When people first come into the Simples shop, especially those who just happen in, they often look around with wonder and confusion, “What is this place?”, “Are these juices? Teas?”, “Do you drink them as a shot?” The beauty of having a brick and mortar shop, staffed with herbalists, is that we have the amazing opportunity to share about herbal medicine and educate people about a topic that is our passion. We lean in and explain. “Herbal infusions or tonics are water extractions of nourishing plants. They are like teas in the sense that water is the solvent used to free up all of the vitamins, minerals and plant constituents, but they are far more potent and concentrated. We use a lot more plant material and brew them for a period of hours depending on the plant. And the plants we work with offer an abundance of vitamins but even more importantly hard to get minerals, all in a water-based, easy to assimilate form. So like a tea, but a medicinal dose of the plant, maximizing the extraction, maximizing the benefits.”
At this point people nod, they get it, go on. “Not a juice, not a tea, not a kombucha - an infusion.” So then, as they peruse the menu, another look of confusion can be seen. “Stinging Nettle, like the kind I avoided as a kid?”
Yup, they are right, the plants we use are mostly wild plants or often weeds. Plants that were once a staple of our diet are now relegated to the weed pile or killed off with the toxic pesticides. Very sad, because, as I tell them, these plants are a goldmine of nourishment and bring much needed and often missing elements into our diet, an overlooked “superfood” literally in our backyards.
“Do you want to taste Nettle?” They look into the case, Nettle, so green it looks black, smiling back from its regal bottle, (Finally a place of reverence for such a majestic plant). It looks a little scary to those who are afraid of green, they pucker ready for a taste, we smile, knowing full well there will be relief, even pleasure as they realize that the taste is light and refreshing and one that they will begin to crave. “Oh, that’s actually delicious.” Yes, yes it is we nod in agreement. “Did you taste the saltiness?” I ask. “That’s the mineral content.” “Cool,” they nod, feeling the magic. Now we know we have them.
“Let’s try Oatstraw, super high in magnesium, a great nervine, meaning it has an action on the nervous system, great for anxiety, stress, muscle tension.”
They like that one too. And so we go down the list for as many as they want to try.
And nine times out of ten, if they are local, and leave with a bottle, they’ll be back for more.
That’s how it goes at Simples. This is why I opened the shop. I have been brewing and drinking herbal infusions for what is now the better part of my life and I love them, I crave them and I am living my dream to share them. I tell you all this, my beloved subscribers because if you haven’t been into the shop, I hope you will come, and if you haven’t yet explored herbal infusions, I hope you will!
Because we brew in large quantities and need a very consistent product, everything is done by strict recipe, water temperature and brew time, but at home it’s really easy to make your own herbal infusion and you don’t need to be concerned about perfect measurements. Play until you find the proportions that work for you.
So here are instructions for making a Nettle infusion at home:
Take a handful of dried organic Nettle leaf and place it in a quart size mason jar, fill to the brim with hot water, I like just shy of the boil, seal the jar and let it steep for 4 hours or overnight.
Then strain and enjoy. Keep the unused portion refrigerated and it will last about 3 days, but you’ll drink it way before then!
So where do you get dried Nettle? Most co-ops or independent health food store have bulk herbs, and you will find it there, or you can mail order. Mountain Rose Herbs is a great, reliable source. Or better yet, if you have some growing in your backyard this spring, harvest it! Cook it up, or dry it for your infusions.
Thank you for your interest and for supporting our mission to bring these plants back into as many lives as possible!