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Learning About the Celts - Making Nettle Tea

Learning About the Celts - Making Nettle Tea

Collaboroo Writer

Straining nettles (3).JPG

Use this fun activity when studying the Celts to help children understand the connection between the Celts and the land they lived on.

Learning Outcomes

 Key Stage 2 History

Pupils should be taught about:

  • changes in Britain from the Stone Age to the Iron Age


  • Gloves
  • Children should wear long trousers and long sleeves during this activity



  1.  Before setting out, talk to the children about nettles. Explain that nettles can sting, which is why we need to cover up.  Ask the children “Why do you think that nettles sting when you touch them?” (It is an adaptation to keep predators away.)Explain that the stinging is caused by hairs on the nettles which break and release irritating chemicals onto the skin. Show children how to identify dock leaves, which they can use to soothe the sting.
  2.  Discuss where we get our food from now. Where do the children think that the Celts got their food from? Explain that the Celts didn’t have supermarkets and had to hunt, grow or gather their food. One ingredient they gathered and used was nettles.
  3.  How to gather the nettles
    • Wear gloves! It is possible to pick nettles without stinging yourself, if you avoid the hairs, but children are better off wearing gloves and long sleeves!
    • Make sure the leaves look healthy.
    • Only take the top couple of pairs of leaves, to allow the plant to recover.
  • Wash the nettles thoroughly.

Steeping nettles (1).JPG

  • Steep in boiling water for 10 – 15 minutes.  You need approximately twice as much water as leaves. The tea should turn light green.

Straining nettles (3).JPG

  • Strain through a colander or tea strainer to remove the leaves.

 Taste the tea - what does it taste like?

Why do you think it doesn’t sting you now?

Extensions Ideas

  • Adding lemon juice to the tea will turn it pink – consider why this is?
  • Research and try out other recipes using nettles. (For example nettle soup or using nettles as a green vegetable in a meal).

Top Tips

  • Check to see if anybody is likely to have a severe reaction to the nettles and take appropriate precautions
  • Make sure that activity is risk assessed.

@SamC I love this activity, it works well as a historical lesson, but also to encourage children to understand their connection to the earth and the need to look after it. Have you tried it with children? How did they react to the tea? Would you touch on the hunting aspect of Celtic or other cultures? 

Collaboroo Writer

Thanks @CatherineA, yes I have tried it with children. Let's just say they enjoyed the activity much more than the tea! It's definitely important to talk about hunting too, I think it can be difficult for children to make the connection between animals and the plastic wrapped meat they see in the supermarket, and putting it in a historical context can help them to see it.