Violet Flowers and Violet Flower Tea/
Learn all about violets in my ultimate guide to the health benefits, side effects, uses of viola and how to make violet blossom tea. Plus, read how to forage and make hot or iced tea with either fresh or dehydrated violet petals.
Violet flowers have been cultivated and used for medical and medicinal purposes (including for use in violet tea) for thousands of years. The edible violet flower, sometimes called English violet, wood violet or sweet violet, is popular for its refreshing taste and health benefits.
Common Violet Flower Questions
Mark Twain once said ‘Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.’ This famous tea quote expresses how hard it to move on from hurt and that we should always act to show kindness and mercy. The violet flower is also commonly known as ‘hearts-ease’ as it is believed to comfort and strengthen the heart and was the herb of choice for many emotional issues.
Let’s review this sweet pretty flower with some commonly asked questions:
What are Violet Flowers?
These beautiful purple flowers are grown in both wild landscapes and in private gardens. Depending on the climate and the region, sweet violet flowers usually bloom from spring onwards. Most violet flowers are found in the Northern Hemisphere where the climate is mild, however, some species of this plant grow in hotter and more humid climates.
Violets have been used for thousands of years. The ancient Greeks used these flowers for making perfume, this is one of the reasons that it is the symbolic flower of ancient Athens. Legend has it that Ion, the founder of Athens, was greeted with purple violets where Athens (nicknamed the city of the violet crown) was to be founded and built.
The Romans used violets to make a type of herbal tea infused wine, it was known as Violatium. The wine was created whereby the petals were placed in a linen made tea bag and immersed in wine for seven days. After this time the old infused violets were replaced with new fresh petals and immersed for another seven days before being strained. Honey was usually added for sweetness.
Many people enjoy flower tea from infusing fresh or dried violet petals in hot water. The stems and leaves can also be used for making tea, and each part of the plant tastes different. Taking violet tea (herbal infusion or tisane) has long been used to treat many ailments.
Are Pansies the Same as Violets?
Violets, also known as viola are a genus in the family ‘violaceae’. There are at least 400 species of violets in the violaceae family. All pansies are violas. Violets, including pansies have flowers with five petals and heart shaped leaves. Like other types of violets, pansies are edible and work great in salads, jams and for cake decoration.
What Species of Violets are Edible?
All violets are edible, however, different varieties will have different tastes. Wild violets generally will have a stronger and more perfume-like taste. If you are foraging for wild violets including pansies, take caution as many plants will have the same characteristics as viola and maybe toxic. There are lots of plant identification apps that are very helpful when foraging for medicinal herbs and flowers.
Is Violet Tea the Same as Purple Tea?
Purple tea, violet tea and butterfly pea flower tea often get confused as all being ‘purple tea flower’ but they are all different types of plant. Purple tea is a true tea as it comes from the Camellia sinensis plant. Purple tea is a new kind of tea that has a purple tint to the leaves. This type of tea has a delicate flavour similar to green tea. Butterfly pea flower is from the Clitoria ternatea plant and is also known as Asian pigeonwings and bluebellvine. This plant is part of the Fabaceae family of plants. When something acidic, such as lemon juice, is added to butterfly pea flower tea, this beautiful blue tea turns to a pretty purple colour. Violet flowers, purple tea and butterfly pea flowers all contain an antioxidant called anthocyanins. This compound is response for the purple or blue pigments in plants including blueberries and purple grapes.
How to Forage for Wild Violets
Foraging for wild violets is easy to do and they grow in abundance almost anywhere in gardens, foot paths, woodlands and in meadows. Violets are mainly purple in colour but some are more of a blue colour and others can be yellow or white. Violets do have many plants that look similar including the poisonous Ficaria verna. This plant resembles violets as the leaves are almost identical, however, the petals are usually yellow and have smoother edges. Violets always have five petals whereas Ficaria verna have more.
When foraging for violets, ensure that you are positive about the identification before picking the flowers and that they are organic without harmful pesticides. The roots (rhizomes and stolons) of the violet plant are inedible and can cause severe vomiting. There are lots of apps available to use when identifying herbs and flowers.
Once you have gathered your flowers and/or leaves, gently wash away ants, other bugs and any dirt or pollen ready for making your tea. If you have harvested lots of violets, you can dehydrate the leaves and flowers to use at a later date. Use 4-5 fresh blossoms to one teaspoon of dried herb.
What are the Health Benefits?
