Elderflower season is upon us again and since last year when I made elderflower cordial, my thoughts have been set to making tea. The simplest use for elderflowers. A long while ago I came across a beautiful old book with the longest title ‘Wild Fruits, Berries, Nuts & Flowers – 101 good recipes for using them’. Dated to 1942 and it has my mind full of hedgerow produce and what to do with it. For elderflowers it has only two recipes (though many more for the berries), one for a vinegar and one for a pickle but just above them sits dandelion tea and that got me thinking…
elderflower tea – recipe
The recipe (if indeed you can call it that) is very simple, as is the method. Simply pick the elderflower umbels, allowing one per cup of tea, and shake off any resident insects. According to my lovely book, the best time to pick them is just as the flowers begin to open as fully open flowers lose both pollen and flavour.
When you have them home, simply lay them out on sheets of baking paper in a warm dry space and leave them to dry. I turn them every day or so as it seems to help the drying process. Once they are fully dry you can gently pull the flowers from the stems and store them in jam jars for up to a year, using a heaped spoon per cup of tea.
As for the tea, here are a few suggestions…
If you are impatient, a single fresh umbel can be used in a cup of hot water. I like mine with a slice of lemon too… And on that note, while drying the flowers I am also drying slices of lemon using the same method. If sweetness is your thing maybe stir in a spoonful of honey too.
I would guess that if flat space is limited, you could try drying the umbels strung or bunched together with string and hanging somewhere, I’m sure this would work equally well.
Whatever way you choose to use the dried flowers, enjoy!