Themed herb gardens can be a lot of fun and many of these plants are not only suitable for a tea garden, but are also right at home in a kitchen theme, cosmetic theme or medicinal theme.
Most of us have only ever had tea from dried plants. Think how good it could be if picked fresh from your own backyard! Below are some ideal plants to get to know as they grow and it'll soon become apparent why people develop such a connection with their gardens. There is a certain pride in the nurturing, harvesting, storing and utilizing your own food, and knowing the conditions and quality of the plants makes it all the more satisfying.
Much of chamomile's medicinal effects are targeted toward the digestive tract and the nervous system.
|Apple or Woolly Mint|
|Spearmint and Peppermint|
Peppermint in particular has a powerful, menthol aroma that refreshes, energizes and improves mental clarity just by inhaling the steam from a cup of hot tea. So many ailments can be eased with this one type of plant. Nausea can be relieved, cramping belly aches can be settles, pounding headaches can fade away, congestion can open up, aching feet can perk up, heat flashes can be cooled, and sore muscles can relax.
Lemon Balm is wonderful for relaxing children or anyone under stress. Called the "happy tea", lemon balm is invaluable for not only snapping a child out of a cranky mood, but can help anyone feeling down in the dumps. With it's hint of lemon, add some honey and you have a delicious tea most people really enjoy. With anti-viral properties, lemon balm is great for colds and fever blisters (cold sores). Also called Sweet Melissa, if you let it flower as in the photo below, you'll be making a lot of bees very happy. This type of mint spreads as any other mint but it is easier to control since it grows in clumps. One thing with lemon balm is that if you do dry it, don't crumble the leaves until ready to use or you'll lose a lot of the lemony scent.
Harvest late morning after they've dried off but before the heat of the day.
Most fresh herbs are highest in potentcy right before they bloom. But using the flowering tops is fine as well.
To dry, you can bundle small bunches by the stems and hang to dry in an airy, cool area out of direct sunlight. When dry, strip off the leaves and store in paper bags.
Don't crumble the leaves until you are ready to use them or you'll lose much of the essential oils.
Or you can spread your herbs out on the trays of a kitchen dehydrator for much quicker drying.
Before the arrival of frost, harvest all the herbs you desire and dry for storage. Herbs like basil are best if the leaves are frozen in ice cubes. Basil doesn't dry well without losing potency.
When ready to use the usual rule is 1 teaspoon dry herb to 1 cup of hot water.
If using fresh, use 3 teaspoons herb to 1 cup hot water.
You don't want to boil tender teas. You pour the hot water over them and let simmer. On average, teas only need about 3 - 5 minutes to simmer. then sweeten with honey and add a wedge of lemon if desired.
A very simple, yet delicious way to enjoy mint is to simply add a few fresh stems to a pitcher of water. The water will have a subtle, refreshing minty taste. Start with fresh plant material with each refill of the pitcher. If the water hasn't been drunk within about 3 days, toss and start again because it'll start to taste funky.