Soothing Teas from the Garden (Recipes Included)

Brew a Cup of Comfort

According to National Geographic's Edible: An Illustrated Guide to the World's Food Plants, chamomile is the most popular herbal tea on earth.
According to National Geographic's Edible: An Illustrated Guide to the World's Food Plants, chamomile is the most popular herbal tea on earth.

After a long day of spring gardening, or on a breezy night beneath a spangly sky in June; on autumn morning strolls so chilly you can see your breath, or before a dancing fire in winter--any time of year is a good time to relax with a warm cup of herbal tea. And if you grow your own plants, every sip can be as comforting and satisfying as a well-worn sweater.

Chamomile, lemon bergamot (bee balm), wild bergamot, and lemon verbena are easy-to-grow additions to your herb garden or flower bed that attract gardeners (and pollinators) with their scented leaves and cheery flowers.

But perhaps the most satisfying thing about these fragrant plants is that they are so deliciously drinkable. Using their flowers and/or leaves, gardeners can brew fragrant, tasty teas that are naturally caffeine free.

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Tea or Tisane?

Sometimes, you'll see herbal teas referred to as tisanes, particularly if they're used for medicinal purposes. While teas are made from fermented leaves, a tisane is brewed with dried or fresh stems and leaves. So really, tisanes are herbal teas, and vice versa.

Below, you'll find brief descriptions and planting recommendations for four deliciously drinkable plants, as well as instructions for brewing herbal teas. Before making any tea from plants in your garden, be sure to rinse the leaves and/or flowers well in cold running water.

Cheers!

German chamomile is the preferred plant of tea lovers.
German chamomile is the preferred plant of tea lovers.

Chamomile

Both the annual and the perennial varieties of chamomile have apple-scented leaves and small, daisy-like flowers with yellow centers and white petals.

If growing chamomile for tea-making purposes, raise the German or Roman annual varieties. Most tea drinkers prefer German chamomile's sweeter flavor.

Begin seedlings indoors or sow directly in a sunny spot. Because it's an herb, chamomile likes full sun and well-drained soil.

After broadcasting the seeds, press them lightly into the ground and keep them moist. Continue watering until the seedlings reach 4 to 6 inches high.

German chamomile grows up to 3 feet tall, while Roman chamomile only reaches heights of 4 to 12 inches. Like thyme, the Roman variety makes a charming groundcover. It overwinters outside in all zones except 1 and 2. The German variety dies out in winter but self-sows readily.

Soothing Chamomile Tea

To make chamomile tea, use 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh chamomile flowers per cup of boiling water. Steep for 3 to 5 minutes, strain, and enjoy. For stronger tea, use more blossoms.

Variations: Add honey, lemon, or even lime to taste.

Chamomile-Apple Tea (2 servings)

When cinnamon is added, this fragrant concoction smells like warm apple pie! Delicious.

2 Cups water

2 apple slices, thin

2 Tbsp. chopped fresh chamomile flowers

honey (optional)

ground cinnamon (optional)

cinnamon stick (optional)

Bring 2 cups of water to boil. Meanwhile, rinse out the teapot with hot water and add the apple slices. Using a wooden spoon, mash the apple slices into small pieces. Add the flowers and then pour in the boiling water. Allow to steep for 3 to 5 minutes before straining. Add honey and a sprinkling of cinnamon. Or, place a stick of cinnamon in your cup.

Lemon bergamot (bee balm) doesn't look at all like a lemon, but it sure tastes and smells like one.
Lemon bergamot (bee balm) doesn't look at all like a lemon, but it sure tastes and smells like one.
Bergamot Marmalade Caffè Sicilia - Sicily, Italy - 8.8 oz
Bergamot Marmalade Caffè Sicilia - Sicily, Italy - 8.8 oz

Enjoy a cup of bergamot tea & a scone slathered in butter & heaping helpings of this luscious marmalade.

