Rose hips, or rose haws are the fruit that forms from a pollinated rose. They are high in Vitamin C and antioxidants and many gardeners love to use them in teas, marmalades and oils.
Rose hips or rose haws have been used by people around the world for centuries. They are high in many nutrients and their use is a great preventative of colds and respiratory ailments. Since the early days of history, rose hips, in one form or another were used as laxatives, astringents, diuretics, nuitrients and love potions. During WWII wild rose hips were gathered by the people of England and Scandinavia and made into syrup to replace the Vitamin C rich citrus fruits that were unavailable because of the sea blockades.
I have a beautiful alba rose that produces a huge crop of hips each year. The orange-red berries are oval and about an inch long. They ripen about the first of October and so I decided to dry them for tea. Be sure to only use hips from roses that have not had any pesticides sprayed on them and do not gather hips from along busy highways where the exhaust fumes settle on the fruits. Pick only the unblemished fruits and leave the ones with soft spots or mold for the birds and animals. They love rose hips too and they are a great source of winter nourishment for them.
Species roses and old garden roses are the best ones for harvesting rose hips. Many modern roses do not form hips and there is a wide range of potency of the nutrients too. The dog rose, Rosa canina is known for its large, nutritious hips and the beach rose, Rosa rugosa is another popular rose that produces spectacular hips. I had no nutrition information on my alba rose, but since it is a rose that traces its ancestry back further than the Roman Empire, I figured it was a safe bet that it had significant amounts of vitamins and antioxidants.
I harvested my rose hips and washed them thoroughly, discarding any that didn't look perfect.
Many people wait until the hips are dry to sift out the hairs, but I wanted to make sure that there weren't any critters inside, so I split my hips and scooped out the insides before I put them on the dehydrator trays. It was pretty labor intensive, but there isn't any mystery as to what I'm actually making into tea.
The next morning, my rose hip halves were dry. If you do not have a dehydrator, place your material on a cookie sheet and turn your oven on as low as it will go. My hips were leathery and still had a bit of flexability when they were dry.
The coffee filters worked great. I just folded them around the tea and stapled them shut with a cotton string. I think I've got some great little stocking stuffers for my mom and sisters! Store in a covered container in a cabinet. Use your tea promptly as the nuitrients tend to degrade the longer it sits on the shelf. Use 1 tea bag to 8oz of boiling water and let it steep for 15 minutes.
Rose hips have irritating hairs on the inside along with rose seeds. These irritating hairs are the source of the novelty itching powder, so should be removed.
I have a huge patch of chocolate mint and since I was running the dehydrator anyway, I thought it might be tasty to make a combo tea. I washed my mint, patted it dry and stripped the leaves to use in the tea.
I assembled my tea bag making materials. You can purchase commercial tea bag sacks, but I figured coffee filters would do just as well. I used 2 teaspoons of rose hips and 1/2 teaspoon of the mint. I even added a clove to some of the bags too.
I had to try some of the tea and it was nice. The pink tea cup made it look pinker than it really was and the flavor was very subtle. (almost no flavor) It tasted a lot like fresh rose petals. I added a bit of honey after my initial taste test and was quite pleased with the results and intend to experiment with other teas now!