Tea Time

Tea is one of the simple pleasures in life. Whether fixing a cup of tea to enjoy on the patio on a pleasant spring morning or brewing a pot to enjoy in front of the fire with a good book on a cold winter’s day, it is exceptionally pleasurable to know you have grown the very herbs that make your tea.

The history of tea is long and varied. For thousands of years tea infusions have been used for medicinal purposes. Herbal infusions enjoyed as a refreshing tonic and beverage became popular around the same time that Chinese tea was being introduced. The Boston Tea Party in 1773 gave rise to the “Liberty Tea”, a brew made from the combination of several native plants the colonial women found growing in the area after their regular tea supply was thrown intoBostonHarbor!

Most of the herbs used for tea also have medicinal properties and should not be consumed in large quantities. It is a good practice to do a little research before using a particular plant to learn about its properties and what affects it has on the body. There a many good herb books on the market and a wealth of material on the Internet. Do some research before you begin. It is good to be informed about what you are putting into your body.

Many herbs may be used in combination with others. This is a good time to start a journal and record various tea blends you try, your method of infusing and how it turned out. When you hit on one that really stands out you will then have a recipe to go by.

Using Herbs

Herbs may be used fresh from the garden or dried for use at a later time. Dried herbs are much stronger in flavor. When you make tea with them you will not need as much.

Air-drying herbs is an easy process:

  • Harvest herbs first thing in the morning after the dew has dried but before the sun becomes too strong.
  • Cut stems in lengths long enough to tie together
  • Being careful not to crush or damage the leaves, tie the herbs into small bundles
  • Hang the herbs upside down in an area that is out of direct sun and relatively low in humidity.
  • Once the herbs have dried they can be crumbled and stored in an airtight container.

Making Tea

When making tea always use pure water or mineral water. Water with a high lime content (hard water) will not fully release their active principles. Use a china, glass or enamel teapot or covered pan.

Hot Infusion

(A “tea ball” or a square of cheesecloth tied securely may be used to contain the herbs) 

  • Boil water
  • Wait 30 seconds, then sprinkle the herb on the water to steep
  • Stir occasionally for 5-10 minutes depending on strength desired.
  • Strain the infusion and drink it at a comfortable temperature.
  • Sweeten with honey or raw brown sugar if desired.

 

Sun Tea

(A “tea ball” or a square of cheesecloth tied securely may be used to contain the herbs.)

  • Fill a glass container with cool water
  • Sprinkle a handful of fresh herbs onto the water and seal tightly.
  • Let the jar sit in the sun until the desired strength is achieved.
  • Strain and drink cool or warm.
  • Sweeten with honey or raw brown sugar if desired.

Herbs for Tea

Following are a few of the herbs to choose from. There are many more, which your own research will show you. You will also find combinations to try and can find out what benefits each herb gives to the body.

Anise, Marjoram, Lemon Verbena, Angelica, Lemon Balm, Spearmint, Chamomile, Lemon Verbena, Borage, Lemongrass, Savory, Rosemary, Thyme, Horehound, Basil, Peppermint, Apple Mint, Pineapple Mint, Fennel, Dill, Catnip, Burnet.

  • Grow your Tea Garden in full sun
  • Water as needed, allowing the soil to dry slightly between waterings.
  • Fertilize early in the season with a slow release fertilizer such as Osmocote. You may use a liquid fertilizer or an organic fertilizer such as Fish Meal. Try not to splash the fertilizer on the plants.
  • Harvest fresh, young leaves as needed.
 

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