 

Lemon Bergamot

Lemon bergamot (Monarda citriodora) is a showy plant that reaches heights of three feet. Its bright purple, blue, or pink flowers bloom from June through August. They're well loved by bees, which is probably why all varieties of bergamot are more commonly known as bee balm.

Lemon bergamot will grow in zones 3-10, so it's quite hardy. In warm climates, it often grows in large masses. At the first frost, it will die back. Sometimes lemon bergamot reseeds itself, but if you want to ensure that it grows in your garden, seed it yourself in soil that's rich in organic matter.

Lemon bergamot prefers full sun but will tolerate partial shade. Because it's prone to powdery mildew, position it so that it receives morning sun. During the hottest days of summer, water it well.

Lemon Bergamot Tea (for 2)

Pick 10 to 12 large, fresh bergamot leaves, preferably before the plant blooms. Rinse them in cold water and place them in a teapot that you've rinsed in hot water to warm it.

Pour 2 cups of boiling water into the pot, steep for 3 to 5 minutes, and then strain. Steeping longer will result in bitter tea.

Lemon bergamot has a peppery, lemony flavor that tastes particularly good when sweetened with honey.


 

Wild bergamot is also known as bee balm and horse-mint.
Wild bergamot is also known as bee balm and horse-mint.
Bergamot Candies from Nancy Bergamotes de Nancy in Tin
Bergamot Candies from Nancy Bergamotes de Nancy in Tin

If you like the peppery taste of Earl Grey, which is flavored with bergamot, you'll love these hard candies from Nancy. They're sweet, but not too sweet.

 

Wild Bergamot

Like its sister plant, wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) is loved by bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies. Its flowers are purple, its leaves aromatic. Native Americans used wild bergamot to treat indigestion, colds, and headaches. It grows about a foot taller than lemon bergamot.

In zones 3-7, wild bergamot is a perennial, reseeding itself and germinating when the ground warms. It's considered a prairie as well as a savannah flower, tolerating both dry and wet conditions, although it won't tolerate wet feet for too long. In mild climates, wild bergamot can be started in spring from cuttings. It blooms in June and July.

Monarda didyma is another fragrant and delicious variety of bergamot that smells of oranges. Its flowers can be purplish-red or deep pink.

Beddy-bye Bergamot Tea (for 2)

This bedtime treat is particularly soothing when you're suffering from a cold or allergy.

2 Cups water

2 Tbsp. bergamot flowers & leaves, washed & chopped

2 Tsp. decaffeinated green tea or 2 decaffeinated green tea bags

Stevia (optional)

Bring water to boil. In the meantime, rinse the teapot out with hot water.

Add fresh bergamot and green tea to the pot. Pour in boiling water and let steep 10 minutes.

Drink plain or sweeten with stevia to taste.

Lemon verbena is a perennial herb. Its taste and fragrance improve as it ages.
Lemon verbena is a perennial herb. Its taste and fragrance improve as it ages.

Lemon Verbena

Lemon verbena (Lippia citriodora ) is a perennial shrub that makes a good border plant. It grows well in zones 8-11. Its flowers bloom in clusters, and are mauve or white.

In areas that experience harsh winters, grow it in a pot that can be transferred inside. Because it's deciduous, its leaves will drop, but don't worry. They'll come back in spring to delight you with their clean citrus scent.

To make lemon verbena tisane, use the leaves of the plant, not the blossoms. In fact, if you pick them before your verbena blooms, the tea will be even more flavorful.

Lemon Verbena Tea, Straight Up

Place approximately 10 fresh lemon verbena leaves (or an ounce of dried leaves) in a ceramic teapot. Pour in 2 cups (1 pint) of boiling water and steep. The tea will be yellow. Share it with a friend, or drink it all yourself. Its scent and flavor are incredibly refreshing.

With a Twist

Add dried lemon peel to the leaves. Honey is also a tasty addition.

