Tag Archive | Tea

Learn about Herbs: Homegrown Herb Tea

Long day, sore feet, tired of noise: a nice cup of herbal tea is just what the doctor (should) order. Herbal teas, also called tisanes, differ from “real” tea (Camellia sinensis) in that they rarely contain caffeine. Made from herbs, spices, and other plant material, tisanes are soothing and, in some instances, medicinal.

Good herbs for tea that should grow well in your garden include chamomile (leaves and flowers), fennel (leaves and seeds), hyssop (leaves and flowers). For just their leaves, you can grow bergamot, aka bee balm (Monarda didyma), betony (Stachys officinalis), lemon balm, applemint, peppermint, spearmint, and sage. All are hardy to at least zone 5. [Note: watch the spread of any of those plants in the mint family.]

Lemon verbena and scented-leaf geraniums should also thrive to zone 5 in the summer, though they are not frost hardy. And don’t forget rose hips, raspberry and blackberry leaves, and the flowers or elderberries and linden trees (Tilia spp.). Though not usually grown in vegetable gardens, they too are valuable additions to the homegrown tea lover’s pantry.

Remember to dry all of your ingredients well, then store them (as whole as possible) in a dark, cool place until you’re ready to use them, preferably in glass jars.

I’m partial to this post which combines flavor ideas as well as focusing on the healthy aspects of herbal tea: https://www.thewellessentials.com/blog/how-to-make-your-own-homemade-herbal-tea-blends

Planning for next year

When growing season is done and the garden has been put to bed, it’s time to start planning for next year! I love tea and drink it the way many other people drink coffee. I have an area in my flower garden devoted to herbs, and I’m thinking about adding something new: ┬átea.

downloadTrue tea (white, black and green) comes from one plant species: Camellia sinensis, hardy in Zones 6 to 9. This plant isn’t finicky (slightly acidic soil, a sunny location and plenty of water will keep it happy), but it grows slowly from seed. It can take three years to get a harvest and cuttings are challenging, so purchasing a plant seems like the right approach. Like me, you may already have herbs in your garden, such as mint and lemongrass, that you can use for tisanes, or herbal teas.

When using herbs for tea, it’s important to research which part of the plant is used for making tea, such as the leaves of the mint plant, the buds and flowers of chamomile or the outer stalks of lemongrass. Freshly picked herbs can be brewed right away. You can also dry herbs to keep the cupboard stocked.

Herbal tea

imagesThis hot beverage is not actually tea (not being made from the Camellia sinensis plant, but from herbs), but is called tea and is wildly popular. Some of the possible plants to use:

  • Bee balm
  • Bergamot
  • Lavender
  • Lemon Verbena
  • Raspberry
  • Rose Hip
  • Sage
  • Strawberry
  • Yarrow

Gently tear or crush herbal leaves, buds or roots to release essential oils and boost flavor, and you might consider a tea infuser or ball instead of a strainer for a simpler brewing process to avoid having a cup full of leaves.