Sipping Delight: Discovering the Wonders of Milkweed Tea

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Common milkweed tracy

Tea lovers are constantly trying new blends and flavors, on a quest for perfect harmony in their daily cup. As the market expands, we look for unique and beneficial options to add to our rotation. Milkweed tea is a lesser-known tea, but it has gained popularity in recent years because of its health benefits, distinct taste, and fascinating origin. Here is a closer look at milkweed tea - what it is, how it is made, where to buy it, and how it can enhance your overall health.

What is Milkweed Tea?

Milkweed tea is derived from the milkweed plant, commonly found in North America and parts of Europe. The leaves of the milkweed plant are harvested, dried, and boiled to create the tea. This tea has an earthy, slightly bitter taste that can be enjoyed plain or with honey or lemon juice. But besides its flavor, there are several health benefits of milkweed tea that are worth exploring.

Milkweed tea has proven to be an excellent diuretic, promoting urine production while flushing out excess fluids and toxins. It also stimulates digestion, reduces inflammation, and lowers blood pressure. Milkweed is a fantastic source of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a type of fatty acid with anti-cancer properties and a metabolism booster. Additionally, milkweed tea is full of powerful antioxidants that help to protect the body from harmful free radicals, preventing cell damage, and inflammation.

However, it's important to note that not all milkweed plants are safe for consumption. Monarch milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) is a popular and safe choice for milkweed tea, though other cultivars may not have the same desirable properties.

How is Milkweed Tea Made?

Making milkweed tea can be done through a traditional or modern method. The traditional method involves harvesting the fresh leaves from the milkweed plant and allowing them to dry naturally. Once dried, the leaves are boiled in a pot of water for up to eight minutes, depending on the desired strength. The modern way is to order from reputable milkweed tea suppliers, like the ones mentioned below, who sell dried leaves, often ready to use immediately.

To prepare milkweed tea, take about a teaspoon of dried milkweed leaves and place them in a teapot or mug. Then, pour boiling water over the leaves and let the mixture steep for about 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. You can add honey or lemon to complement the taste. Since the strength of milkweed tea can vary, be mindful of how much milkweed leaves you use to avoid making it too bitter or strong. 

Where Can You Buy Milkweed Tea?

Many online stores, such as Foraged, sell milkweed tea, while some health food stores and botanic gardens may stock it on their shelves. It's always important to do your research and ensure that you are buying milkweed tea from a reputable seller. If you have local farmers markets or co-ops, you may be able to find milkweed tea there as well. Prices may vary depending on the source, but a 2oz package that yields around 20 cups typically goes for around $10-15, or about $1 per cup.

Milkweed Tea During Different Seasons

The taste and brewing of milkweed tea will vary depending on the season. The ideal time to harvest the leaves is in the spring before the plant flowers when the leaves are tender and fresh. Summer is another good time for harvesting leaves, while the fall is not recommended because the leaves become tougher and may not make for a good brew. During the winter, milkweed tea can be made using dried leaves, which may not have the same freshness and potency, but still offer a lovely taste and aroma.

Risks and Cautions When Drinking Milkweed Tea

Milkweed is a unique plant and can pose risks if not consumed properly. If you are allergic to plants in the Apocynaceae family, including milkweed and its types, you should avoid milkweed tea altogether. Drinking large amounts of this tea can lead to mild symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and stomach pains, which are temporary and not life-threatening. However, excessive intake may lead to a potential toxin, called cardiac glycosides, that can cause heart palpitations, kidney failure, or even respiratory distress. Consuming milkweed tea should be done in moderation, and those with heart or kidney issues should not drink it without consulting their physician.

Additional Uses of Milkweed Plant Parts

The milkweed plant has many exceptional uses beyond making tea. For example, the fluff inside the milkweed pods can be used for insulation, pillow stuffing, and raw material for needle felting. The plant fibers can be used for rope, twine, and string. The flowers are an essential source of food for pollinators like bees and butterflies, making it an ideal addition to a garden or backyard space.

Milkweed has proven to be a versatile plant that offers incredible health benefits and unique uses to explore. While drinking milkweed tea has grown in popularity, it's essential to ensure that you're using the correct types and consuming it in moderation. With its earthy, slightly bitter taste, it's worth trying alongside your other teas to see if it becomes a new favorite. Whether you harvest your own milkweed or purchase it from a trusted supplier, making milkweed tea is a fun and simple process that has the potential to improve the health of your body and environment!

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