Food and Cooking
Time For Tea
by Karen Magnuson Sherwood
Now is the time of year to be looking for plants to use for preparing winter
teas. Remember, in a survival situation teas are going to be of great value to
you in a variety of ways. They will provide vitamins and minerals for your body
as well as warming it with hot liquids.
The plants you select for your teas can be used fresh for maximum nutritional
value, or they can be dried for future use. When collecting plants for drying,
tie the stems together and, later, hang them in a warm, dark place, free from
Attics provide ideal locations for drying herbs.
However, survival situations don't always come equipped with these. In that
case, branches of nearby trees are suitable on warm, dry days as long as plenty
of shade is available. When the weather is less than perfect, the main beam of
your debris hut makes a good place to hang bunches of plants.
After hanging to dry for about a week, test your plants for dryness. Take a
few of the leaves or twigs and crush them between your fingers. If they snap and
crumble readily, then they are ready to store. In case your plants still contain
moisture (if they aren't brittle when handled) allow them to dry for several
more days. Store your teas in air-tight containers away from direct sunlight.
They can be used all winter long until new, fresh growth appears in the spring.
Remember, it takes only about half the amount of plants in the dried state as
it does of fresh plants when preparing your teas. This is due to all the
moisture leaving the herb as it dries, causing it to shrink.
Finally, make certain of your positive identification of plants when
foraging. Misidentification of a plant, particularly in a survival situation,
could mean the difference between life and death. If you are unsure of your
identification of a certain plant, consult your Peterson's Field Guide.
One of my favorite teas to prepare is a combination of mint and spice bush.
It makes a very refreshing tea that will warm you even on the gloomiest of days.
Spice bush can be collected at any time of the year, while mint must be
collected before winter's freezing weather sets in. Here's the recipe:
Combine: 2 tsp. dried mint
1 tsp. spice bush
(use the shavings of bark from the
Pour hot (nor boiling) water over the mixture and let steep five minutes. Honey
can be added to sweeten the taste, although the tea is very sweet in itself.
From The Tracker magazine, Summer 1982,
published by the Tracker School.
For more articles from The Tracker magazine, visit the
Tracker Trail website.