Herbs You Can Grow for Tea Making
Making that perfect cup of tea
I drink tea... a lot of tea. And, if you are like me, with a tea addiction, you spend a lot of money per year on tea. Whether it is tea bags, loose leaf or even hitting up your local café, that's money you could be using for other things.
If you are looking for a more economical option or are just experimenting in your garden, several herbs can be grown at home that make wonderfully aromatic teas. And best of all, most of the herbs in this article can be grown in pots to save space.
Types of Herbs for Making Tea
- Mint (Spearmint, Peppermint or any of the scented mints i.e. chocolate mint, pineapple mint etc.)-Use the fresh leaves.
- Catmint or Catnip-Use the fresh leaves. The tea creates a good calming effect when drunk and is useful for inducing sleep. (Several varieties of packaged teas labeled as helping you sleep contain Catmint/Catnip)
- Lemon Balm- Use the fresh leaves. A nice bright lemony flavor and scent.
- Borage-Use both the fresh leaves and flowers. This herb has a mild cucumber flavor and the fresh leaves are often used in salads as well. A wonderful old world herb that doesn't get used often enough!
- Chamomile-Use the fresh blossoms. The flowers have an apple-like scent. The tea has a soothing, sedative effect.
- Violets (the wild type, not the African type)-Use the fresh flowers, but drink the tea sparingly because it is known to have a laxative effect in larger doses.
- Roses- Use the petals or the hips. The best variety for producing nice, large hips are Rugosa roses. Rose hips are very high in vitamin C and produce a tangy flavored tea.
- Stevia-Use the leaves of the Stevia plant to add some sweetness to your teas without the calories or spike in blood sugar. A nice diabetic option.
- Lavender-Use the dried flowers. Not only makes a wonderful tea, but can be used in baking and making a lavender infused simple syrup.
- Fennel-while not technically an herb, you can use both the fresh leaves and seeds. Imparts a licorice-like flavor.
- When preparing tea, use 3 teaspoons of fresh herbs for every cup of tea you plan to serve. If using dried herbs, cut down to 2 teaspoons for every cup. Dried herbs tend to be more potent than fresh.
- In a pot, toss in your herbs and bring to a boil. Once it is boiling, cover and turn off the stove. Let steep for 5 to 10 minutes. Strain out the herbs and serve.
Some Great Herb Combos
Here are some suggestions for combining herbs to make a great cup of tea whether you like it hot or iced!
- Borage with lemon balm-a bright, summery cucumber lemon flavor.
- Catmint with chamomile-for a soothing, relaxing cup of tea.
- Mint with lemon balm-another great summer drink.
- Violet and rose-a sophisticated, flowery tea.
- Lavender with lemon balm-lavender and lemon combine into a delectable tea.
My advice: experiment and find the combo you like the best!
A Word of Advice
Don't use any herbs that have been sprayed with chemicals or even sprayed with urine from dogs. Always gather your herbs from your own garden or a trusted place you know is safe.
Catmint in Bloom
How to Dry Herbs for Later
Drying your herbs is very simple. There are three methods which I use in my own garden.
- At the end of the growing season, cut entire stalks of the plant and bundle the bottoms with twine or string. Hang the bunches upside down in a well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight. It usually takes up to two weeks for everything to be completely dry. Remove the dried leaves from the stalks and store in an old spice container or plastic container with a lid.
- Take the leaves off the fresh plants and place flat on a screen or paper towel in a place that will be undisturbed, well-ventilated and away from direct sunlight. When dry, store the same as above.
- Take the fresh leaves and place on a cookie sheet. Preheat your oven to the lowest setting (around 250 degrees). Bake in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, checking often. Once dry, remove and let cool completely before storing.
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© 2014 Lisa Roppolo