Hops are good for so much more than just making beer. They provide wonderful medicinal benefits and lovely shade for our home. Hops are just one of the many medicinal plants we grow here on the homestead.
We have our hops growing right outside our front door in our old-fashioned cottage garden, where they are easy to harvest as needed.
I love to make a good cup of hop tea to relax and enjoy in the late afternoon. You can use fresh or dry leaves with no tea bag required!
What are Hops?
Hops are the flowers of the hop plant. The hop plant is a climbing perennial with cone-shaped hops flowers. It grows very quickly and climbs well when it has something to attach to. Hop plants die back to their roots each year, so all of that growth happens every growing season.
Hops are grown around the globe in rich soil with full sun, but the places most well known for growing hops are Germany, the Czech Republic, New Zealand and North America.
Hops are technically a flower (even though they are shaped like a cone), so they have no gluten-producing grains making them a gluten-free food.
Medicinal Benefits of Hops
The most common thing hops are known for is giving beer its classic bitter flavor, but hops have many other uses as well. Pro-Tip: Hop is a phytoestrogen-containing plant meaning that it’s the plant version of estrogen. Those who are pregnant, have estrogen issues, and small children should use sparingly.
Please remember I’m not a doctor or a licensed practitioner, this information is not intended to treat or diagnose but for informational purposes only. Please contact your health practitioner before adding herbal remedies to your daily routine.
- Skin Care – Hop is a great source of antioxidants making it a wonderful product to use in salves and scrubs. The antioxidants help your body fight against free radicals and give your skin a youthful glow. Hop also has anti-inflammatory qualities, so it can reduce redness and puffiness in skin.
- Hair Care – You may have heard the benefits of rinsing your hair in beer. While it’s true that beer will give your hair shine, you will also smell like beer. You can get the same benefits for your hair by making hop tea and rinsing your hair in it. Hop tea is also known to aid in curing dandruff.
- Improves the Digestive System – Hops accelerate the body’s metabolism, which speeds up a sluggish digestive system. Since it’s considered a bitter plant, you can drink a small amount before a meal as an aperitif to get your digestion moving.
- Relieves Anxiety – Anxiety is one of the biggest medical concerns facing people today. The hop plant has sedative qualities, which makes it very useful in managing anxiety.
- Pain Relief – Hops have some analgesic qualities which may help with chronic pain.
- Restlessness – Hops can treat nighttime restlessness, including restless leg syndrome.
- Colds and Flu – Hops have antiviral and antibacterial properties, which make them very helpful during the cold and flu season.
- Sleep Aid – Hops contain ingredients that have been found to influence serotonin production in the body, which makes you sleepier. When combined with valerian, it has amazing sleep benefits making it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep longer.
- Irritability – Because of its calming properties, hops can be very helpful in treating irritability.
Harvest hops in late August or early September, depending on your location. Select a cone and tear or cut it in half. A ripe cone will have yellow pollen inside and should smell “hoppy.”
Another easy way to see if your hops are ready to pick is to squeeze one. If you squeeze it and the cone springs back to its shape, it’s ready. If you squeeze it and it stays compressed, it’s too early to harvest them.
Harvest hops on a dry morning after any dew has dried from the plant.
Your first-year harvest may be small, so don’t be discouraged. By the second year, most plants are producing very well.
What Is Hop Tea?
Hop tea is made by pouring hot water over fresh or dried hop cones and allowing them to steep. It’s great for a bedtime tea because of its sedative properties.
Hops have been used to make tea just as long as they’ve been used to flavor beer. Hop tea is made with hops, so it has the same bitter flavor as beer but doesn’t contain any alcohol.
If you plan to drink hop tea, you should know it can be quite bitter. For that reason, you may consider adding something else during the brewing process, like chamomile or peppermint. You can also flavor or sweeten your hop tea with vanilla, honey, or your favorite sweetener.
Supplies Needed For Making Hop Tea
Hop Tea is easy to make with a few simple supplies and ingredients.
- 5-10 Hops Cones – Hops are easy to grow but not always easy to find. Hops are perennials, and once you plant a hop, it needs little maintenance. Try finding a friend or neighbor who can give you a start, or you may have to order one from a mail-order catalog.
- Tea Kettle – Any sort of tea kettle will work for heating your water.
- Teapot – You can use a teapot and a strainer for making the tea, use a tea cup with a built-in brew basket, or use a tea infuser.
- Hot Water – You want your water hot but not boiling. Boiling water can destroy some of the medicinal qualities of the hops.
- Sweetener or Flavor Additive – Hops have a bitter taste, so if you don’t care for it, you may want to add peppermint leaves, vanilla, or some honey to help the flavor.
How to Make Hop Tea
You can drink this hop tea recipe for its medicinal purposes, or you can also use it as a toner for your skin and as a rinse to make your hair shiny.
- Harvest your hops. You will need 5-10 hop cones to make a small teapot.
- Put your hop cones into your teapot or brew basket.
- Pour hot water over the cones. Don’t use boiling water because it will destroy some of the medicinal properties of the hops.
- Put a lid on the teapot or teacup. The medicinal properties can escape in the steam, so keep it covered while it brews.
- Let your tea brew for approximately 15 minutes and strain into a cup.
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