Mother’s Day is coming, and I can’t think of a better “gift” than a big basket of tea herbs to grow. Tea is healing, calming and refreshing. With the corona virus still a concern, growing and brewing homemade tea is a positive, happy thing to do.Here’s a few of my favorites, along with growing and brewing tips:
•Don’t baby your herbs. Normal soil, lots of sun and watering only when required will give you lush growth and optimum health benefits.
•Like all fresh herbs, harvest early after the dew has dried.
•Most herbs are at their peak just before they bloom. But don’t forget about the flowers - they are edible and lend a nice flavor and color to teas.
•Crush the herbs right before you use them.
•Harvest all the herbs at the end of the season, and dry them for winter teas.
RECIPE FOR MAKING TEA
A little more, or less, won’t make a difference. It’s personal!
•Fresh herbs: 1 tablespoon per 8 ozs. water
•Dry herbs: 1 teaspoon per 8 ozs. water
•Mix and match: use your imagination. Do a sniff test. Do they smell good together? There you go!
•Steep 3-5 minutes. There’s no true rule. Go to taste. You may need a little less, or more time, depending upon the herbs used.
•After steeping, strain and enjoy.
•Add a squirt of lemon juice if you like.
•Sweeten with stevia or honey.
FAVORITE HERBS FOR TEA
Mint. Both spearmint and peppermint, along with chocolate, Thai and other mints are super for tea.Invigorating!
Basil. A bracing, very fresh, licorice clove like flavor.
The Tulsi/holy basils are used medicinally and have a very spicy flavor. At the start of a cold or fever, the Tulsi basils offer health benefits. One of the most respected medicinal herbs. May help relieve stress and joint pain.
Chamomile.A classic. Flowers make a calming and beautiful colored tea.
Fennel. This licorice flavored tea warms and soothes. Great for digestion.
Lavender. The scent alone is calming. Helps you get to sleep.
Lemon Balm. This mint family member has a slight citrus flavor with the coolness of mint.
Lemon Verbena. Scarlett OHara’s mother’s favorite herb! Strong, true lemon fragrance. Helps alleviate cold symptoms, and is lovely either hot or cold.
Bee Balm. Monarda is its formal name, but oswego tea is another. This has a stronger flavor than most herbal teas, minty to my palate. Used a lot in commercialtea blends.
Rose Hips. Yep, those seed pods of roses are related to apples and crabapples, and make a fruity, somewhat floral tea filled with vitamins. Don’t go overboard here. It may have a mild laxative effect until you get used to it.
Jasmine. I grow this tender perennial year round. The haunting scent of the flowers is unmistakable.A popular brewed commercial tea.
Rosemary.A little of this piney tasting herb goes a long way. Super for when your mind an memory need a boost, or when you’ve had a long day. Add some pineapple sage (not a true sage but a lovely, fruity annual) for a bit of sweet aroma and flavor.
Sage. This perennial has a grassy, herbal flavor with lots of health benefits. Stressed out? Have a cup. I like to combine it with thyme, for extra healing benefits.
Thyme. This hearty perennial is anti-bacterial, among other things.It has a peppery, more savory flavor.A cup of thyme and sage tea with a squirt of lemon and the sweentess of honey helps anything upper respiratory.
Stevia. Nature’s sweetener. This South American herb is perfect for teas. Make sure you crush the leaves to extract the sweetness, which can be 30 to hundreds of times sweeter than sugar. A little goes a long way.