How to grow, harvest and preserve herbs for tea

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tea garden

Herbal tea is a healthy and delicious drink that tastes even better when brewed from homegrown herbs. Grow herbs for tea in a small section of your garden, in containers on a sunny window sill or in a companion planting arrangement with fruits and vegetables.

Here are a few of my favorite herbs to grow in a tea garden:

Herbs to flavor tea

  • Stevia adds sweetness
  • Rosemary is fresh and stimulating
  • Lemon verbena is tart and tangy
  • Pineapple sage has a sweet, floral smell
  • Chocolate mint has a strong menthol flavor

Medicinal herbs for tea

homegrown tea
Homegrown tea

Adding medicinal herbs to homegrown tea blends can aid digestion, relaxation and boost immunity.

  • Peppermint for indigestion
  • Echinacea to boost immunity
  • Chamomile to relax
  • Lemon balm for upset stomach
  • Nettles are anti-inflammatory

Companion herbs for tea

Companion planting positions specific plants together to grow in a mutually beneficial partnership. The following herbs support their partner’s development and ward off pests during growth, and make great tea after harvest.

  • Basil near tomatoes promotes plant growth
  • Sage near cabbage deters moths and flies
  • Calendula near beans gets rid of beetles 

How to grow, harvest and preserve herbs

  1. Select containers with good drainage.
  2. Fill containers ¾ full with potting medium.
  3. Sprinkle herb seeds on top of soil. Pat down gently.
  4. Water initially. Continue to water as required to keep soil moist, not saturated.
  5. Fertilize if necessary.
  6. Herbs thrive in well-drained soil, moderate temperatures and 6 or more hours of light a day.
  7. Cut herbs when plants begin to form buds, with the exception of  chamomile or calendula, whose flowers are utilized to make tea.
  8. Rinse herbs and shake away excess water.
  9. Blanching herbs before drying helps keep color, but is not critical to preserve herbs.
  10. Tie herbs in breathable bundles and hang to dry, or place in a dehydrator at 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
  11. Store dried herbs in airtight containers until use.

hot herbal teaMake your own mint tea blend

  1. Place 2 parts preserved mint and 1 part preserved lemon verbena in a clean quart-sized jar.
  2. Top jar with airtight lid.
  3. Shake jar to combine.
  4. Brew tea with 1 Tbsp mint tea per 8 oz cup of hot water. Steep for at least 1 minute before enjoying tea hot or allow tea to cool completely for refreshing iced tea.

DIY tea bags

homemade tea bag
Homemade tea bag

Make your own reusable tea bags with fine cheesecloth, muslin or coffee filters.

  1. Cut a small square of fabric.
  2. Place 1 Tbsp tea at center of cloth.
  3. Secure with embroidery thread.

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