Let doctors or quacks prescribe as they may, Yet none of their nostrums for me; For I firmly believe—what the old women say— That there’s nothing like camomile tea. ~ David Paul Brown
Growing, drying and preparing your own tea blends with herbs and fruits grown from your very own garden is one of the most rewarding experiences in life. Tea calms, it relaxes, it heals and it refreshes. Whether you take it hot in a cup or cold in a glass, preparing it to suit your fancy is what it is all about.
Easy To Grow Herbs For Making Tea
Now days there are so many wonderful choices of herbs that can easily be grown in containers and pots. Place them on a sunny window sill or all about your porch. Many fun herbs can be grown throughout your landscape adding beauty and charm among your flower beds.
Mints come in may flavors, from Orange to Chocolate and Berries and Cream. The Sweet Basil may range from Cinnamon, Lemon and Lime and even Lavender. There is the Lemongrass, Lemon Verbena and Lemon Balm to entice your taste buds. Of course you will enjoy the Chamomile or Catnip and Caraway Seed.
I love my Bergamot and Borage and let them reseed freely throughout the gardens. Try Thyme in Lemon or Lime and Rosemary. The Sage can range from Peaches and Cream to Pineapple. Of course my very favorite for the southern garden is the rich and red fruit of the Roselle Hibiscus. You may even enjoy growing your own sweetener like Stevia to blend into your teas.
Easy Ways To Harvest And Dry Herbs
Herbs should be harvested in the mornings after the dew is gone. This is the best time because the essential oils are at their peek. Many herbs are more potent right before they go into flower, but I so enjoy the beauty of the blooms and find they retain the purest essence of flavor.
Drying your herbs is a matter of weather conditions. If it is dry and a nice gentle breeze outdoors they may be placed on a screen or hung on a post to dry. You may bring them indoors to hang and dry as well. I like placing mine in paper bags in a dry room with the fan blowing gently.
Many herbs may be dried in the oven on the very lowest setting, but must be watched carefully as to not over cook them. This is not my favorite thing because I think a lot of the natural oils can be lost this way. You may also dry them in a dehydrator as well, but again, I believe you retain more flavors and oils when let to dry naturally.
Easy Ways To Brew Herbal Tea
Once your herbs have dried have fun experimenting with some different combinations. Using a Tea Ball is great because they can be rinsed and reused for many years. For some they are a collectors item as tea lovers around the world value Tea Balls that have been handed down through generations. They work wonderfully for steeping that perfect brew in your tea cup.
When using dried herbs, one teaspoon is usually just right for one personal size cup or mug. If using fresh herbs up to a tablespoon may be needed.
For brewing a two quart pitcher of iced tea I always prefer using a tea filter bags. These can be easily purchased at your local market. They come in short and long lengths and I generally prefer the long ones. It fits three nice heaping tablespoons of dried tea herbs. If you use the small ones you will need to prepare three to four tea bags for steeping in about a quart pot of hot water. Let it steep for at least 20 to 30 minutes before adding it to the pitcher. Then simply fill the pitcher with ice cubes and top it off with cool water.
There are so many pleasant ways of enjoying herbal tea. Try adding some honey or fresh squeezed lemon. For even more fun try drying various citrus peels by grating them and drying as you would your herbs. Many types of fruits may be dried and ground to add directly to your tea blends. Other spices such as cinnamon or ginger can add a touch of warmth when adding them to your blends.
Creating a Simple Syrup to add to your iced teas can really spice them up and easy to make as well. Try using Fresh Organic fruits while they at the peek of season to obtain extra sweetness. I've recently made one using fresh peaches that you may enjoy called Honey Spiced Peach Tea. So, please join me in the kitchen at Thyme Square Gardens for more herbal fun!