Cleavers Cold Water Infusion

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I enjoyed a first today. In the spirit of foraging, I gathered a wild edible yesterday from my backyard and allowed it to steep overnight in water. This afternoon, for tea time, I sipped on a refreshing cleavers cold water infusion.

I’ve read about the medicinal herb cleavers, that many consider a weed. Oddly enough, I even dreamed once about gathering the plant. It wasn’t until I studied foraging for wild edibles last fall that I realized I pull this “weed” out of my garden every spring, by the handfuls. In fact, I’ve been familiar with cleavers since my childhood. I’ll bet you know it too!

Cleavers Cold Water Infusion

What is Cleavers?

Cleavers originated in Europe, covering much of the extended continent, from England to Siberia. Today it flourishes around the world, including Canada and much of the United States.

And when I say flourish, I mean that it grows everywhere, appearing in early spring. Look for it growing along rivers, sidewalks, fences and tree stumps or in great clumps in meadows and fields. Cleavers thrives especially well in cultivated gardens, I’ve discovered.

While it has a fancy Latin name, Galium aparine, this prolific plant is more commonly known as cleavers. That’s not what I called it though, as a child. I  called this plant “sticktights”. It’s also known by a variety of descriptive names such as grip grass, stickyweed, catchweed, velco plant, everlasting friendship and sticky willies.

The main identifying characteristic of cleavers are the fine sticky hairs that cover the plant. These sticky hairs enable the plant to cling to clothes or fur that it comes in contact with. That’s a pretty cool way to propagate! After the plant flowers it produces tiny sticky seeds as well, that create a nuisance for dogs or cats that brush against them. I used to pick these sticktights out of my pets’ fur after a romp through nearby fields.

Cleavers Cold Water Infusion

Identifying Cleavers

Cleavers is a wild edible that is easy to identify. The bright green plant puts out long straggly stems with spaced out whorls of six to eight leaves. Cleavers does flower, producing tiny white blooms. And the miniscule seeds are covered with itty bitty soft barbs. The best way to test the plant, to make sure it is cleavers, is to pluck a stem with leaves and press it against your shirt. If it sticks, it’s cleavers!

Cleavers Cold Water InfusionCleavers growing around a stump in my backyard.

Health Benefits of Cleavers Cold Water Infusion

Used medicinally for centuries, cleavers offers many health benefits to those wise enough to recognize its gifts. The plant has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and astringent properties.

Cleanses the lymphatic system

Cleavers helps to reduce water weight and edema by cleansing and stimulating the lymphatic system. This reduces swelling in glands, tissues and cysts. Cleavers is naturally diuretic making it an excellent tonic for the kidneys and urinary tract. Its cleansing and flushing effect is good for the whole body as it detoxifies and purifies the blood.

Has cooling properties

This herb reduces fevers and helps to prevent heat strokes during hot summer months. Its cooling properties calm inflammation, within the body and on the skin. Cleavers even takes the sting out of sunburns.

Heals wounds and skin irritations

Fresh cleavers leaves provide relief from cuts, wounds, rashes and bug bites. Lightly crush the leaves and apply to soothe skin redness, swelling and irritation.

Cleavers’ antiseptic properties help to treat the skin conditions eczema, dermatitis and psoriasis. Use tinctures or teas to begin treatment from within the body, while using a cleavers wash to soothe the skin.

Improves liver function

By stimulating the liver, cleavers improves digestion and the elimination of toxins from the body. It is also effective in treating ulcers, bladder inflammation and irritable bowel syndrome.

Cleavers Cold Water Infusion

Cleavers Cold Water Infusion

Creating Cleavers Cold Water Infusion

Fresh cleavers leaves are delicious added to salads or included in a steamed greens meal. The herb is available for purchase as a tincture and a dried tea.

The easiest way to enjoy the health benefits of cleavers is to gather it in your yard or another place free from herbicides and chemicals.

Cleavers tea can be served as a hot drink or as a cold water infusion. My studies suggested that the cleavers cold water infusion provided slightly more benefits that a hot tea. I loved the idea of making a something different from my typical hot herbal tea.

I gathered cleavers from my backyard. Truthfully, I almost waited too long to try this herb. I pulled up cleavers plants in early spring, clearing them from my garden. It was difficult to find the herb when I wanted it. Finally yesterday I located cleavers growing near the wood pile for the fire pit.

To create a cleavers cold water infusion, chop fresh cleavers plants and drop them into a tall mason jar. Cover with filtered water, screw on the lid, and allow water to steep in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, strain and serve.

Cleavers Cold Water InfusionCleavers cold water infusion, chilling in the fridge.

A Different Kind of Afternoon Tea

I sampled my cleavers water this afternoon, in place of hot herbal tea.

How did it taste?

I expected a slight bitterness but there wasn’t any. At least, the water did not taste bitter to me. However, I am very accustomed to herbal teas, without added honey for sweetener. The cleavers cold water infusion had a mild green taste, but not like grass. The water was refreshing and satisfying, more like cucumber infused water or one made with aromatic herbs.

Cleavers infused water gets a thumbs up from me. I have enough water left over to enjoy a cup tomorrow. And a few more plants in the backyard, that escaped my earlier weed pulling frenzies. Next spring, I’ll leave more cleavers to grow in my garden. I recognize and appreciate their incredible value now.

