If you enjoy a cup of hot tea when snowbound or an iced tea shared with friends on a hot summer day, why not plant a TEA GARDEN?
Most of my gardens are organized and planted around ‘themes’. I’ll be including more about my gardens in my musings, but, today, lets talk about planting a few herbs for tea (of course, in addition to other beneficial uses). Here are a few ‘tea’ herbs you may consider adding to your garden this Spring.
- lemon balm – easily grown from seed, but beware, it’s hardy and spreads throughout the garden! You’ll be digging it up and sharing with fellow gardeners.
- lemon verbena – sweet lemon scent easily grown in a pot; a tender herb that must be brought indoors during winter months.
- lavender – a few buds of lavender offers a unique distinct flavor; did you know lavender is from the same family, Labiatae, as mints? Hint: They all have ‘square’ stems…check it out!
- bee balm – or bergamot, a native American plant – known as one of the ‘freedom teas’ dating back to the Boston Tea Party.
- chamomile (German)- not to be confused with Roman chamomile, the blossoms are used to make a soothing tea.
- peppermint, black stemmed – loveliest fragrance and flavor of all the mints; most often used for commercial trade – BEWARE, mints tend to be very invasive!
- spearmint – the classic mint for flavoring a mint julep and the most used for culinary purposes.
Like most herbs, they prefer full sun and well-drained soil (mints will tolerate shade and more moisture) and once established, are relatively care-free and low-maintenance. Harvest regularly after the morning dew has evaporated and use fresh or preserve the herbs by air-drying. Simply tie a bundle together and hang from a peg or back of chair away from direct sunlight. Alternate ‘instant gratification’ drying method, simply toss the herbs in a brown paper bag, roll shut and toss in the back of your car trunk while running errands on a hot summer day…the herbs will be dry by your return trip home AND the car heavenly scented! Store dried herbs in an air-tight container away from heat, moisture (not next to the stove!) and light.
To brew a cup of herb tea, place a few leaves (according to desired strength) in a covered cup of boiling water and allow to steep for five minutes or so. Flavor with honey, lemon or milk if desired. You may also add a few leaves to your favorite tea blend – for additional flavor. Remember, fresh herbs versus dried, use 3:1 ratio as dried herbs are more concentrated.
Hope you plant a few herbs for tea!