Beginning a Tea Garden
Whether a warm cup to warm you up, or over ice to wipe the sweat from your brow – herbal tea is the perfect refreshment year round and is delicious at any temperature. Unlike standard black and green teas, herbal teas are not made from the Camellia Sinesis plant. They are derived from a variety of dried flowers, spices, herbs, and fruits.
When harvesting the following herbs be sure to clip them before they flower. If you wait too long they may lose their flavor or the taste will turn bitter. The trick to harvesting is all about timing. Cut herbs mid-morning, right when the morning dew has dried from the leaves.
The best way to dry herbs is air-drying, which keeps the oils in tact. Tie small bunches of herbs upside down and let dry for a week or two. Drying is complete when the stems break easily and the leaves crumble when crushed. Store herbs in an airtight container (they usually keep for a year), and mix blends to create pleasing flavor profiles or to target specific needs.
There are dozens of health benefits from drinking herbal tea including relaxation, pain reduction, stress and anxiety relief, and improvement of the digestive and immune systems. It’s no secret that tea is a popular selection for those looking to improve their health naturally. Unlike coffee and standard teas, most herbal teas are caffeine-free and feature nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants – depending on the herbs used in the blend.
Here are the health benefits of many beginning garden herbs and ones that can easily be foraged:
relives stress, boosts immunity, eases cold symptoms, soothes stomachaches, and aids in getting a better night’s sleep.
reduces anxiety and stress, soothes digestive issues and headaches, offers relief from inflamed tissues, eases tension, and helps with insomnia.
blood sugar-lowering benefits, respiratory relief, improve digestion, relives cough and cold symptoms. Both the leaves and flowers can be harvested for tea and used fresh or dried.
alleviate muscle pain, improve memory, boost the immune and circulatory system, and promote hair growth.
variety of flavors of mint tea, all with different properties. Don’t forget to keep mint contained in a separate pot or it tends to take over the entire garden.
aids both insomnia and anxiety. It’s is part of the mint family so it looks like mint but smells like lemons. Can also be invasive; so be sure to remove the flowers as soon as they appear to control growth. (Most mint expands by their roots whereas lemon balm spreads throughout the garden with their seeds).
often considered a weed, this herb has anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties and is filled with antioxidants. It’s quite invasive like mint, so be sure to have it in a contained environment or pot. Also, make sure it’s okay to grow in your state – in some it’s actually illegal to buy or sell because it’s considered a noxious weed.
rose leaves, buds, petals, and rose hips can all be used in making tea. When choosing which roses to grow, choose ones with a pleasing scent like heirloom roses. Yellow and pink usually have the most flavor and fragrance. The white part of the petal can cause a bitter taste, so clip before use. Roses typically need at least six hours of sun every day. Check regularly for little critters and prune regularly.
high in calcium, boosts the immune system, increases metabolism, helps regulate hormones, and helps ease cold and flue symptoms. Dry the leaves and crush them to add or make raspberry tea.
traditionally been used medicinally to treat diarrhea when infused into a tea.
elderberry trees product both edible flowers and delicious fruits. The berries contain more vitamin c than oranges and help boost the immune system. Always make sure to cook elderberries. The elder flowers are great for treating respiratory issues, and can help alleviate hot flashes.
high in vitamin a, anti-inflammatory benefits, reduce liver damage, and help relieve flu symptoms. The whole dandelion plant can be brewed or just the leaves, roots, or stems.
Many of these herbs are commonly found in established gardens and are easy to take care of for any beginning gardener.
Whether you have a small space in a well-lit window or a large plot of land, you can always fit in a deliciously decorative tea garden!
Courtney was born and raised in the restaurant industry, so it comes as no surprise that her writing and storytelling is centered around food and drink. She works full-time in Detroit’s restaurant industry and spends her free time exploring the great lakes with her husband and rescue pups.
You can follow her ramblings at her website, www.spoonfulofink.com, and on Instagram and Twitter at @spoonfulof_ink.