Herbal teas not only strengthen health, they offer an insight to the abundant plant life around us. It is a wonderfully relaxing activity - collecting these plants for yourselves, and then drying and preparing them for tea the way you like it best.
Gathering herbs for teas is a very popular pastime in Latvia. However, we suggest that visitors to Latvia consult with local experts both about the plants and about the most suitable places for gathering them. Although Latvia's national parks and nature reserves offer guided tours on medicinal plants, it is forbidden to gather plants along the special nature trails: if each visitor picked but a plant, the place would very soon be left bare.
However, if you ask the guide, s/he will gladly show you the places where the gathering of plants will neither harm nature nor damage the specially prepared study trails. You should also bear in mind, that many plants are protected by law collection of these is permitted in small quantities and only for your own consumption. It is also not permitted to clear away all of the best known medicinal plants from any one particular location – enough plants must be left to allow for natural re-growth.
The very satisfying pleasure of Herb gathering may be fully experienced at any of the 40 Environmental health farms. These farms offer the opportunity to enjoy the full spectrum of nature's healing powers. Saunas with freshly picked herbs and teas, walks, and even sleeping on herbal plant aromatised beds. All of these farms are to be found in picturesque locations and have professional organic farming certification.
For instance, Upmaļi farm in the Renda parish of Kurzeme, grows a wide assortment of medicinal plants, makes pillows filled with fragrant herbs, and offers herbal teas. The whole family consists of qualified Reiki practitioners with experience in organising health camps and international eco-camps. A traditional herbal sauna is also available for large groups.
And the farm Liepkalni-Vēži at Sidgunda in the parish of Mālpils, the beautiful scenery was created as a real garden of health with ehinacea, camomile, peppermint and other herbal plants. July is the time for the blossoming of the camomile and the farm celebrates a camomile festival.
These health gardens have been established not far from the township of Skrīveri next to the old fort Ragāres where Māra and Jānis Vaivari do their work taking into account scientific and ecological considerations. A place knows as Cērpi in the parish of Skulte of the Limbaži region offers a very broad programme of recreation and health cures. At Cērpi it is possible to become better acquainted with the collection of curative herbs, to learn more about Baltic ornaments and signs in relation to health issues, and to enjoy a relaxing time with healing stones. Plus all the other procedures for a healthy organism: sauna, massage, meditation.
Honey in your tea
Honey is a natural and healthier alternative to sugar. A spoonful of honey in your tea is also said to be a traditional remedy for the common cold and fevers. In Latvia, honey is sold at supermarkets, farmers’ markets and specialist shops. You can choose from different types of honey, some lighter and some darker, some runnier and some denser. The colour and consistency depend on the bees’ preferred plant. Popular types are heather, meadow flower and rapeseed.