Herbal tea basics
When you grow a tea garden, the possibilities are endless. You can experiment with different combinations of herbs to make pure herbal blends, or mix them with your favourite black, green or white tea for added flavour. Before you get started, here are the basics of herbal tea making:
– Always clean your herbs before steeping or drying
– Keep your teapots and cups covered during brewing to hold in the steam and herb oils (that’s where all the goodness is!)
– The best time to harvest herbs is early in the morning after dew has dried, but before the sun is at its peak
– Consult your doctor before drinking new herbal teas. Some teas can be dangerous for pregnant women (including chamomile, bergamot and borage, for example) and some may react with other medications and treatments.
As its name suggests, this herb smells and tastes like licorice. Chopped leaves in salads, stews and sauces, as well as in tea, are believed to aid digestion and calm coughs.
Grow: Not only is anise-hyssop ideal for tea, but it will look nice in your garden, too. Plant it behind other herbs and flowers because it can grow to about 1 metre tall and you’ll want to see its pretty blue buds. It also produces lots of nectar, so it’s likely to attract bees, butterflies and, if you’re lucky, hummingbirds.
Drink: Both the leaves and flowers, dried, can be used in tea. Use about a teaspoon of dried anise-hyssop per cup of boiling water.
When it’s bedtime but your brain isn’t ready to settle down, turn to a hot cup of chamomile. It’s known for its ability to calm nerves and aid with insomnia.
Grow: Chamomile is an annual. It will produce pretty little flowers that look like small daisies, so it’s lovely planted among other flowers. Give it plenty of space to grow.
Drink: Tea is made from dried flowers, either crushed or whole. Steep in hot water for about five minutes (or longer, if you wish), strain and serve with honey or lemon.