Cleavers Cold Water Infusion

If you are feeling adventurous, try out these other wild edible teas:

 

Order cleavers tincture or cleavers dried tea below:

 

 


 

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Health Benefits of Honeysuckle Tea

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

Ahhh, honeysuckle. That sweet scent transports me back to my childhood and long, hot summer days. The vine didn’t grow in my yard. However, the flowering plants covered the neighbors’ fence, across the street. In fact, honeysuckle covered one corner section of their yard, creating a small “secret garden”.  I’m grateful for the kindness of this dear couple. Looking out their window, they often spied me sitting quietly there in the corner, breathing in that tantalizing scent.

Later my grandfather, an avid gardener, nurtured a honeysuckle plant in his backyard. I brought home a start from that plant, as an adult with a yard of my own. Sadly, that plant did not thrive.

Now I have a honeysuckle vine, gracing a trellis near the front porch. It is a European variety, showing off cream colored blooms tinged with bright pink. Last fall, as I studied foraging for wild edibles, I discovered that fragrant honeysuckle flowers are suitable for tea.

I’ve patiently waited for spring and for my honeysuckle to bloom, so I can sip on my first cup of honeysuckle tea. Days of heavy rain finally gave way this afternoon to sunshine. To my delight, the first honeysuckle flower fully opened to the warmth.

Health Benefits of Honeysuckle Tea

Health Benefits of Honeysuckle Tea

Beyond its amazing scent, which has benefits as well, honeysuckle is a medicinal plant, used for thousands of years to boost health in a variety of ways. The flower has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Traditionally used in tea form, honeysuckle is available also as an essential oil.

Honeysuckle offers these impressive health benefits:

Powerful Detoxifier

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, honeysuckle tea is known as a natural way to remove heat and toxins from the body, making it an excellent tonic for the liver.

Heals Upper Respiratory Tract Infections

Honeysuckle is an potent remedy for colds, flu symptoms, bronchitis, COPD, asthma, fever and pneumonia. The plant acts as an expectorant, helping to relieve congested air passages.

Relieves Digestive Disorders

This flowering plant is helpful in treating digestive disorders such as ulcers, diarrhea, nausea, bloating, Crohn’s disease, urinary tract disorders and pain and inflammation in the small intestine.

Improves Oral Health

Honeysuckle’s antibacterial and astringent properties improve gum health. Create a natural mouthwash by combining two cups of boiling water with half a cup of honeysuckle flowers and leaves. Let steep for at least five minutes. Remove flowers and leaves and allow mouthwash to cool completely before using. Gargle and swish in mouth daily.

Health Benefits of Honeysuckle Tea

Helps with Type 2 Diabetes

Studies show that honeysuckle decreases high blood sugar levels and reduces insulin resistance when used over a period of time.

Eases Arthritis and Auto-Immune Disorders

Honeysuckle’s powerful anti-inflammatory abilities bring relief to those suffering from arthritis symptoms. The plant shows promise in helping those with auto-immune disorders also, such as rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, lupus, bursitis and chronic fatigue syndrome.

Heals Skin Infections

Native Americans boiled fresh honeysuckle leaves and bathed skin wounds with the tea to prevent infection and speed healing. Today, honeysuckle oil is added to skin creams and ointments to help heal skin rashes, eczema, psoriasis and rosacea. Honeysuckle slows the aging process as well, fighting free radicals that damage the skin and cause wrinkles.

Aromatherapy

I’ve recently learned about the benefits of aromatherapy. Inhaling the sweet scent of the honeysuckle flower relaxes and calms the body. Further, the scent stabilizes mood, relieves stress and helps to prevent depression.

Health Benefits of Honeysuckle Tea

Possible Side Effects of Honeysuckle Tea

There are a few possible side effects with honeysuckle. It is not recommended for pregnant women or for young children. Because it regulates blood sugar levels, do not use honeysuckle tea if you are already taking medication for this condition. And there are a few people who are allergic to this plant and may experience mild skin irritation. Talk to your doctor before drinking honeysuckle tea, if you have concerns.

Preparing Honeysuckle Tea

Preparing the tea is simple:

If using fresh flowers, add two or three large blooms to a mug. Pour boiling water over the flowers, cover and allow to steep for 15 minutes. Strain and sweeten with honey, if desired.

When fresh flowers aren’t available, add 1 – 2 teaspoons dried honeysuckle to a cup of boiling water. Cover and steep for 15 minutes. Strain and sweeten with honey, if desired.

I plucked that first honeysuckle bloom this afternoon, and added another that appeared close to blooming. After steeping in hot water for 15 minutes, I tried my first sip.

The freshly brewed tea was light green in color, with a delicate slightly sweet aroma. And the taste? Honeysuckle tea is similar to green tea, with a mild, earthy flavor. Although it doesn’t taste like honeysuckle smells, there is a distinct honeysuckle quality to it, a hint of flavor from that sweet nectar within the flower.

I enjoyed it very much!

Health Benefits of Honeysuckle Tea

Tastes Like Summer

For me, honeysuckle tea tastes like summer. Inhaling the scent as I made tea, sipping on the hot liquid, had the same effect as sitting in the secret garden created by those fragrant vines. I felt peaceful and full of joy, centered and whole.

I could easily see back through the passage of time, to my younger self, sitting happily in that corner garden, thinking big thoughts and watching the bees dance among the honeysuckle flowers. In my imagination, she turned to look at me. I raised my cup of honeysuckle tea in acknowledgement and appreciation.

She smiled.

Health Benefits of Honeysuckle Tea

Want to experience another wild edible tea? Try Sweet Violet Tea.

Check out Lowe’s Garden Center, for a variety of honeysuckle plants.

And you can order dried honeysuckle by clicking on photo below:


 

Journey With Healthy Me is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program is designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.