Violets have been used for thousands of years for medicinal purposes and well known for having calming and anti stress effects on the mind and body. It can help you feel more relaxed and happy. Some of the other health benefits include:
Coughs and colds: Violet flowers and leaves are commonly used in tinctures, tea and in syrups to help treat coughs including more severe bronchitis and even pertussis (whooping cough). Records show that early European medicinal recipes included the use of viola blossoms and leaves for cough medicine. The plant contains expectorant properties that can help with a chesty cough. The high levels of vitamin c help with inflammation for easier breathing. This study suggests that violet syrup may act as a cough suppressant in children with asthma. An infusion made from both the leaves and the flowers can be used as a mouthwash and gargle for scratchy sore throats. It also contains diaphoretic properties which can help the body to sweat more which in turn can help with breaking a fever.
Pain relief: Violets contain compounds known as rutin and salicylic acid which have therapeutic qualities that can aid in relieving pain and inflammation. It’s these compounds that can help with pain and inflammation of the joints caused by conditions such as fibromyalgia and arthritis.
Heart health: Violets are believed to help with blood circulation and vascular health due to the compound anthocyanin. This is the antioxidant responsible for the beautiful blue to purple colour of the flower. This study shows that the anthocyanins found in plants significantly improve vascular health. The leaves of the viola plant are also high in soluble fiber which can help to reduce cholesterol. Soluble fiber is also great for gut health.
Skin health: Violets have been used since the ancient Greek era to help treat skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis by using topically in salves and by taking the tea made from an infusion. Violets are naturally cooling, soothing and contain anti-fungal qualities therefore work great to use in healing creams and ointments and also as a burn salve and wound healer. Studies are lacking in showing the effectiveness of viola flowers for eczema and dermatitis, however many people swear by this homeopathic remedy for the prevention and treatment of skin irritations.
Laxative effects: Violets are known to help with digestion and have mild laxative effects which could be a benefits for some and a risk for others. This study shows that violet capsules maybe beneficial to chronically constipated menopausal women. Syrup of violets is commonly used for the elderly and for children to aid in the relief of constipation and can also be effective for healing hemorrhoids.
What are the Side Effects?
Like all herbs and herbal remedies, violets and violet tea can have some side effects. Violets are used as a delicate herbal remedy but some individuals can have allergies to these flowers, to the pollen, or to saponins present in the plant. Violets aren’t generally high in pollen and so are less likely to trigger a response in allergy suffers but it can still happen. Saponins are bitter compounds naturally found in many different foods such as quinoa, legumes, certain herbs and in the violet plant. The roots contain higher doses than the blossoms and leaves. Some people are sensitive to saponins which can cause inflammation of the intestinal lining, itchy skin and rashes.
Violet flowers are known to be a mild laxative, especially the yellow varieties. The laxative effects could be a benefit for some but a risk for others with sensitive digestion. Toxicity can occur from the roots of the plant in particular.
Individuals on certain medications should avoid this plant. Whilst it is considered safe and many people take tea made from violets or other remedies on a daily basis, it is always best to discuss concerns and seek advice from your healthcare provider.
Uses for Violets
Violet flowers and leaves have been used in many different ways for thousands of years. Here are some of my favourite ways to use these pretty purple flowers:
Make tea: My number one way to use these flowers is to make a soothing calming cup of tea!* Infuse the fresh or dried herb in freshly boiled water and allow to steep for 5-10 minutes, add a drizzle of honey and enjoy. *Herbal teas will only last up to 2 days stored in the fridge and therefore it is always best to freshly make the tea when needed.
Iced tea: Make a large glass of iced tea with the fresh or dried flowers. Strongly brew your tisane, add your sweetener of choice and pour over a large glass of ice. Add mint sprigs, slices of lemons, limes and/or berries.
Ice cubes: Strongly brew your floral tisane and pour into ice cube moulds for use in iced tea at later time. You can also add the beautiful whole flowers into your ice cubes with or without the steeped tea. You can also use frozen violet tea to cool itchy skin or irritating insect bites.
Candied flowers: Make candied violet flowers for use on cakes and to decorate other desserts using egg whites and icing sugar. Here is an easy candied flower recipe.
Violet lemonade: Make traditional homemade lemonade with added steeped violets, or alternatively cold brew your flowers in sparkling water with added honey and freshly squeezed lemons for an easy sparkling iced tea recipe.
Hot toddy: Make a soothing violet hot toddy buy brewing your flowers in freshly boiled water, add honey, slices of lemon and your favourite tipple. If you love hot tea recipes try this chamomile hot toddy or steep violets with marshmallow root, licorice, honey and lemon. All of these ingredients are believed to aid in the relief of sore throats, coughs and colds. This recipe for throat coat hot toddy is also great for dry throats.
Bath soak: Add freshly brewed violet tea to your bath to make a healing therapeutic bath soak.
Cough syrup: Making cough syrup with fresh flowers is fairly straight forward by infusing your flowers in water for 24 hours before heating with white sugar to make a simple syrup. Cool it and strain it before using it. Here is a great soothing recipe for violet cough candy/cough drops.
