Tea is delicious and soothing and often times, it boasts a ton of health properties. Most people think that they need to buy their exotic herbal tea at the supermarket or the health food store, but few people realize that they can use a tea garden as a part of their landscape to not only beautify their yard, but supply them with a variety of delicious teas to last throughout the year.
To get your tea garden started, you’ll need a sunny spot and a patch of land that you can devote to your new plantings. Most plants that you’ll be using to make your teas are also exceptionally beautiful, so if you’re short on land, a few window boxes or planters will definitely do!
Growing chamomile is not hard in the slightest. The lovely little daisy like flowers make it a wonderful addition to your landscape and the calming and soothing properties of chamomile are unmatched as a sleepy time tea or a comforting drink when you’re feeling under the weather. For chamomile tea, you’re going to want to gently crush the fresh flowers or dry them to enjoy later.
You’re not going to want to make a whole cup of lavender tea, it’s far too perfumed and pungent for that kind of application, but you can certainly combine it with some of your other favorites to add a wonderful soothing quality to the tea (it will also smell amazing). To use lavender you either crush some of the fresh buds (purple part) or use them dried. Lavender is said to have a ton of health properties, but is most widely known for calming anxiety, reducing stress and helping you sleep.
Rose hips are in almost any herbal tea you’ll pick up at the supermarket. They add a wonderful flowery aroma, and a rich taste to any tea (they make a great addition to black or green tea too!). They are rich in vitamin C and boast a zillion health benefits. Most popularly though, they contain 25% of your required Vitamin A for the day and more vitamin C than an orange. To gather these, make sure you’re growing roses somewhere in your garden. The red kind of bulbous part, that’s the “hip” you pull it out of the center of the rose and either steep it in some hot tea or you can simply dry them (see the end of the article for drying tips)
Lemon balm is a pretty common herb and super easy to grow. You use the leaves from the lemon balm plant to make your tea. It’s a wonderful fresh and spicy tea, that can be had on its own, added to chamomile, green or black teas, or used with a variety of other herbs to make your own signature herbal tea. One of the most delicious iced teas you’ll ever make is lemon balm and a bit of rosemary. You add a few cut cucumbers to the mix once it’s cool and you have the powerhouse of delicious and nutritious herbal tea.
If you’ve grown an herb garden before, you’re likely no stranger to a mint plant. Mint is a hardy plant, and it comes in a variety of flavors to add interest to your teas. Known for it’s ability to calm sore bellies, help relieve congestion and generally calm people, it also offers a healthy dose of Vitamin A and a little Vitamin C, which can both help when you’re not feeling your best. You can steep the fresh leaves or dry them for your own organic mint tea. It’s also wonderful mixed with a little bit of lemon verbena when you’re feeling under the weather.
Bergamot is an orange flavored plant with purple blossoms. You’ve likely seen wild bergamot growing in ditches and fields, but it has a great place in your garden as well. As a member of the mint family, a quick note to grow this beauty would be: plant it in a pot or it will take over your whole garden! You can plant the pot in the ground, but you’ll definitely want to contain it somehow. Bergamot prefers to have wet roots and loves a partially shady area, but all in all it’s pretty hardy, so if you keep it well watered, you should be fine. You use the leaves of the plant for tea, fresh or dried is just fine, and only use a bit!
There are literally hundreds of herbs and spices that you can grow to start making your own tea. It’s easy and most of the herbs and spices you’ll end up growing you can also use for a myriad of other recipes and applications (nothing is going to waste around here!) Be creative, choose your favorite flavors and interesting plants. If you can eat it, you can turn it into tea!
When drying your herbs to make tea over the winter months, make sure to hang them somewhere and let them dry out for about 2 months (just to make sure they’re really dried out before you store them). If you have a dehydrator, that will work too (a couple of hours will do it). Then simply store them in air tight containers to keep in the freshness and enjoy all year round!