If you want to keep elderberry tea on hand, especially during the winter cold and flu season, you can make it from the dried berries or more simply, from a teabag. To brew a milder tea, you can use elderflowers. You can also make the tea by using elderberry syrup made from dried berries, although this is more typically used for game sauces, cordials or sorbets than for tea tinctures. Brewing the tea is simplicity itself.
Pour a pint (16 ounces) of water into a saucepan and add 2 tablespoons of dried elderberries. Raise the heat until the mixture boils, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to sit for five minutes. Pour the tea through a strainer and add honey.
To make the syrup, destem and wash 3 pounds of elderberries. Mash or immersion blend the berries and boil them in a large pot. Run the resulting mash through a food mill or a jelly bag. Boil the resulting juice with an equal amount of sugar, skimming the froth, and then place in lidded jars. Pour 1/4 cup of the syrup in a mug and add hot water. Stir.
Harvest the large white umbrels, or flowerheads, from elders growing away from a roadside. Use 1 or 2 umbrels per cup of tea. Place the umbrels in a teapot and add water just before it reaches the boiling point. Allow the tea to steep for 10 minutes and pour through a sieve to serve. You can also dry the flowerheads and use 1 heaped teaspoon per pot to make tea.
Add lemon balm or mint to taste to your elder flower tea.
Heat 6 to 8 ounces of water for each cup of elderberry tea. Remove the kettle from the heat just before it reaches a roiling boil. Pour the water over the bag and let the tea steep for 5 to 7 minutes. Check the tea maker’s instructions for any variations for blends of elderberry and other teas such as rooibos.