From Planting to Drying – You Can Make Delicious Herbal Tea
Making herbal tea from your own garden is so simple that you may find yourself enjoying a freshly steeped cup of tea every day.
Can I dry my own herbs to make tea? Absolutely. Can I make herbal tea from fresh herbs? Yes! Using fresh herbs means you don’t have to wait for them to dry to make tea.
In this post, we’ll go over the basic growing techniques for herbs as well as the harvesting, drying, and tea-making process. From Chamomile, the most popular herbal tea, to refreshing peppermint, we’ve got you covered.
How to Grow an Herbal Tea Garden
A container garden can be an excellent choice for herbs. During the winter months, the containers can be moved indoors, and as long as they receive 6 hours of sunlight every day, they will continue to grow. Containers work especially well for herbs in the mint family since they can spread rapidly.
How to Harvest Herbs for Tea
When do I harvest herbs for tea?
Herbs can be harvested anytime during the growing season.
Which parts of the plant do I harvest to make herbal tea?
It depends on the herb.
Mint teas are made from plant leaves. Fresh leaves are best, but you can also dry them to preserve them. Strip leaves from the stems to harvest.
Harvest the flowers of Chamomile, Echinacea, Calendula, Lavender, and Borage, to make tea. Snip the flowers off just behind the blossom. Teas can be made with fresh flowers or dried. Try them both and decide which flavor you like best.
Harvest herbs in the morning after the dew has evaporated and before the plant oils dry from the heat. Rinse the flowers and leaves to prepare them for making tea and for drying.
How to Dry Herbs for Tea
Drying herbs is pretty simple. Successful drying conditions include good air circulation and keeping herbs out of direct sunlight. In dry locations, this can be done outside or in a clean garden shed. In more humid areas, you may want to use a food dehydrator. The perfect temperature is between 95 and 115 degrees.
The main thing to remember is to get the herbs sufficiently dry if they are going to be stored. They should crush easily when dry.
When drying leaves, spread them out so that they aren’t overlapping. To dry flowers, make sure they are spread out so that they will dry and not just get moldy. You can also hang them from the stems.
Once herbs have dried, store them in airtight glass containers away from sunlight. Shelf life is about 12 to 18 months.
How to Make Herbal Tea
Ready to make delicious herbal tea?
The basic method is to place fresh leaves or flowers in a cup and pour boiling water over the herbs. In general, the herbs will need to steep for 5 to 7 minutes. Some herbs can turn bitter, so start with 5 minutes and see how the flavor is.
To increase the flavor, use more herbs, not longer steeping time. Start with about 2 tablespoons of herbs.
With fresh loose-leaf teas, you just need a way to strain the leaves before drinking. A tea infuser works best with dry herbs, but there are also other simple methods.
You can duplicate the traditional and fancy method of using a Gaiwan (Chinese lidded tea bowl) by placing a plate over the bowl of steeped tea and carefully straining the tea into a cup.
Another method is to use a French Press to steep your herbal teas. It’s simple to add the boiling water and then strain the tea as you pour it into a teacup.
A coffee filter is another way to strain the leaves easily. First, rinse the filter to remove any paper taste. Next, place the coffee filter in the cup. Place the loose leaves or flowers on top. Then add the boiling water. Let it steep. When ready, remove the filter with the herbs inside.
There are lots of health benefits associated with drinking herbal tea. And many different flavor combinations you can create when you prepare your own.
Tips for Specific Herbal Teas
German Chamomile Tea Tips
Chamomile Tea is the most popular tea worldwide. The flowers are harvested for tea. You can try them fresh or dried. Cut the whole stem to hang and then remove flowers when dry.
Lavender Tea Tips
Lavender Tea has a strong floral taste. Harvest just before the buds are all the way open. Cut the stems several inches below the flower spike to tie into bundles to hang and dry. Place a cloth beneath the drying bundles to catch buds that drop. Use the dried flower buds to make tea.
Echinacea Tea Tips
Echinacea Tea is a popular herbal remedy. The flowers and roots are most commonly used for tea making. You can also mix echinacea with lemongrass or mint for an enhanced flavor.
Lemon Balm Tea Tips
Lemon Balm is an herb in the mint family, so it is best as a tea with fresh leaves. Leaves can be harvested anytime during the growing season.
Mint Tea Tips
Fresh mint leaves produce the best flavor in tea. Large mint plants can handle heavy pruning, so don’t worry about chopping away. Mint is not the same as peppermint. Each kind of mint has its own distinct flavor.
Calendula Tea Tips
Harvest calendula blossoms before they go to seed. The flowers can be used fresh or dried for tea.
Peppermint Tea Tips
Peppermint tea is popular for its refreshing flavor. It works well with fresh leaves but can also be dried.
Borage Tea Tips
Borage flowers and leaves can be used both fresh and dried for tea. Harvest flowers when they are fully open.
Lemon Mint Tea Tips
Remove blossoms to encourage a longer growing season. Use fresh leaves for the best flavor.
Marjoram Tea Tips
Marjoram has notes of pine and citrus. Its leaves are used for tea both fresh and dry. Dried marjoram is more potent than fresh.
Lemon Grass Tea Tips
Lemon Grass likes lots of sunshine and does well in warm climates. To harvest, pull the leaves out from the base of the plant. The bottom white part is the most edible. You can use the leaves immediately or dry them for long-term storage. Cut leaves into 1 to 2-inch pieces. Pour boiling water over. Let sit for at least 5 minutes for an infused tea.
Now you have it—the tips you need to start enjoying your home-grown fresh herbal teas.