Thursday, May 24, 2012

Urban Herbs #6 - Plantain

It's been too long since I steeped anything in my yard as part of my Urban Herbs series, and for some reason plantain keeps popping up on my radar lately as a healthy herbal tea to try. I first heard about infusing plantain leaves from a post on my friend Nicole's wonderful blog and since then I've seen a few other references to steeping this wild green. Today I went outside to forage some plantain to taste for the very first time.

Like most plants there are many different varieties of plantain but it's quite easy to find this type, plantago major, competing with the grass, moss and clover that makes up a typical Seattle lawn.

My Backyard Plantain:

Most of the references I've seen online for preparing plantain tea call for dried, chopped leaves. Instead, I chose to take ten fresh leaves, muddle them in a glass measuring cup, and then steep them for ten minutes with boiling water.

The Ten Leaves:

The Steeping:

The resulting liquor was a pale, watery, greenish-yellow color. It smelled like a green banana and edamame. The flavor was mild, grassy, and a tiny bit floral. It was astringent like a persimmon though not nearly as intense. Still, I could feel a "fuzzy buzzy" sensation on my lips and tongue. Not too bad... I'd call this experiment a success but next time I'll try drying and chopping the leaves before I brew them.


Israel said...


Have you ever heard of using chewed fresh plantain leaves as a poultice for insect stings? Folks around here swear by it, but I can't say it has ever made much of a difference for me.


Brett said...

Thanks Israel. I've heard that too, though I've never tried it on myself.

We did try it once about a year ago when my daughter's arm was stung by nettles during a hike. She said it helped a lot.