Echinacea tea helps you warm up and may help boost your immune health.
This purple cornflower tea is great to have on hand when the cold and flu season hits as it helps to speed up recovery time so you are back on your feet.
Echinacea is a well known perennial herb with many medicinal benefits of which the most known is immunity support and protection against colds and other minor infections.
This herbal soothing beverage has been used by indigenous people for thousands of years as a natural remedy for its healing properties. Known also as coneflower or purple coneflower, there are three common types of Echinacea that can be used medicinally - Echinacea Angustifolia, Pallida and Purpurea..
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How to grow Echinacea plant
Since Echinacea is an endangered plant, I decided to grow my own rather than harvest it from the wild
If you decide on doing the same, here are some tips to share. I just bought seeds in our garden center, but you can also purchase plants or take cuttings from your neighbor or friend.
I live 600m above sea level so the climate is rather cold, including cold winters. This is essential if you want to grow Echinacea in your garden or terrace.
Chose a place with enough sun, preferably south orientated
I planted the seeds in early spring, however, you can also plant them in the late fall.
The first year I only got leaves, however the second year the plant started to bloom and grew much larger around three feet tall, quickly becoming the most beautiful decoration of our terrasse. (Since I only grow herbs they are rarely blooming).
Echinacea is an easy herb to take care of, it tolerates droughts well. I didn't use any fertilizer and it took two years for the flowers to bloom. The plant self-seeded and spread on its own.
The good news is that all parts of Echinacea are medicinal so you can use leaves, flowers or roots in remedies such as tea, Echinacea tincture or syrup. The bad news is that it might take a couple of years for Echinacea to bloom, aka be ready for harvesting. Be patient, it is absolutely worth it. Once your flowers are blooming they are ready for harvesting
Harvesting just flowers so you cut it right below the set of top leaves. This method is great if you want to collect one or two stems to make your tea. This way you can repeat several times during the blooming season before the leaves start to fade. However, the best time to harvest the flowers is when the buds just begin to open.
Harvest the whole plant (leaves and flowers) and cut it with a pair of scissors just above the first set of leaves at the bottom. The plant will grow back again next year. That way you will get all plant material that you can dry or use for other projects.
Harvesting echinacea root
If you want to take the full medicinal benefits of Echinacea you will want to dig into its roots. The best time however is the third year or later when the plant is mature with strong roots. Echinacea roots are great for making tinctures or teas but harvesting them means digging out the entire plant. The roots are best to dig in the late fall when the plant has finished flowering. I used a garden spade to dig up echinacea roots. Just simply insert a garden spade into the ground and use your foot to press it down. LIft the plant out by the roots. With your fingers pull apart the clumps of roots into individual crowns (the areas just above the root). Remove the older roots and replant the young clumps that will continue to grow and you will be able to harvest them again in 2-3 years time. Don’t forget to water them deeply after replanting.
Drying Echinacea for tea You can either dry the whole plant by hanging it upside down or remove petals and leaves from the stem and lay them flat to dry on parchment paper or a screen that you have taken off the window, and place them outside to dry on a warm, sunny day.
You will need just a few days to dry them completely depending on the weather. then just gently crush them between your fingers into minced size pieces and store them in an airtight container, out of direct sunlight. Shake the majority of dirt off the roots outside, before bringing them in. Then use lukewarm water to clean the root from dirt indoors. Finally, clean the root completely with a sharp knife, cut it into small pieces and set it out to dry.
How to make homemade Echinacea tea
Whether you are using dried or fresh Echinacea herb the Echinacea tea will boost your immune system and help your body to fight off viral infections or colds. The amount of herbal material will however differ. For fresh echinacea tea, you will need twice as much for a tea of the same strength. So for 1 cup of potent echinacea tea, you will need either ¼ cup of dried echinacea leaf or ½ cup of fresh echinacea leaf or flowers. Let the mixture steep for 20 minutes and strain the herbal material afterward.
Echinacea root tea
To extract medicinal properties from the Echinacea root, simply steeping the root would not make a potent Echinacea root tea, we need to make a decoction. Instead of infusing the echinacea root in hot water we will simmer the root in water for 15-20 minutes. We used the same when making elderberry tea. To make 1 mug of echinacea root tea, use 1 tablespoon of dried echinacea root. Place it into a small saucepan, add 1 cup of water and slowly heat the mixture to simmer. No need to boil the mixture to keep the maximum of medicinal properties. Strain it into a mug and enjoy the strong and potent echinacea root tea.
It is important to add that while echinacea tea is helpful when one feels sick, its taste is not very flavorful. I like to mix it with other herbs to mask its taste such as lemongrass, peppermint or ginger. Alternatively, use lemon or honey to adjust its taste.
Benefits of echinacea tea
A hot cup of echinacea tea a few times a week can help prevent winter colds and flu. If taken at the first sign of sickness, many people believe that echinacea helps them get better faster or prevents the illness from developing altogether.
Echinacea does more than just stimulate the immune system. According to WebMd, echinacea activates chemicals in the body that decrease inflammation. The fact that it works as a natural anti-inflammatory may be another reason why it helps people feel better while they’re sick.
Echinacea also contains compounds that have been shown to attack yeast and fungi directly, which means echinacea tea may also boost healing from yeast infections.
Positive effects on the immune System
Known for its beneficial effects on the immune system Echinacea tea helps to recover faster from illnesses. 10. It is important to know that one needs to take the tea at the first sign of sickness, such as a runny nose or fatigue. You can use elderberry and elderflower tea for similar benefits.
Echinacea tea decreases inflammation
Moreover there are studies that have shown that echinacea can help reduce excess inflammation.20
Fight against yeast infection
Echinacea tea also contains compounds that help to fight yeast and fungi directly thus boosting healing from yeast infection.
Sure, you can use the echinacea powder inside the capsules into echinacea tea for a soothing cold remedy.
Echinacea is most effective at the beginning of infection when the first symptoms appear. People drink up to 4-6 cups a day for the first few days of infection. This number of cups per day is reduced to 2-3 for a further 7 days.
When you are free of infections, drinking echinacea tea stimulates the immune system and uses its capabilities when not needed. which in the long term suppresses your immune system in the time when one needs it. Thus it is recommended not to take echinacea for longer than eight weeks.
Echinacea tea has a strong floral flavor that is a combination of pine needles and the soft flavor of meadowsweet. Add some sweeteners such as honey or raw sugar to add some sweetness or combine it with other herbs such as garlic, mint or lemongrass to improve its taste. Some people like to add a bit of milk to add taste aswell.