Healing and harmonizing yarrow tea brewed from yarrow (Achillea Millefolium) has been used for centuries in folk medicine. Learn its benefits, ways to harvest and identify yarrow so you can enjoy its health benefits all year long.
Yarrow also called nosebleed, warrior plant or knight’s milfoil is a medicinal plant with a colorful history of uses. It has been used for thousands of years to heal wounds and stop bleeding. That is where the names military herb or warrior plant come from. However, its benefits don’t stop there.
According to Maria Treben, its first place is as a medicinal herb for women. The famous herbalist, Father Abbe Kneipp, said: “There would be fewer widowers and fewer orphans if women just took yarrow from time to time!”
In fact, herbalist Devon Young in her book Backyard herbal Apothecary said that Yarrow won the prize for “the most useful herb”. Another herbalist Rosalee de la Foret would take yarrow with her if she was stranded on a deserted island.
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This perennial herb, yarrow, likes light and well drained soils and sunny fields. It grows all over the globe and reaches heights of one to three feet.
Yarrow got its Latin name Achillea millefolium from the Greek hero Achilles. When he was born his mom wanted to protect him so gave him a yarrow tea bath while holding him by the heel. The heel was the only part of his body that wasn’t protected by yarrow and therefore he died from a wound on the ankle. Before that Achilles used to treat soldier’s wounds in the Troy battle with yarrow. The millefolium stands for “thousand leaves”.
Achillea millefolium has typical finely divided feathery leaves that emerge from the ground as well as grow along the flower stem.
Belonging to the Asteraceae family, yarrow small flowers form clusters are mostly white however can have a pinkish or yellowish hue. They have a strong, sweet scent described as chrysanthemums that can also help with their identification.
While most herbalists recommend using flowers or leaves of yarrow, some recommend its roots.
Leaves are the most potent in spring and early summer before the flowers start to bloom. However, it can be harvested any time of the year. Leaves contain tannins that have anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antibacterial properties however can also speed up the healing of cuts and wounds.
When you collect the flowers, wait till they are fully opened but not yet turning brown. The best time to forage the flowers is between April and October. They are high in aromatic oils so also suitable for infusing in oils.
The yarrow root is the best harvest in the fall and is used for toothache and other pain-related issues.
It is important you to become familiar with the herb to avoid any misidentification. Common Look a like herbs are Queen Anne’s lace (Daucus carota) that smells like carrot and poison hemlock (Conium maculatum) which is extremely toxic!
how to dry yarrow for tea
I usually harvest both leaves and flowers in the morning just after the dew has dried on a sunny day. I search for flowers that are in a full bloom that haven’t turned brown yet.
You can make tea from fresh flowers and leaves or you can dry them.
Use scissors to cut the flower heads off the stems. Then I hold the stem in one hand and with the second hand running down the stem I remove the leaves. Or you can also use scissors to remove the leaves. Don’t wash them, they have a pollen that is a carrier of scent and flavor that you want to have in your tea. Just mechanically remove any bugs and insects and spread them on parchment paper or sieve to air dry. Or you can use a dehydrator on a low heat setting or dry them in the oven too. But air drying works really well, it took me 4 days to have them completely dry.
How to make yarrow tea
Place one tablespoon of fresh yarrow blossom and leaves into a pot and pour over one cup of boiling water.
Let it steep for 15 minutes or longer to extract all medicinal properties of yarrow into this cup of tea.
When you use fresh blossoms and leaves you will get a tea that is lighter in flavor and color than the one made of dried.
Strain the blossoms and drink pure warm tea slowly, enjoying every sip.
Other herbal teas recipes
Benefits of yarrow tea
Tea for healing wounds
As I already mentioned above yarrow has been used to heal wounds and stop bleeding in the battlefields that is where its name warrior herb comes from. Yarrow tea offers a complete action for healing injuries. When used topically in a form of tea bath it encourages the blood cells to coagulate. When this action is combined with it’s anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial action of yarrow it makes a perfect herb for first aid kit.
While there are supporting studies for use of yarrow extract for wound healing, more studies are needed to support the same action on yarrow tea
Harmonizing the blood
Achillea millefolium tea improves circulation and blood flow when used internally in the form of tea. It helps to move stagnant blood such as varicose veins, blood blisters or fibroids.
Yarrow tea for cold and flu
Yarrow stimulates sweating, lowers fever, and helps to fight infection. This floral tea can be used as a gargle for sore throat. as a warm drink, yarrow tea promotes circulation and helps clean and detoxing the body.
Yarrow tea is bitter and stimulates healthy digestion. It increases digestive secretions and improves poor appetite. This study on guinea- pig confirmed yarrow tea contain flavonoid antioxidant that may fight inflammation and digestive spasms.
For women health
Drinking achillea millefolium tea eases the hard menstrual cycle
Helps during menopause with restlessness from hormone shifts
Yarrow tea for oral health
In the book Medicinal Plants of the MOuntain West, Michael Moore used tea from yarrow root for toothache. Its astringent and antimicrobial properties helped to solve the issue.
For Urinary system - for urinary tract infections. yarrow tea acts as diuretic, force you to pee more and clean the body from infections with its antibacterial action.
Achillea millefolium tea For hair
Regular use of a strong yarrow tea will lighten the hair.
Yarrow tea uses
1) As a warm drink
- Fight cold and flu. combine with elderflowers and peppermint to boost this action
- To improve digestion - for better result combine it with ginger
- Improve blood circulation
- For urinary tract infections - combine with uva ursi or marshmallow root (Althea officinalis)
- yarrow tea for menstruation
- Yarrow root tea - for toothache
- Use it as hair rinse to lighten your hair
2)a gargle - for sore throat
3) yarrow tea bath to heal wounds
combine it with St. John’s wort to boost the healing action. Apply this healing yarrow salve afterward for a perfect result.
4) Facial steam to improve complexion.
Leave the yarrow tea covered to infuse for about 10 minutes, while preparing a blanket and a wooden spoon. Once you have uncovered the lid, mix it with a wooden spoon for more active substances to evaporate. Immediately cover with a blanket so that steam does not escape. Hold for as long as possible, at least 15-20 minutes. Inhale with frequent mixing. Excellent for relieving a stuffy nose and sinuses, as well as for the skin.
Most of the people don’t drink yarrow tea for its taste but benefits. It has bitter taste with a slightly earthy undertone and almost no natural sweetness that I could detect. I would drink it as a medicinal tea with a bit of honey and lemon to add some taste.
You can make it ahead of time, keep the yarrow tea in the fridge for another week. There are no preservatives added to this infusion so I don’t recommend to store it longer than that refrigerated
While yarrow tea is very effective and can help with several issues it must be taken in moderation. Yarrow has not been shown to be safe for pregnant or breastfeeding women as it could affect menstrual cycle.