Use raspberry leaves to make your own herbal tea

I drink a lot of herbal tea, but until recently I hadn't considered making my own.

When we moved into our house, one of the first things we did was prepare an area in the yard for cane berry crops. We planted blackberries, marionberries, and raspberries. Now, four years later, the canes have grown humongous in Oregon's favorable climate. They're so long that we've criss-crossed them on their supporting wires, interlacing the thorny vines and creating a delicious green fence.

Most vigorous of the bunch are the raspberry canes. As much as we love the twice-yearly crop of delicately-flavored berries, it's a continual battle — good-naturedly waged — to keep “volunteers” from sprouting among the grapes, the potato patch, the blueberries, and the lawn itself. They spread by determined underground runners that are fragile enough to break off at surface level with a firm tug, so you never get the actual root.

If You Can't Beat 'em, Eat 'em!

Imagine my delight when I discovered raspberry leaves can be dried and made into an herbal tea! I've experimented with drying other herbs for tea mixtures, and made tisanes with fresh leaves, but the sheer number of raspberry leaves at my disposal makes me giddy! The tea tastes similar to black tea, but without the caffeine, and maybe with just a suggestion of the fragrance of fresh grass. It does not taste like raspberries!

I simply tug up the young raspberry sprouts (under one foot tall) and let them dry between two window screens, laying flat on the sidewalk for a few days in the sun. (I bought my screens at garage sales.)

After the leaves have dried, steep about half an ounce in water and sweeten with a bit of honey or sugar if you like, or add a splash of lemon juice. I usually use boiling water and steep for 5-10 minutes, but there are proponents for steeping in cold water for several hours and then heating the tea if you want to drink it hot. Supposedly this reduces the tannins extracted from the leaf material. Tannins can make tea taste bitter, but I've never noticed bitterness with my homemade raspberry leaf tea.

These leaves, once thoroughly dried, keep well, and should see you through the winter until your next “crop” is available. You can also mix raspberry leaves with other dried herbs. The raspberry leaf tea serves as a great base, and blends well with citrusy herbs such as lemon balm (which also grows like a weed around here) or lemon verbena, or mint-family herbs. Just make sure everything is very dry so it won't mold in storage.

Moderation in All Things

As with any herbal tea, care should be taken not to overdo it. There's always conflicting advice on the internet, but the general consensus seems to be that this tea should not be drunk during early pregnancy due to its relaxing effect on the uterus.

For the same reason, it is also sometimes recommended to relieve menstrual cramps and labor pains, and herbalists say it alleviates other ailments as well. I can't vouch for any curative properties: I drink it because it tastes nice, is absolutely free to me, and is my SWEET REVENGE on those persistent prickly raspberry canes.

Edible Weeds

We also have chickweed and lamb's quarters in a few neglected corners of the yard — maybe a salad is in order!

This is another great reason for us to avoid using poisons in your yard and garden. J.D. and I know that even our weeds are organic, should we choose to eat them, and many weeds are edible. Don't have raspberries in your yard? There are dozens of delicious wild plants that can be harvested and enjoyed, and not just for tea. Surely some grow in your area.

What do you harvest from the wild? Do you make your own teas? Your own salads? What precautions do you take about identification and collection sites? Who did your learn from?

Not sure where to start? Here are a few links to help you get the idea.

More about...Frugality, Food

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Amberlynn
Amberlynn
12 years ago

My midwives have suggested that I drink plenty of raspberry leaf tea to help calm my contractions (I’m due in June, and it’s still too early for me to “get going”). Unfortunately, I’ll have to wait until next year to harvest the abundantly wild leaves. (I too live in the PDX area.) This year, we’ve taken many of our neighbors volunteer starts to begin our own berry patch.

LoveandSalt
LoveandSalt
12 years ago

I just blanched and froze a bushel of dandelion leaves today–they are sweet and tender now–the ones that haven’t blossomed. Later I will dig up big dandelions and roast the roots for teas and “dandelion coffee.” I had a delicious dandelion salad with bacon and hard boiled eggs. I also made dandelion vinegar (which won’t be ready for two months. It’s unbelievable what you can do with this plant, and it’s incredibly good for you too. Next week–dandelion wine! Last summer I learned to cook milkweed (buds, then pods–delicious!) and nettles. I am going crazy searching for chickweed. Going crazy… Read more »

hak
hak
12 years ago

One of the plants I just introduced to “Hak Gardens” is the prickly pear cactus. Living in the arid southwest, we have the pleasure of two growing seasons with the first one coming to an end in the next six weeks or so. July and August is rough on everything when the temps are above 110. These particular cacti came from Mexico via my local cooperative extension. I planted three separate pads a month ago and have already harvested one nopale (new paddle) and will use that in a salad with some other lettuces, spinach and arugula from our raised… Read more »

