If you enjoy the pleasure of a tall glass of iced herbal tea on a hot day, or simply cannot go to sleep without relaxing in front the fire with a calming cup of tea, you already know how expensive good herbal tea can be. Growing your own tea garden simply makes good sense from both a financial and environmental standpoint.
If you are hesitant about your ability to grow and make your own tea, do what I did. Start small with herbs you know you enjoy and expand in the following year. You can’t go wrong with these easy-to-grow herbs.
Mint: Mint, of course, is the mainstay of any herb garden, but becomes especially important in tea gardens. Choose several from the wide selection available. Spearmint or peppermint is a must, but don’t overlook the deliciously fragrant chocolate mint or delicate apple and pineapple mint. Grow mint in a sunny location in average soil.
Lemon Balm: This one is my favorite, as it returns each year in a larger clump and is often the first sight of green in my herb garden. This pungent herb releases the scent of lemons with the slightest breeze and is wonderful for adding to iced tea or simply on its own as an herbed tea. Grow lemon balm in a sunny location with average soil.
Chamomile: This herb is both attractive and functional as it makes a relaxing tea that promotes restful sleep and calms the nerves. Plant Chamomile in a sunny location in average soil. Use dried or fresh flowers for steeping tea.
Harvesting: Harvest young leaves in the morning when the oils in herbs are at their peak. Although you can pick the leaves at any time, flavor is best before the plants begin to bloom — with the exception of chamomile, of course.
Making tea: Aside from chamomile, herbal tea is made from fresh or dried leaves clipped from the plants. Add one tablespoon of fresh herbs — or one teaspoon on dried herbs — to a cup and pour hot (not boiling) water over the leaves. Allow to steep for 5 to 7 minutes to infuse the water with flavor. Strain the leaves from the water and add honey, sugar or lemon to the mixture.
Caution: Never make tea from herbs unless you are sure of their identification and safety. Avoid making tea from plants that have been treated with pesticides.