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Comments 45 comments

The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 4 years ago from United States Author

Hi, mollymeadows! Thanks for commenting. Of course, you'll want to check the seed packet directions first, but it's probably not too late where you live to direct sow your chamomile seeds now. Enjoy your tea! The Dirt Farmer.


mollymeadows profile image

mollymeadows 4 years ago from The Shire

I loved this, Dirt Farmer! I may start growing chamomile in my garden, since I drink the tea so much. Thanks for the useful information.


The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 4 years ago from United States Author

Thanks for commenting, barbie mannas. Look forward to reading your article! Take care, DF


barbie mannas profile image

barbie mannas 4 years ago from Sanibel Island, USA.

I cannot imagine how time has flown and here am I looking back! Much has been discovered during these past months on health foods, one in particular which I shall be writing about. Trust you are still writing articles that will benefit us all. Cheers!


The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 5 years ago from United States Author

Thanks, Dave! I'm a fan of yours too.


davenmidtown profile image

davenmidtown 5 years ago from Sacramento, California

What an absolutely beautiful hub! It is full of useful information and wonderful how-to advice. I am your newest fan!


The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 5 years ago from United States Author

Great, Corin! Good luck with your verbena!


Corin profile image

Corin 5 years ago

I love using herbal teas, especially the fresh ones. I succeed to grow herbs like peppermint, rosemary... but I never succeeded to grow lemon verbena (I "killed" at least 3 lemon verbena plants). I'll try to grow it again by following your advice. Really useful hub and your tea recipes are awesome: I can't wait to taste your chamomile apple tea.


chefsref profile image

chefsref 5 years ago from Citra Florida

Hey Dirt Farmer

Every time I read one of your hubs I want to go plant something new. There is incredible satisfaction in eating something you grew yourself

Voted up

Lee


The Dirt Farmer 5 years ago

Thanks, KoffeeKlatch Gals! So glad you stopped by.


KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

KoffeeKlatch Gals 5 years ago from Sunny Florida

The Dirt Farmer, you have written a wonderful, well-written, informative piece. The recipes add that special touch. Rated up and useful.


The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 5 years ago from United States Author

Great, Marellen. You know, although it's not very popular any more, people used to brew up catnip/catmint. It's very full-flavored. The trick is to grow enough for both yourself and your cat. The last time I grew some, a small hairy friend of mine chewed it to the ground. Ta!


marellen 5 years ago

Thanks for the great hub...I love tea and can't wait to start brewing.


barbie mannas 5 years ago

Thanks Dirt Farmer, rearing to go. Will try Google for sure.


The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 5 years ago from United States Author

Hi Barbie. If you don't take pictures yourself, go to the many sites out there, like Bing, that offer free images. Just google "free images" or "free photos." You'll be amazed at what you'll find. Looking forward to your lemongrass hub!


barbie mannas 5 years ago

How did you get such beautiful pics to accompany your article? Because I would like to share my experience with lemongrass tea and also lemongrass oil which did me a world of good. Thanks for your message Dirt Farmer, much appreciated.


The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 5 years ago from United States Author

You're welcome, Barbie. So glad you liked the hub. I'm glad to see there are so many herbal tea lovers and herb growers out there!


barbie mannas profile image

barbie mannas 5 years ago from Sanibel Island, USA.

Thanks for your useful article on herbal teas which I love, particularly lemon grass tea. Will certainly try and get the teas you have recommended, especially lemon verbena.


The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 5 years ago from United States Author

Great, BrightMeadow! Hope you like 'em. --DF


BrightMeadow profile image

BrightMeadow 5 years ago from a room of one's own

Dirt Farmer,

I'm so glad you added recipes with this hub. I've been on the look out for how to use herbs. Now I'm going to have to give some of these a try.


The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 5 years ago from United States Author

Welcome to HubPages, Sunnysmiles! You ought to write a hub about your favorite herbs!


Sunnysmiles profile image

Sunnysmiles 5 years ago

I make my own teas from my herbs I grow in my garden


The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 5 years ago from United States Author

You're welcome, RTalloni. Happy St. Patrick's Day!


RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

Love these recipes. Thanks.


 5 years ago

Love these recipes. Thanks.


The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 5 years ago from United States Author

Thanks, Tina. It's good to hear from you. I've been enjoying your cooking hubs. Your mom sounds like my grandmother--a good cook who didn't write down recipes. Unlike you, I haven't tried to recreate them, but I should. Thanks again for stopping by! --DF


Tina Julich profile image

Tina Julich 5 years ago from Pink

Great hub. I love tea and herbal tea, too. I had problems with chamomile tea keeping me awake all night, so I don't drink it too often. :-)

I've also had problems with my herbs reseeding, they never do! I'm jealous of those who always have herbs because they reseed in their garden.

Thanks for the info. I know I'm going to try a couple of the herbs you suggested.


The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 5 years ago from United States Author

Hi cangetthere. Thanks! And you're so right. It's nice to be able to know that nothing "extra" has been added to your drink. Take care, DF


cangetthere profile image

cangetthere 5 years ago from New Zealand

Hello, I love your hub.Well presented and interesting.I never would of thought of adding the apple like that.The thing I also like about making your own herbal Tea is that you know exactly what has gone into it and it is always alot stronger and more refreshing.


The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 5 years ago from United States Author

Susan G! Thanks so much. I really tried, not only to make it look right, but to meet HP's new policies. Thanks again! DF


The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 5 years ago from United States Author

Thanks, jseven! I'm really happy that you liked it.


Susan G 5 years ago

I love this hub...I am a grower of herbs and blend my teas so I certainly could relate to this articles. Loved the images, products...the flow of color and the design is perfect.


jseven profile image

jseven 5 years ago from Michigan

Great idea for a hub! I am an herbal tea drinker and enjoyed this a lot. :)


The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 5 years ago from United States Author

Thanks! I'll check it out. I'm always up for a good story. Take care, DF


quester.ltd profile image

quester.ltd 5 years ago

Once more - you come up with great ideas - I am a tea drinker from way back - great hub!

thought you might like to know there is another Shadow story

have a great day!


The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 5 years ago from United States Author

You're welcome, AliciaC. Thanks for reading!


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

I love herbal teas. I'm sure that fresh leaves and flowers from my garden would produce a much better tea than dried plants bought in a store. Thank you for the growing instructions and the recipes.


The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 5 years ago from United States Author

Thanks for your comment, oceansunsets, and I agree--growing your own stuff does make "natural sense." What a perfect way to put it!


The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 5 years ago from United States Author

You shouldn't have any trouble growing bergamot, Gigi, particularly Monarda fistulosa. In fact, it's one of those plants that, once you plant it, pops up all over the place. Thanks for stopping by! Take care, DF


oceansnsunsets profile image

oceansnsunsets 5 years ago from The Midwest, USA

This hub is my cup of tea! I love herbs, growing them, learning more about them, etc! I try to drink herb tea just about every single day if not more than once. It makes natural sense that I would try to grow my own tea, and have grown some of these herbs before. Thank you very much for sharing this information!


The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 5 years ago from United States Author

Back at you, Harlan! Thanks.


Gigi Thibodeau 5 years ago

I'm bookmarking this one for sure! Love tea and love these particular varieties especially. I've never grown bergamot, but you make me want to try. Thanks!


Harlan Colt profile image

Harlan Colt 5 years ago from the Rocky Mountains

Dirt Farmer!

Man the more I read the more I love you!

Ha ha... thanks for a great hub. If I could click up 5 times I would!

GAH I CANT SEE THE BOOKMARK THINGIE!!!! AUGH!

- Harlan


The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 5 years ago from United States Author

Thanks, tnderhrt23! I'm so glad you stopped by.


tnderhrt23 profile image

tnderhrt23 5 years ago

Very well-written, informative hub! I believe it is "tea time"!

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