Funny about Money
Funny about Money
12 years ago

What an interesting idea! I’d never heard of this one before. Around the Southwest, a strange-looking plant called Mormon tea grows…looks like something from dinosaur days. Supposedly Mormon pioneers used to brew a tea from it–I’ve never tried it. Here’s a picture: http://www.desertusa.com/april97/du_mormontea.html A variety of purslane is called Mexican spinach in these parts. They say you can cook it much as you would cook spinach, and it’s supposed to be good to eat. Not the most appetizing-looking plant though: it appears to be a succulent. You can eat jellies from the fruit of prickly pear, and prickly pear pads… Read more »

Pete
Pete
12 years ago
Saro
Saro
12 years ago

What a good idea, thanks for sharing. I will look into making herbal tea once I start up my garden (probably next year).

LAmom
LAmom
12 years ago

I love wild salads, and I’ve got a few blogposts about them:
L. A. power breakfast
More garden herbs
The farm is with me

Serendipity
Serendipity
12 years ago

You’ve combined two of my great loves: tea and sweet revenge. Okay, not so much the revenge, but your humorous approach is appreciated.

kesflower
kesflower
12 years ago

My husband, a former forester, loves to pick redbud flowers in the spring for salads, they taste just like lettuce. Lemon grass (they look like shamrocks, but have little yellow flowers) is a weed that loves to grow under my daylilies, and tastes just like lemons, it makes a lovely lemon tea. Sourwood leaves really are sour. And when spring onions make my yard look like it needs to be mown 2 days after the last one, I go out with scissors and we have scallions for dinner!

Colin
Colin
12 years ago

My wife swears by raspberry tea during…well… “lady time.” I know this sounds crazy; but it also seems to smooth-out mood swings as well.

Here is her take on it:
http://mrslaurenchristine.blogspot.com/2008/04/amazing.html

erin
erin
12 years ago

We had chickweed at our old house that we would add to salads but haven’t found it growing in the new house. We add borage and natsturtium flowers to salads. I didn’t plant the borage – it just appeared but I did plant the nasturtiums so perhaps they don’t count. 😉 I use mint in mojitos. Our raspberry canes are still small so I won’t harvest any leaves yet but I drank raspberry tea through 2 pregnancies and loved the soothing taste. I have used lemon balm in cookies. That’s all I can think of for now but your article… Read more »

Shannon
Shannon
12 years ago

I love raspberry tea. I never considered making my own. Thanks for this post! I enjoy your blog!

Cheap Like Me
Cheap Like Me
12 years ago

Purslane! It grows abundantly around our yard. It is a good source of many minerals and vitamins A and C. (http://www.nutritiondata.com/facts-C00001-01c20g0.html) It can be cooked, or just throw it into a salad with other greens.

Oscar
Oscar
12 years ago

So I fail to see the relevance to the main purpose of this blog. I hope it doesn’t become a reguler item.

krista
krista
2 months ago
Reply to  Oscar

You must not be interested in turning your leaves into teas then cuz it interested me greatly 🙂

Tim
Tim
12 years ago

perhaps an advisory note about if you aren’t positive about what you are doing, don’t be eating anything from the wild or from your neighborhood. second, ensure that the stuff you use and eat isn’t commingling with poisonous or inedible items–i.e. if there is poison ivy mixed in your rasberry vines, you might look for the rasberry vines that aren’t near the poison ivy, etc.

partgypsy
partgypsy
12 years ago

kesflower, what you call lemon grass we call sour grass, my daughter loves to pick and eat it, along with picking honeysuckles blossoms to get the nectar out by pulling out the stamen. We have bee balm and their leaves kind of taste like mint, along with our various herbs mostly basil and parsleys. We are also big lovers of dandelion greens. My greek grandmother annually in spring picked various greens especially dandelion greens, and boil and dress with oil and lemon juice. Our backyard is all organic so anything goes there, but we don’t pick or eat anything where… Read more »

Eric F.
Eric F.
12 years ago

Might sound weird but Dandelions are also edible. Timing is crucial to really enjoy them. Once the flower buds are visible, the taste becomes acid and quite unpleasant.

As soon as you see them, you can collect them by cutting the plant right above ground. They are filled with vitamin C, help to protect your kidney and are great in a salad (A+ when mixed with boiled eggs and sardines).

So, if you hate the yellow flower beds, you can eat them 😉

Gemma
Gemma
6 years ago

Do you have to dry the leaves if making tea straight away?
How do I know which leaves are good to pick?

krista
krista
2 months ago

So what are the times we can gather our leaves? Mine are just about done producing fruit at this point. Is there a specific time for gathering?

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