Last Updated on June 3, 2023
Did you know you can make tea from those wild violets growing everywhere right now? You can use violet flowers for tea while they’re in bloom, and wild violet leaves throughout the growing season. Here’s what to know about how to make wild violet tea.
WHY MAKE WILD VIOLET TEA?
Most people hear the word ‘tea’ and think of something you brew using a tea bag you’ve bought at the store.
Did you know you’re surrounded by plants that you can make tea from? You’ll be astonished by how many wild herbs growing in your yard or neighborhood make tasty, nutritious teas. In early spring one of the best uses for creeping charlie is tea, while prolific dandelions can be brewed into dandelion tea. A little later in the season, when the violets come out, you can make this beautiful wild violets tea.
Besides giving you all kinds of phytonutrients you don’t otherwise get in your diet, these wild teas are super fun to make. And they’re free!
Best of all, foraging wild teas is about as eco-friendly a way to source your tea as you can possibly imagine.
In the case of wild violet tea, it’s also full of beneficial compounds that have been used medicinally for centuries. Modern research supports these uses for violets.
MEDICINAL PROPERTIES OF WILD VIOLETS
- Violets are thought to stimulate the lymphatic and immune systems
- Violets are rich in vitamins, minerals, and soothing mucilage
- Violets can be used as an expectorant and demulcent, so they’re a choice natural cough remedy, among many herbs for cough to keep on hand
- Violets contain anti-inflammatory compounds and are often recommended for arthritis and headaches
- Viola odorata has been studied as a possible remedy for insomnia
- Violets may be used topically for a number of skin conditions, including eczema and rashes
- Violets have diuretic and laxative properties, so use in moderation.
You can learn more about the benefits of violets from Herbal Academy.
WHAT DOES WILD VIOLET TEA TASTE LIKE?
Tea made from different species of violets will have different flavors, and fresh violet tea tastes different than tea made from dried violets. Additionally, tea brewed from the leaves differs in flavor from that made from flowers, and the color made from leaves and flowers will also be different, as you can see in the photo below. The photo makes the tea made from flowers greener than it was. It was more blue, though note the color fades with time.
Depending on the species of violet you have access to, your tea may be more or less flavorful. The common blue violet found in much of North America unfortunately doesn’t offer much in the way of flavor when made with fresh flowers and leaves, though the startling color of tea from the flowers is quite nice. However, their mild flavor makes them easier to enjoy with other herbs than many of the more bitter greens you find in spring.
I find the flavor of tea brewed from the fresh leaves of blue violets a bit too chlorophyll-y and tend to use them as additions to the teas I make using fresh herbs like lemon balm. Try mixing wild violet leaves or flowers with fresh mint or hibiscus tea or other favorite herbs to add flavor.
If you can wait a few days to make your violet tea, it will have a lot more flavor. Even my somewhat bland violets produce a pleasantly floral tea if I leave the blossoms and leaves out to dry on a towel for a few days. The leaves and flowers don’t have to be completely dry to use them this way, though if you want to store them for later use, you need to make sure they’re completely dry and crumbly, or they will mold.
Dried wild violet leaves brewed without flowers have a flavor more like a green tea, but they’re still pretty neutral. They’re excellent to keep on hand for cold season for use in either tea or syrup on their own or along with other herbs for colds.
If you have access to sweet violets, however, you may find the floral flavor of wild violet tea enough on its own. Experiment and see what you think.
FORAGING WILD VIOLETS FOR TEA
Of course, anytime you forage a new plant, you need to make absolutely sure to positively identify it using multiple features of the plant. There are some plants that resemble wild violets that you shouldn’t eat.
–> Always consult a good field guide or go with an experienced forager to ensure you’ve correctly identified the plant.
Also be sure you know which parts of the plants are edible. While some plants are entirely safe to eat, others have both edible and poisonous parts (elderberry, for example). We eat only the flowers and leaves of wild violets. The roots and seeds are poisonous.
Check out some of the best foraging books available to stock your library with reliable references. If you want to develop a deeper understanding of how to use herbs, I also recommend acquiring some of the best herbalism books to keep at the ready.
One of my all-time favorite foraging experts, Samuel Thayer, has a new guide releasing soon. I’ve consulted his three previous books often for their thorough plant descriptions and entertaining writeups, and I was thrilled when I saw he’d come out with a guide putting all his decades of plant knowledge in one massive book, covering 679 species, nearly double what you’ll find in the Peterson Guide. You can order your own copy here, or order direct from the author’s website.
You might consider taking a foraging class to hone your skills further. The Herbal Academy’s online foraging course teaches plant identification and can help you feel more confident foraging medicinal plants. They also have numerous herbalism courses worth checking out.
WHICH TYPE OF VIOLETS CAN BE USED TO MAKE VIOLET TEA?
Most common wild violets can be used for tea. The most flavorful type of violet is Viola odorata, or sweet violet, which is native to Europe and is most commonly called for as herbal medicine. The common wild violets found in North America are Viola sororia, and Rico Cech reports that Viola tricolor or heartsease may also be used but is considered more gentle in its action.
