Grow Your Own Tea

The cooling weather has renewed my daily tea habit. I love the feel of a hot mug of tea between my hands – even when working it makes me feel like I’m relaxing. The cool weather also has me thinking about ways to preserve my fresh garden produce, from freezing fruits to canning jellies and tomatoes to drying fresh herbs.
 

cup o' tea

Thoughts of tea drinking + drying herbs =  a blog post about making your own tea. Believe it or not, your garden can be a great source of tea. Teas can be made from both fresh-cut or dried leaves, flowers, or roots of herbs and some flowers and plants.

Common plants for tea

Some common plants and their parts that can be used for tea include:

Fresh or dried leaves of

  • Parsley
  • Mint (all kinds)
  • Lemon balm or lemon verbena
  • Sage
  • Catnip
  • Celery
  • Strawberry
  • Raspberry
  • Thyme
  • Lavender
  • Rosemary
  • Yarrow

Fresh or dried blossoms of

  • Chamomile
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Elderberry

Dried root of

  • Echinacea

How-to

You can make tea from fresh or dried ingredients. If using fresh ingredients, use 1 tablespoon of fresh herbs for every cup of water. If using dried ingredients, use 1 teaspoon for every cup of water. Then simply put the herbs in a tea ball or empty tea bag, pour hot water over them, cover the mug or cup, and allow to steep. (You’ll probably have to experiment with steeping times, but usually  three – ten minutes is sufficient.)

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Drying and storing tea

You can dry tea by bunching your herbs, tying their stems, and hanging them upside down in a well-ventilated space; placing a layer of herbs between two paper towels (in a well-ventilated area); placing the leaves and flowers on a screen (and placed in a well-ventilated area); or using a microwave or oven for quicker drying.

If you washed your herbs, make sure they are dry before putting them up to dry so they don’t get moldy (hence the need for good ventilation).

Once dried, usually after one to two weeks, remove the dried leaves, flowers, roots, or seeds and place them in an air-tight container. They will usually store for up to a year, but once they lose flavor throw them in the compost or trash.

If you are experimenting with different dried tea blends (such as lemon balm and mint, perhaps) or are adding extra ingredients (for example, dried lemon or orange peel), it is best to store the mixture in an air-tight container for at least 10 days or so to allow the flavors to mix.

[Of course, be careful when making and drinking herbal teas. Teas should only be made from parts of edible plants and some people might have adverse reactions to certain herbs.]

For some tea recipe ideas, check out these articles:

Dried tea can make a great holiday gift for friends and family and keep you warm all through winter! Let us know what sorts of tea you have made in the comments below.

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