Children should wear long trousers and long sleeves during this activity
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.
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.
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.
Steep in boiling water for 10 – 15 minutes. You need approximately twice as much water as leaves. The tea should turn light green.
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?
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).
Check to see if anybody is likely to have a severe reaction to the nettles and take appropriate precautions