Though all colors of violets (blue, white, purple, mixed) — are considered edible, according to one of my favorite sources for foraging wisdom, “Wildman” Steve Brill, those with yellow flowers may “cause gastrointestinal distress.” Johnny jump ups (viola tricolor) and cousin pansy are also edible.
Note that African violets (Streptocarpus ssp.) are not true violets and should not be consumed. Here are some other look alikes to be aware of if you’re foraging violets.
PRESERVING VIOLET FLOWERS AND LEAVES
If you’d like to enjoy violet tea beyond the growing season, you can save some of your violet harvest for later use. Violet flowers and leaves can be dried easily without a dehydrator providing the air isn’t too humid and you have a place they will get plenty of air flow. If you’ve got too much humidity or would rather dry them quickly, a dehydrator will prove a useful tool for drying so much more than foraged herbs.
If you plan to dry large quantities of violets or other herbs, I highly recommend getting a collapsible drying screen like this one. It has loads of space for laying out the herbs you gather, and it folds up into a flat circle that’s easy to can tuck away when the season ends. I’ve used it to try huge quantities of foraged Canadian wood nettle, plantain, linden flowers, goldenrod, elderflowers, birch leaves, and so much more.
Store leaves and flowers whole in an airtight container for up to one year. Dried violet leaves are especially helpful to have on hand for soothing coughs during cold season.
If you want to have helpful medicinal herbs on hand all year round, learn more about preserving herbs.
HOW TO MAKE WILD VIOLET TEA
As is the case with other plants like dandelion, a tea made from the flowers will have a slightly different flavor than that made from the leaves. More noticeable will be the color, which in the case of violet flowers will be a lovely blue, while the leaves produce a tea that’s more yellow.
Tea made from wild violet leaves is considered useful for treating cold symptoms, pain, and insomnia. During the growing season, I often add violet leaves to my pots of fresh lemon balm tea, one of my all-time favorite herbs for sleep.
When fresh violet leaves are abundant, you can brew a big handful per cup of boiling water. Chop or tear the leaves and leave steeping overnight to extract maximum medicinal benefits.
You can use a mix of leaves and flowers as well, or make tea with only the flowers. Violet flower tea would look absolutely stunning brewing in a glass teapot.
Since violet leaves are especially helpful during cold season, it’s a good idea to dry some to have on hand in winter. Herbalist Lise Woolf prefers older leaves for medicinal purposes.
Rico Cech says that stems are safe to consume along with leaves and flowers. However, the roots and seeds will cause vomiting and are to be avoided.
WILD VIOLET TEA RECIPE
Wild Violet Tea Recipe (Using Fresh or Dried Violets)
This nutritious wild violet tea is a fun way to use plentiful spring violets. You can use the flowers during their short season, or enjoy the abundant leaves throughout the growing season.
- 1 large handful positively identified wild violet leaves and/or flowers (when chopped, roughly 3 to 4 tablespoons) or 1 tablespoon dried crumbled violet leaf and/or flowers
- 1 cup freshly boiled filtered water
- Rinse and chop or tear the violet leaves and flowers and place in a teapot or infuser.
- Cover with hot water and allow to steep until the water has cooled.
- Strain and serve.
You can flavor violet tea with lemon and honey if the tea needs flavor, or combine with other favorite herbs.
Violet tea will have a more prominent floral flavor if you allow the leaves to dry on a clean towel for a few days or use dried wild violets.
Always make sure you've positively identified any wild plant using a reliable foraging guide.
Remember that wild violets have a laxative effect, so don't overdo it!
Nutrition Information:Yield: 1 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 0Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 9mgCarbohydrates: 0gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 0g
Nutritional information was auto-generated based on serving size, number of servings, and typical information for the ingredients listed. To obtain the most accurate representation of the nutritional information in a given recipe, please calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients and amounts used, using your preferred nutrition calculator. Under no circumstances shall this website or author be responsible for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on the given nutritional information. You are solely responsible for ensuring that any nutritional information provided is accurate and complete.
PRECAUTIONS WITH WILD VIOLET TEA
Wild violets have a laxative effect, so best not to drink too much violet tea at once 😉
I hope you enjoy some tasty cups of wild violet tea this season!
Other foraged teas to try this season:
- Elderflower Tea
- Goldenrod Tea
- Mulberry Leaf Tea
- Ginkgo biloba tea
- Elderberry Tea
- Pine Needle Tea
- Spruce Tea
If you have extra violets on hand, you might want to explore our new collection of wild violet recipes.
Save this wild violet tea recipe for later!
Disclaimer: I’m a health enthusiast, not a medical professional. Content on this website is intended for informational purposes only and is not meant to provide personalized medical advice. I draw on numerous health sources, some of which are linked above. Please consult them for more information and a licensed professional for personalized recommendations.
Susannah is a proud garden geek and energy nerd who loves healthy food and natural remedies. Her work has appeared in Mother Earth Living, Ensia, Northern Gardener, Sierra, and on numerous websites. Her first book, Everything Elderberry, released in September 2020 and has been a #1 new release in holistic medicine, naturopathy, herb gardening, and other categories. Find out more and grab your copy here.
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