A Bruny Brew: Stinging Nettle Tea.
Brunyfire is not blessed with green fingers.
Trying to grow anything seems to be a losing battle at our block on Bruny Island as not only do the plants suffer from my incompetent gardening skills, but the persistence of the resident wildlife win over everytime. Despite caging my fruit trees – small paws still manage to steal their way through the mesh far enough to grab leaves and pluck flower buds. The final indignity came the other day when Brunyfire discovered that even the lid of the cage guarding my struggling lemon tree had been knocked off and the leaves completely stripped – if that act of vandalism wasn’t bad enough, the deposit of poop left inside the cage as a final calling card was the last straw.
However, the one thing that does do well, despite all the neglect, is stinging nettles……….………….they’re thriving despite the really bitter winter conditions we’ve been having lately. Cold winds, constant rain and today – hailstones the size of moth balls – at least that was what they felt like as we struggled to get tools and ourselves under cover.But this stuff grows like topsy, so what better way to get rid of it than to consume it!
Given the weather at the moment, outdoor fire stories are a bit hard to achieve, but with the Boathouse almost finished, we are able to utilise the indoor stove, which packs a real punch for its size.
Decided to pluck some fresh nettles and have a go and making some nettle tea. As everyone knows, stinging nettles live up to their name, and so harvesting them needs to be done with a great deal of respect. Once dried, or cooked, the nettle loses its sting and in fact, is a valuable source of vitamins and minerals.
In this instance, I decided to boil up the water in a Japanese tetsubin cast iron kettle. When I purchased this kettle several years ago, I was told that it was pre-WW11 vintage. If this is correct, then this kettle is a bit of a rarity, as the Japanese tetsubin makers were required to donate their pots to the war effort, were they were melted down to make ammunition. Those that did survive, were often hidden in the gardens of their owners to be resurrected in safer times – if the stories are to be believed.
Water boiled in the tetsubin is infused with iron, which was said to help counteract widespread anemia in Japan – it is also said to taste sweeter by eliminating the flavour of chlorine. In the end, I used dried nettle leaves purchased from Jefferson’s Tea emporium in Liverpool Street, Hobart – a magical place dedicated to different teas and tea making and drinking equipment. The idea was to use them in the porcelain cups I’d made some time ago – these sit on a ‘saucer’ of wood and rubber. That is, a stained wooden curtain ring with a rubber gasket from a plumbing store set firmly in place.
But then when we’re talking tea, what better place to get it than at its source? Before this brew had time to cool, Brunyfire and co had booked an impromptu trip to Sri Lanka – or Ceylon as it was once known – what better place for a cuppa………………