Mouthrinse: Use as a natural mouth rinse or use as a gargle for sore throats.
Salads: Top salads with the pretty edible flowers.
Top cakes: Top cakes and desserts with the pretty purple flowers.
Sunburn treatment: Mix violet flowers with aloe vera gel in a blender or food processor to cool sunburns. If you love aloe vera recipes, you may love this matcha and aloe face mask.
Jams and jellies: Make wild violet jam or jelly using violets, sugar and pectin to make sweet jam perfect for afternoon tea time.
Vinegar: Infuse violet blossoms in white wine vinegar. Use as you would vinegar in recipes or use to soothe insect bites and skin irritations including helping to rid of dandruff.
Salves, oils and ointments: Make infused creams, salves, oil or ointment for hydration and to soothe dry skin.
Honey: Infuse the flavours of violets into wildflower honey just like this lavender infused honey recipe.
What Does Violet Flower Tea Taste Like?
Violets have a refreshingly mild and lightly floral taste. Wild varieties such as the common blue violet (viola sororia) are stronger and can have a perfume or soap-like aftertaste. Other garden species usually have less of a soapy taste. For a more interesting flavour add honey and lemon. Tea can be made from the blossoms, the leaves or from both. The leaves have a more grassy and astringent taste. As well as adding lemon and honey, you can also add other herbs and spices such as mint, chamomile or true tea. Try using a teaspoon of light green tea with half a teaspoon of dried violet flowers for a delicate floral green tea recipe. Alternatively, add a few floral violets when brewing fresh Moroccan mint tea.
What is Violet Tea?
Violet flower tea is a wonderful tea that has been enjoyed for centuries. It's made from the flowers of the violet genus, and it has a sweet taste that is perfect for enjoying after a meal or as a calming drink before bed. It’s naturally caffeine free just like chamomile tea and shares similar relaxing qualities. You can enjoy it hot or cold, depending on how you like it. Most people like to drink a cup of this tea every day because it is so delicious and has many health benefits too.
How to Make Violet Tea
So how can you drink it? There are a few different methods that you can use to get a delicious glass of tea from this wonderful plant. Here are the most common methods.
How to brew your own violet flower tea: This is a fairly simple method, especially if you have a teapot and some loose tea leaves or even fresh flowers. All you have to do is put a few teaspoons of dried blossoms into your teapot and pour hot water over the leaves. Use 1-2 teaspoons of dried herb OR 5-10 fresh flowers to one cup of water per person. Let the water sit for a 5-10 minutes and then remove the leaves with a fine mesh strainer. This method is ideal for preparing a single serving of tea, but you can make several servings this way and store them in the refrigerator for later consumption. However, herbal tea will spoil quickly so use within 2 days.
How to make a homemade violet flower tea bag: Making your own homemade tea bags is a great way to enjoy this wonderful beverage without having to fiddle with loose leaves, infusers and strainers. You can get a recipe online or find a website that offers instructions for making your own tea bags out of organic dried flowers from the violet genus and organic cotton or muslin cloth. You can also buy reusable and fillable tea filters online or in specialist tea shops. To make your tea bags, all you have to do is add the loose leaves to the bags and tie them off with string. Place the bags into a mug and pour boiling water over them; let the mixture steep for several minutes before drinking. This is a quick and easy way to brew a cup of tea, but you can use the same technique to make a large batch of tea and store it in the refrigerator to enjoy at a later time. Again, I would recommend using within 2 days.
How to make an iced violet flower tea: If you like cold drinks in the summer, making iced tea is the perfect way to enjoy this beverage on a hot summer’s day. You can make strongly brewed hot tea as usual and then add ice to it to cool it down. Add a sweetener of choice such as honey or agave. You can also make a larger batch and store in the fridge for later consumption. This way you can enjoy a refreshing drink at any time of the day!
Where you can find fresh or dried violet flowers for brewing tea: Finding fresh violet flowers at your local market can be tricky sometimes. They tend to be available in the spring and early summer, which makes them the perfect accompaniment to a hot cup of tea on a warm spring day. If you live in an area where violets are in season, you may want to keep some dried violet flowers on hand to use in brewing your tea all year long. Many florists sell small packages of dried violet flowers that you can use in brewing your own tea at home.
Is Violet Tea Safe to Enjoy Everyday?
Whilst violet tea is considered safe and many people take this herbal tea daily, it is always best to enjoy it in moderation. Always consult your healthcare provider with any queries or concerns.
Do you like violet tea? Let me know in the comments below!
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This blog is for information purposes only. It is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose any medical conditions. Always seek medical advice from your healthcare provider.
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