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Grow Your Own – Herbal Tea, That Is

Herb gardenHerbal tea is delicious and relaxing, particularly when the herbs are fresh. You may want to considering growing your own. An herbal tea garden is a rewarding project, and making the tea itself is simple. Just pour boiling water over crushed herbs, and let them steep.

There are so many herbs from which to choose, so take a little time reading and possibly visiting a website or a shop that sells the seeds and plants. You don’t have to restrict a cup of tea to one type of herb. Herbal tea blends are popular and tasty. You can also mix herbs with black tea, green or white tea to vary the flavor.

Here are some tips for growing and using herbs:

Harvest early in the day, once the dew has dried. Herbs are particularly lush in the cool morning air.

Fresh herbs generally reach their peak of flavor before they bloom. However, many do have edible flowers that add a lovely flavor to the tea.

In harvesting, be careful not to tear or crush the herbs until you are ready to use them.

At the end of the season, before the first frost, harvest all your tender herbs. These can be dried and stored for winter tea or to use as seasoning in cooking.

Flavor is a matter of personal preference. You may like your tea stronger or weaker than someone else does. Flavor is also influenced by the quality and freshness of the herbs. Have fun experimenting.

The usual mix of herbs to water is about three teaspoons of fresh leaves per cup of water, or one teaspoon of dry leaves to a cup of water.

Wondering what to plant? These five herbs will make a lovely tea garden and provide delicious flavors:

Anise hyssop is also called licorice mint. It adds delicious licorice flavor to tea. This tea was a traditional beverage of the Native Americans of the northern plains. The tall spikes of purple-blue flowers can grow to heights of 3 or 4 feet.  It attracts bees, which helps pollinate your garden (and supports the shrinking bee population). This is a perennial that grows in hardiness zones 4 to 9. You can start it with seed, and it will reseed itself, but it is non-invasive. Plant it in rich soil. You can use both the leaves and the flowers for tea.

Bee balm has lovely flowers in a variety of colors. People love it because it attracts hummingbirds. Bee balm is also called bergamot and Oswego tea. It will grow up to 3 or 4 feet in hardiness zones 4 to 9. Put it in rich, moist, slightly acidic soil, in full sun to partial shade. It likes hot summers. Use the young leaves and flowers for tea, but do leave plenty of flowers for the hummingbirds.

German chamomile has tiny white and yellow daisy-like flowers that add a delicious apple-like flavor to tea. German chamomile grows up to 2 to 3 feet tall, and is a self-seeding annual crop. Grow chamomile from seed in full sun in an area where it will receive plenty of water.  Harvest the flowers for tea after the white petals appear.

Lemon verbena has a fresh lemony scent and flavor. This aromatic woody shrub can reach 12 feet if it is grown in zones 8 to 11. In cold climates, you can replant every year or grow in a container for wintering indoors by a sunny window. Lemon verbena does best in full sun and flourishes in rich, moist, well-drained soil. Harvest the leaves for tea anytime.

Mints make delicious tea. Spearmint and peppermint are popular tea herbs, pineapple mint has a fruity flavor, and orange mint is more subtle in taste. Mint grows aggressively, so you can curb it by planting it in a large pot or a contained area. Harvest the branches frequently and strip off leaves for tea.

 

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Category: Food, Wellness

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