Many gardeners grow herbs for the culinary delight that herbs bring to any dish. But, herbs aren’t just for adding a little flavor to a meal. Herbs are also the perfect companion to a cup of tea.
The list of herbs that can be brewed into a tea are endless. There are the commonly used herbs such as chamomile and the not so common tea herbs such as rosemary. Also, brewing several herbs together produces a unique cup of tea.
Planning An Herbal Tea Garden
There are several things to keep in mind when planning an herbal tea garden:
- Select herb plants that grow well in the existing soil, water and weather conditions.
- Grow favorite herb plants that household members enjoy.
- Decide if the herb plants will be planted in the garden, in containers or indoors.
- Do not use pesticides on herb plants or any other plant that is intended for consumption.
Easy To Grow Herbs For Teas
There are a multitude of herbs that can be brewed into a tasty pot of tea. The herbs grown in a tea garden are an individual choice. The following herbs are easy to grow.
Chamomile looks similar to the daisy and has been grown for centuries for its calming effect and favored for its aromatic apple fragrance. It is a low growing plant that reaches about 9 inches in height and flowers from late spring through late summer.
Here are some planting tips for chamomile:
- Plant in light, dry soil in full sun to partial shade.
- Use as a groundcover. The plant is hardy enough to tolerate foot traffic and can be mowed once established.
- Harvest the flowers for drying when the petals begin to turn back on the disk.
When preparing chamomile for tea, brew the chamomile in a covered teapot so that the medicinal qualities of the herb do not escape in the vapor and let the flowers sit in the tea for 10 minutes.
Lemon grass is a staple in Asian cuisine. In addition to being used in teas, lemon grass is also a companion to soups and curries. It is believed that lemon grass will help against coughs and colds.
Here are a few tips for growing lemon grass:
- Purchase a bundle of lemon grass that has the bulbs and roots.
- Trim off the green tops.
- Place in a jar of water and set in a sunny window.
- When the plants have 2 inches of roots, transplant into a container or in the garden.
Rosemary has long been favored for its ability to improve the memory. But, rosemary’s real benefit is that it adds a sweet taste to foods without adding extra sugar and it can be used as a mint substitute.
Rosemary prefers to grow in well-drained soil under full sun and will survive in temperatures as low as 10 degrees. When harvesting, cut 4 inch pieces from the ends of the branches and do not remove more than 20% of the plant at one time.
Sage is believed to bring a long life and research has shown that it can lower blood sugar levels. Sage is especially tasty as a tea when brewed with lemon juice, lemon rind and a bit of sugar or honey. For a different taste, grow one of the flavored sages such as pineapple sage or clary sage.
Here are a few tips to use when drying sage:
- Remove the leaves from the stems.
- Place the leaves on a clean cloth or piece of paper being careful not to layer the leaves.
- Keep the leaves in the shade until dry.
Anise is a sweetly scented herb that resembles licorice. It has been used to relieve a number of digestive ailments and to get rid of hiccups. Anise is an easy to grow annual with white flowers that bloom profusely.
Here are a few tips when using anise:
- Plant near coriander to improve seed formation.
- Harvest the seeds when fully formed and the flower heads have died.
- Crush the anise seeds before adding to hot water.
- Anise can act as a narcotic and should be consumed in moderation.
Scented geraniums come in a variety of aromas including rose, mint, fruit, spice and pungent. The leaves of the scented geranium can be used to flavor teas or to scent sugars. As an extra bonus, the plants can be trained into a Bonsai or pruned into a topiary.
Here are a few combinations for scented geranium tea:
- Brew rose or lemon scented geranium leaves with black tea.
- Combine with lemon verbena, lemon basil or lemon balm.
- Mix with minty herbs, such as peppermint or spearmint.
How To Brew The Perfect Cup Of Tea
There’s nothing more relaxing that sitting back with a cup of freshly brewed tea. To make the perfect pot of hot tea, follow these directions:
- Bring cool, fresh water to a boil.
- Put the herbs in a clean nonmetal teapot. For each cup of tea, use 2 tablespoons of fresh herbs or 1 tablespoon of dried herbs. Also add 2 tablespoons of fresh herbs or 1 tablespoon of dried herbs for the pot.
- Pour the boiling water over the herbs, put the lid on the teapot, and let steep for 5 to 10 minutes.
- When the tea is the desired strength, strain off the herbs.
To make iced tea, follow the instruction above, except use 3 tablespoons of fresh herbs or 2 tablespoons of dried herbs. The extra herbs to keep the melting ice from diluting the tea. You can also fill an ice cube tray with tea, freeze, and use the ice tea cubes to cool your tea without becoming watered down.
Don’t be shy about experimenting with herbal teas. There are a myriad of ways in which different herbs can be brewed together to make an enjoyable pot of tea.