You might remember the torment Alice endured in Wonderland when viciously accused by the Iris: "Just as I suspected! She's nothing but a common mobile vulgaris! To be blunt--a weed." We're so quick to regard these ubiquitous plants as invasive, but many of us are completely unaware of their beneficial properties. The common weeds found right here in New York City parks serve a variety of nutritious (and delicious) purposes, especially when brewed into homemade herbal teas. Read on to find out which ones make the most soothing brews.
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Found in many of NYC’s parks, red clovers make a tasty brew with a soothing, sweet punch. According to the foragers at Nona Brooklyn, the red clover is medicinally known to cure respiratory ailments and skin conditions, including eczema. Infuse both the flowers and leaves (either fresh or dry) in boiling water for 30 minutes. The iced version pairs especially well with raspberry leaf or mint.
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Dandelion greens are nutritious all on their own, but the roots are best for a naturally detoxifying tea. Mind Body Green explains that dandelion root purifies the liver and contains potassium, making this elixir the perfect hangover cure. You won’t need the leaves for this brew – just clean the roots and place them in boiling water. Add herbs or a stick of cinnamon for additional flavor.
Image via Håkan Dahlström
Elderflower has been called the champagne of weeds because its blossoms are bubbly in nature, but also because it does in fact make a lovely DIY champagne. Once dried for tea, the flowers are a soothing tincture for colds and fevers.
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Though spiny in nature, wild nettles are worth the pain for their delicious and nutritious qualities. The stinging nettle is highly regarded as one of the best medicines for overall health and immune support, and it also has a surprisingly good taste. Just be sure to arm yourself in heavy gloves before you snip. Once harvested and dried, the leaves ease up on the sting and can be steeped and strained to release the goods. The dried tea leaves are tasty all on their own, but the experts at Wolf College say it also pairs well with any member of the pine family.
Image via Nayu Kim
Rose hips, otherwise known as adorable baby roses, are famous for their vitamin C. However, generic dried rose hips teas often do not contain their natural level of the vitamins, and so making your own fresh rose hip tea is the best way to really boost your immune system. Choose only the freshest leaves (without any brown spots) and add a bit of raw honey to balance out tannins.
Lead image via Calsidyrose