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Witch hazel is a dark, woody shrub native to most of North America. It features reddish-green leaves and stringy, yellow flowers. When added to boiling water, the bruised bark and leaves steep into a tea that can be used as a wash for many skin irritations, including rashes, eczema, and open wounds. Taken internally, the tea may help tone the lungs and make the drinker less susceptible to wounds and infection. Choosing the best witch hazel tea involves reading the ingredients on commercial varieties to gauge the viability and concentration of witch hazel. Harvesting wild witch hazel to make tea involves finding clean, fully formed leaves free of pesticides.
Many tea companies specialize in different kinds of herbal teas, including some that contain witch hazel. When choosing the best witch hazel tea, reading the packaging should always be the first step. This herb should not be taken in large amounts, so witch hazel should ideally be third or fourth on the list of herbs in the tea. The mixture may contain other herbs, like black tea, green tea, chamomile, or orange zest. These are often included to improve the flavor of the tea and help the witch hazel do its work.
Many people consuming herbal teas prefer those without preservatives or artificial chemicals. These things are usually listed on the packaging as well. Artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives — like malodextrin — may not be desirable to those taking herbal remedies. These things may interfere with the efficacy of the herbs. Preservatives in witch hazel tea may also indicate that the tea is not as well-sealed or fresh as organic versions. Organic witch hazel tea usually contains only herbs and no chemicals at all.
Some believe that the best witch hazel tea can only be made at home. This may be true for those that like to know exactly what goes into the things they consume. When collecting wild materials for tea, it is important to know exactly what the plant looks like and choose only the ripest materials. In the case of witch hazel tea, this usually means the leaves. Bark may be harvested from the specimen as well, but those inexperienced at harvesting bark may unintentionally harm the tree this way.
Leaves for witch hazel tea should be bright green with a slightly red tinge around the edges. The leaves should be free of brown or yellow spots, mildew, and insect spores. Harvesters should typically only take every third leaf from any one twig or branch. The harvested leaves may be dried in a paper bag for several weeks before being crumbled into a tea. Typically, only a pinch of witch hazel is necessary. Those looking for a flavorful tea should combine the witch hazel with other herbs.
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