By growing your own tea herbs you can have almost endless variations of herbal teas.
Imagine walking into your herb garden on an early summer morning, gathering a few sprigs of spearmint, a leaf or two of pineapple sage, and a sprig of marjoram, and brewing a fragrant tea as a morning wake-up.
What could be more invigorating?
Organically grown herbs, handpicked at the peak of freshness, either fresh or carefully dried and stores will beat any commercial herbal teas, hands down. Every day, you could take a different combination, and by experimenting, find the ones that suit your palate the best.
The benefits of herbal teas go beyond fresh, invigorating taste.
By controlling the growing environment, you can make sure your teas are fresh, pesticide and herbicide free, and processed without additives. They cost next to nothing – just your initial investment in seeds or seedlings. Many of the herbs you grow can be used in a variety of ways, as aromatics, in cooking, as natural remedies, and, of course, for teas.
Herbal teas are mainly made from leaves, but can include flowers, seeds and even the roots of plants. Rose petals, calendula flowers and lavender flowers make great additions to teas. Caraway and rosehips are seeds or fruits that can add zest as well as vitamins and antioxidants to your tea blends. Roots of dandelion and ginger have restorative and healthy qualities.
If you are not sure which herbs make good teas, start with these few:
There are several varieties of this cooling and refreshing plant, each with its distinctive flavor. Try pineapple mint, spearmint, peppermint or lemon mint. Plant these in a contained area since its rapid runners will need to be restrained.
Mint teas contain active ingredients which support the digestive system, decreasing nausea and abdominal pain and cramps. Use the leaves fresh, or hang them to dry and store them in air-tight containers
This pretty daisy-like herb acts to relieve headaches and induce sounder sleep. The flowers and buds should be dried and used to brew a tea. Chamomile grows in almost any soil, and re-seeds, so care is minimal.
Collect the flowers and dry them for future use. Blended with spearmint or lemon balm, it makes a refreshing and relaxing brew.
The Lemon Herbs
Lemon balm, lemon verbena and lemon grass add a citrus tang to your herbal teas. Lemon balm is useful for cooling fevers, and even makes a cooling lemon drink.
Lemon verbena has an even sharper lemon scent and flavor. It is brewed to relieve indigestion and reduce depression.
Lemon grass, smelling and tasting mildly of lemons, makes a mild citrus tea, and is a good base for lemonade. All three can be used in combination with other herbs, fresh or dried.
Not often thought of as an herb, roses are used in 2 ways. The bright red hip or fruit make a tea rich in vitamins C and D, and have a very high antioxidant value. The tea can also be used as a natural preventative for urinary tract infection.
Rose petals can also be used, fresh, as a fragrant tea ingredient, or simmered with honey to make a soothing and delicious syrup.
Herbal teas are made by infusing either fresh or dried herbs in boiling water. Keep them covered to prevent the health-giving qualities escaping with the steam.
Steeping time varies, so either look up a recipe or experiment with your herbs. Sage and rosemary, for example, have a much stronger and more bitter taste than mild lemon balm or anise-hyssop, so will require less steeping.
Whatever you choose, herbal teas will give you both comfort and pleasure.
Ready for the next step? With over 30 years of gardening experience, Nicki Goff has written 3 books all about her main passion… herb gardening. For access, visit her website, Through Nana’s Garden Gate.
Look for many more landscaping and gardening tips, e-books, links and great articles, and subscribe to her bi-weekly updates.
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