Perhaps the easiest way to use and enjoy herbs is to make herbal tea. Herbal tea (sometimes referred to as "tisane" because the term "tea" used to be reserved for beverages made from a specific plant,Camellia sinensis) can be made from the leaves, flowers, seeds or even the roots of herbs, whether freshly picked or dried and stored for the off-season. Whatever herb you choose, the process is simple: pour boiling water over crushed herb and let steep. OK, maybe brewing a great cup of tea takes a bit more finesse. For that, I'll refer you to some tea brewing essentials from our Guide to Coffee / Tea.
You don't need a designated herbal tea garden, to grow herbs for making tea. Most tea gardens are places to enjoy a cup of tea, not grow one. You can grow and harvest herbs for tea from any of your existing gardens. Fennel grown in the vegetable garden will brew just as flavorful as fennel grown in a pot on the front steps. However if you do decide to create a garden space devoted to tea herbs, be sure to leave space for a small table and chairs, so you have a spot to relax and enjoy your tea
Tips for Growing Herbs for Tea
- Harvest early in the day, after the dew has dried, but while the herbs are still lush in the cool of the morning.
- Most herbs are at their peak just before they bloom.
- Try not to tear or crush the herbs until you are ready to use them. You don't want to waste any of the essential oils.
- Harvest all your herbs at the end of the season, once a frost is forecast. You can dry the herbs whole and store for winter teas or for use as seasonings.
How Much of the Herb Is Needed for Herb Tea?
- Fresh Leaves: 3 teaspoons per cup of water
- Dry Leaves: 1 teaspoon per cup of water
Herbs to Grow for Herbal TeasThis is a matter of personal taste, but the following herbs have been brewed for ages:
Basil (Lemon Basil)
Mint (Peppermint, Orange Mint)
Sage (Pineapple Sage)
Making Herbal Teas
- Don't be afraid to mix and combine herbs. If the scents mingle well, the flavors probably will too.
- Add a squirt or splash of fruit juice to the tea and transform it into an herbal punch.
- Here are some of my favorite herbal tea recipes from, Sean Paajanen, About.com's Guide to Coffee and Tea.
Lavender Verbena Tea
Tropical Herb Tea