I’ve heard of rose hip tea before, but never been exactly sure what it was. I always imagined it as something a curvaceous woman named Rose pours out of a pewter tea pot into dainty china cups with matching saucers. But on a weekend getaway at a cabin in Eastern Washington, we were hiking a nearby mountain and came across a bush with lovely pink and orange berries. “Rose hips!” exclaimed Eric’s mother. The image of curvy Rose flew from my mind, replaced with the image of Mountain Cabin Diana. I immediately began plucking the glowing buds from the bush and filling one of my cargo pockets. “You’ll probably stain your pants,” Eric said. “I don’t care, I’m foraging!!!”
As soon as we got back to the cabin I put a pot of water on the stove to boil. I love gas stoves! It’s amazing how much faster water can heat on a gas burner than my electric ones at home. I dropped in all the rose hips but one which I promptly took a bite out of. “Ummm, it doesn’t really taste like anything.” “That’s okay,” said Eric’s mom, “It should still make good tea. My mom did it all the time, I’m not really sure how though.” Although I brought my laptop to get some writing done, I couldn’t look up how to make rose hip tea because there is of course no internet here in the mountains. That would sort of defeat the purpose of getting away.
After the berries had boiled for a few minutes, I smashed them with the back of a spoon to release their pulp and copious bounty of seeds. I turned off the heat and let the bludgeoned berries steep for 20 minutes while I worked on another blog post (offline of course!). Everyone else was taking their after hike nap, or quietly reading, but all I could think about the pot sitting on the stove across the cabin from me. I’m making tea, in a cabin, from something I picked in the wild! It took me back to my childhood and I didn’t even care that the excitement inside me was so girlish.
I brought the tea back to a quick boil (hooray for gas again!) to heat it up, then took the pot, a mug and a filter out to the porch. The cabin we’re staying in has a full lanai (or deck) that wraps around the entire building and gives amazing views of valleys and mountains. I poured the tea, clear as perfect beef stock, through the filter and into my mug. I was afraid to let my hopes rise because it’d no fun to be disappointed, but as I inhaled the steam from my brew the scent of fresh picked corn that’s just been husked wafted out of the mug. I took a sip and smiled in contentment at the slightly herbal flavor that was somehow reminiscent of a rose without tasting or smelling floral. The taste is so mild, without a hint of bitterness, that I don’t even consider adding sugar or milk.
I grabbed my laptop and my tea, and am sitting in the Adirondack chair, capturing the experience before it fades from my memory. The chirping of crickets at first seems deafening, but as I let myself relax I realize that there are in fact at least three different kinds of insects joining in chorus. Each one has its own pitch and timbre, and you can even pick out sopranos, altos and baritone bugs. A couple of jet black crows mockingly jeer at my from the sentinel pine two trees away, or perhaps they’re calling out threats to the lone hawk circling lazily overhead.
I sip my rose hip tea, a new image now associated with the name. A forager, a pioneer, searching for edible plants (and flying by the seat of her pants!) to create comforting and healthy treats. The tea warms my tummy, and my soul.
Rose Hip Teamakes about 2 servings
12-15 rose hip berries
2 1/2 cups water
Place washed rose hips into a small pot and cover with the water. Bring the water to a boil and let boil 3-5 minutes. Turn off the heat and use the back of a spoon to smash open each rose hip. Let them steep in the water for 20 minutes. Turn the heat back on to warm the tea. Pour through a coffee filter into two mugs. Enjoy!
Approximate cost/serving: Free baby!
Vegetarian/gluten free: yes to both and vegan too!