Echinacea is a genus of herbaceous flowering plants in the daisy family. It has ten species, which are commonly called coneflowers. They are found only in eastern and central North America, where they grow in moist to dry prairies and open wooded areas.
This flower is well-loved not only for its beauty and its ability to attract butterflies, but also for its medicinal value. Several tribes such as Cheyenne and Sioux, used echinacea as an antiseptic and painkiller. They also used it to treat insect and snake bites.
The most widely known variety, the purple coneflower, grows to about 18 inches tall, and sprouts a clump of flowers about two feet wide.The plant’s flowers are daisy-like, with attractively drooping petals in a wide range of colors.
Plant Echinacea plants in the spring or the fall, in well-drained soil in full to part sun. Echinacea is easy to grow from seed, as well, but requires a cold, moist period—called stratification—in order to germinate. Sow seeds thickly in the fall (after hard-frost in the north and before winter rains elsewhere), covering lightly to discourage birds from eating them. Seeds will germinate in the spring. Most plants will bloom during the second year—one reason it’s advantageous to start with transplants.Echinacea thrives in full to partial sun. Plants need at least four hours of sunlight per day. The plants grow natively along the edges of woodlands, so they will thrive in spots with morning shade and afternoon sun or vice versa. Echinacea will tolerate poor rocky soil, but will not grow in wet, mucky soil. Mulch plants with compost at the time of planting.
Echinacea also is an herb commonly used to make herbal supplements, essential oils, tea, and herbal remedies. The tea is made by infusing the flowers and leaves of the echinacea plant in hot water
There are three main types of echinacea plant used to make tea: Echinacea purpurea, Echinacea pallida and Echinacea angustifolia. Echinacea angustifolia boats large leaves and violet-colored flowers while the pallida variety has flowers that are more pale rose in color. The purpurea variety has reddish purple flowers and is revered in Europe as an immune system booster.
Echinacea is packed with polysaccharides and vitamin C that help promote overall health and well-being. Echinacea tea is an herbal tea and naturally caffeine-free so it can be enjoyed all day long.
Echinacea tea has long been used as a staple in improving the immune system and fending off infections. Echinacea offers antibacterial properties that prevent pathogens from making you sick. Echinacea tea can also soothe a sore throat and minimize aches and pains caused by the common cold and flu.
How to Brew Echinacea Tea
Echinacea tea can be brewed using tea bags or a variety of different plant parts. Echinacea root, leaves, and flowers can all be used to brew this flowery tea. Make sure to always use high quality loose teas or tea bags for the best flavor.
- 1 handful fresh echinacea leaves or 1 tablespoon echinacea root or leaves
- 8-10 oz water
- Sweetener such as honey (OPTIONAL)
1. Heat water on the stove or in a tea kettle until it reaches a rapid boil.
2. Place the dried or fresh echinacea in a tea strainer and set in a tea cup. Add the boiling water.
3. Steep the echinacea for 10-15 minutes. The longer the tea steeps, the stronger the floral flavor will become.
4. Add sweeteners or flavor additives such as lemon, honey, and mint. Enjoy!