In a former life, many years before this one, I was prominent Egyptologist. During an expedition into the Medjai, my team and I discovered the tomb of a powerful sorcerer, one who was known to dance with demons, and conjure the servants of Anubis to fulfill his pharaonic duties. The massive earthen sepulcher, dotted with hieroglyphs and other drawings, warned us not to draw near, lest we face the magic man’s wrath. Despite all the desperate urging and wails from our terrified local guides, I forced crowbar into and cracked seal of that ancient resting place, unleashing a fetid wind that blew by and whispered a curse that lives on to this day:
“For disrupting my eternal sleep, I doom you and your entire bloodline. From this day forward, you will never be able to travel via airplane without getting a very annoying flu-like virus”
Ignoring how the ancient Egyptians could have preordained modern commercial air-travel and classification of specific orthomyxoviridaes, the curse has plagued me my entire life. No matter what I try – vitamins, rest, exercise, diet – nothing seems to be able to keep my normally strong immune system safe from being confined with 100+ strangers in a box full of recycled air.
I just got back from a trip to England, and they haven’t finished that trans-Atlantic bridge they’ve been talking about, so here I sit, sick. I’ve sweated like I just finished a marathon, taken more medicine than recommended by the label on the bottle, slept for so long that the beginning of one SyFy movie blended into the end of another. My biggest issue with being sick isn’t the actual symptoms; sure, they’re annoying as hell, but they can be dealt with, assuaged. The real punch-in-the-stomach of being sick is the down time. The inability to write or edit because of brain fog, the muscles aches that keep you from covering distances any longer than bathroom to bed, the full-fledged loss of hours or days that could have been productive and full of life, all because your immune system refused to show up for work.
I’m always willing to try home remedies, especially those that are tangentially related to beer. Andrew of Das Ale House mentioned throwing some hops into my tea as a beery panacea, and since I was going to make some anyway, I figured I’d give it a go. Hops act as a preservative for beer, and some medical research suggests they are also anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-insomnia. Plus, they smell and taste great, which is a much needed psychological boon when you can only breathe out of one nostril.
How to Make Hop Tea
Things you’ll need:
- Hops (I picked a few fresh cones off my bines, but pellets would do)
- Tea (I used green, as I didn’t want to overwhelm the hops)
- A cup (to put the tea in)
- Hot water (because cold steeping takes way too long)
I know this isn’t the most sophisticated recipe I’ve ever come up with, but whatever, I’m sick.
Step 1: Heat up the water
I used the microwave, but the kettle works too if you’re going to be all English and prescriptivist about it. You have to get the water pretty hot, as you’re going to want to pull all the good oils out of the hops (mimicking a brewing boil, I suppose).
Step 2: Add your tea
I used a plain-unflavored green tea because I thought black tea would overwhelm the subtlety of the hop aroma, and add too much acidity when mixed with the alpha acids of the hops. I think white tea would work too, but I didn’t have any to experiment with. Orange pekoe might be a good partner in this bath-time ballet, too. I’m no tea expert.
Step 3: Add your hops
I didn’t let the hops dry (because I’m impatient), so they needed to steep a bit longer. I used six, largish cones from my first year Willamette bines. Any less and I don’t think you’d notice the aroma much, any more and the tea would probably be too bitter to drink.
Step 4: Let steep
Let the tea bag steep for ~45-60 seconds. Remove the hops when they sink to the bottom, or leave them in while you drink the tea. Warning: if you leave them in the whole time, the last few sips are intense (read: acrid and bitter).
Step 5: Drink
It may be because I’m a little partial to the smell and taste of hops, or it may because I can barely smell anything given the amount of mucous that has taken residence in my sinuses, but I thought this was some excellent tea. Time will tell if it makes me feel any better, but either way, it’s the closest I can get to an IPA without actually drinking an IPA.