(Originally published 29 April 2015 here )
Under the surface, your writer is ... seething.
Yes! I'm angry. It's about one of those things I should expect, I should just shrug off. I should get over myself. But dammit to hell, it's just not right. It's morally wrong and it's downright dangerous and it pisses me off.
Superficially, this is about teabags.
More deeply, it is about misplaced trust and a whole lot of other things that I'm not even sure I can talk about coherently but if'n I don't try, I'm going to implode. Not explode, of course, that would be messy and the people around me would be stuck with the mess. I'm more of an imploding, keep my mess to myself, don't want to be a bother kind of gal.
This is, approximately, what dried nettles look like. I say approximately because these are the last of my stash, 2 years old, and not in the greatest condition. I would not actually use this batch, as I find the colour a bit washed out.
Now below, the contents of a tea bag from a box of commercial "nettle tea"
If you enlarge these, you'll see they bear little resemblance to each other. That's because the commercial version is not nettles.
Now let me show you a picture taken this past winter of true nettle infusion. Paul took the picture only because he was so entranced by the beautiful emerald colour. This infusion was made from really good nettles picked and dried a few months before. This batch was probably steeped for at least 4 hours, probably more. Pretty, ain't it?
Compare to the commercial "nettle tea" infused a mere 30 minutes. Not so pretty. Brown.
What's going on here? My hunch is that the contents of the "nettle" tea bag (whatever that may be) are either adulterated with plain old orange pekoe or black "tea" or they contain dye.
The pics of the commercial tea were sent to me by a friend (thank you B!). He's an intelligent guy. He's even a little cynical in all the right ways. He just assumed, rightly enough, that if he bought a tea at a store that is labelled "nettles" he would, indeed, be getting nettles.
I'm not going to name the brand, but it doesn't matter. It was a big name, one I used to trust back before I started growing my own herbs. Since most of these tea companies are all part of one conglomerate that carries different brands, and they all come from the same suppliers, I see no reason to believe one brand is better than another.
Many people are learning (some from me) that partaking of nettles can help them deal with health issues. But they will only get help with those issues from real damn nettles. Who knows what is in this brown "tea"? Is it something that could make matters worse?
Oh crap. I can feel myself about to become incoherent. I've made my point, yes? You can't trust the big companies to sell you real herbs any more than you can trust McDonald's to serve you real food.
So, now "B" knows, and so do you. That means I've reached about a dozen people, and that's a dozen more than I could have reached if I didn't put this out there.