If you are cold, tea will warm you; if you are too heated, it will cool you; If you are depressed, it will cheer you; If you are excited, it will calm you.William Ewart Gladstone
Coffee and I have a bad romance. Frankly, we have not been getting along for a while. I want it, but makes me far too jittery and encourages me to consume more sugar.
I have switched to tea.
At first, I was so focused on missing out on coffee that I wasn’t exactly embracing tea.
Until, I found myself in a specialty tea store, shopping for a birthday gift for a dear friend and committed tea drinker.
The store had a staggering amount of herbal teas and had plenty of tasting samples. The irony was, many of the names of the teas, I already knew. Lemongrass, bergamot, lemon balm, spearmint, peppermint. I grew these herbs in my garden and used them in my cooking, but until that point, I never used them in tea.
Now, herbal tea is a daily ritual. Hot and cold!
The other lovely aspect of switching to tea is I am using my Nan’s teacup collection. Delicate and beautiful, they are a pleasure to use.
I have even added a few teacups to her collection! Keep an eye peeled at charity shops and swap meets for a teacup to tickle your fancy.
Herbs grow really well in pots, and are preferable in some circumstances. Some herbs will romp all over your garden and push their boundaries! Anyone who has tried to keep mint, geraniums and tansy contained knows that they spread quickly if left unchecked.
I grow thirsty herbs in closed plastic pots to ensure they always enjoy moist soil. Remember to always mulch your pots
Herbal teas can be strongly flavoured, and in some instances, quite potent. There are some cautions when growing and using herbs for tea. Be sure that you have correctly identified each herb before infusing. When in doubt, don’t drink it!
Writing this post was a challenge, simply because there are so many herbal tea options, I could likely write a whole book on the topic! So I have included
To prepare your herbal teas, simply steep fresh or dried herb in your teacup for 3-5 minutes. Add sweetener if you prefer. Herbal teas are typically consumed without milk.
Your herbs can be blended with your favourite green or black teas to impart a subtle flavour. As always, experiment, until you find the blend that suits your taste.
If you wish to make iced tea, simply cool your steeped brew until room temperature before putting in the refrigerator. Serve in a tall glass with ice!
Lemon Balm is one of my favourite herbs! Its lemon scent is delicate, without being too overpowering. I find lemon balm tea is soothing and calming. Yet, there are some strong contradictions with lemon balm, especially for people who experience thyroid issues and are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Lemon balm has some of the tiniest seeds you will ever see! Personally, I prefer to divide an existing clump to propagate. I find my cuttings wilt before they root.
The good news is, once your lemon balm finds a spot it loves, shady, with well drained soil and plenty of water on offer, it will thrive for years.
Infuse a few leaves in a cup of just-boiled water and allow to steep for a few minutes. Lemon balm blends well with green tea, bergamot and stevia.
If you love Earl Grey tea, you are already familiar with bergamot’s subtle orange scent.
Bergamot is also known as Oswego tea, named after the American Indian people who introduced bergamot to the early Shaker colonies at the time of the Boston Tea Party when British supplies of the highly taxed black tea were famously dumped into the Boston harbour.
Bergamot is a thirsty herb that likes water and a shady protected position. It grows very well in pots.
Bergamot leaves can be used fresh or dried, and blend well with black and green teas.
Mint tea has been consumed for thousands of years, as a digestive, and its health benefits have been researched extensively.
There are many different varieties of mint, my top three are peppermint, spearmint and choc mint.
Peppermint is almost spicy-hot, thanks to the high amount of menthol in
I enjoy hot peppermint tea in warm weather, it is ironically, quite cooling and refreshing!
Spearmint is less spicy than peppermint, with much less menthol (only 0.5%) in its leaves than peppermint. If peppermint tea is too strong for you, spearmint may be more to your taste. Spearmint is a better option for children too.
This smells just like an after dinner mint! While the chocolate-mint fragrance doesn’t quite translate to a rich, hot minty chocolate, it is still a delicious blend! Chocolate mint pairs really well with stevia for a sweet, calorie-free treat. A great
I have a mint patch under a frangipani tree that dies off in the summer, but comes back twice as thick as soon as the weather cools. Plant mint in your garden and it will soon take over! To keep mint year-round, I keep it in a pot, where I can move it to a shadier, more protected spot in the warmer months.
Mints can be overpowering in teas, but that can be used to some advantage. Mint is ideal to mask the more bitter, or unpalatable herbs like Gotu Kola and Brahmi. I like mint with green tea, as I find green tea on
Chamomile tea’s benefits are well documented and have been proven via a number of studies for its numerous health benefits. Chamomile tea may assist with insomnia, mouth ulcers, flatulence, stomach cramps and diarrhea, arthritis and back pain. it is one of the worlds most popular herbal teas, with an estimated one million cups consumed daily.
There are two types of chamomile. The Roman variety is an evergreen perennial plant often used as a ground cover. It’s easily propagated by division, with large flowers. Roman chamomile’s scent is reminicent of green apples.
German or blue chamomile is an annual, best propagated by seed. The flowers are borne on long, branching stems with a few flowers on the tops. German chamomile’s scent is reminicient of sweet straw or freshly mown hay.
I grow both, but much prefer Roman chamomile, yet it is a little delicate in my hot and dry climate. It does best in a pot of rich moist soil in part shade.
Trim the flowers and infuse whole in boiling water for 3-5 minutes. Chamomile blends well with green tea, stevia, and lemon balm but its delicate scent is easily overpowered by mint and more pungent herbs. Chamomile tea is also delicious as an iced tea.
If you want sweet tea without the calories, stevia is your herb! Reputed to be three hundred times more sweet than sugar, stevia is also considered suitable for diabetics as it doesn’t interfere with blood sugar levels.
There is mixed information about the safety and use of stevia. It is worth noting, however, a few of those studies examine commercially refined stevia-based sweeteners, rather than the whole fresh or dried herb.
Stevia is sweet, but it has a distinct flavour that tends to work better with some flavours more than others. Stevia with coffee in my opinion, is bloody awful. But it suits herbal tea!
Stevia is a thirsty herb and while I have little success growing it in the beds, it flourishes in a plastic, self-watering pot in part shade. I find as soon as the weather heats up, it wants to bolt to seed, so I pinch out the top leaves regularly to keep it compact.
It is challenging to grow from seed. I have attempted several times using purchased seed and fresh seed sourced from my own plants with little joy. It does strike cuttings in a glass of water very well!
A single fresh leaf is enough to sweeten a mug of tea. It dries quickly on a cooling rack on a clean tea towel and store well in an air-tight container.
I love scented geraniums! They love my sunny, dry climate and are available in so many different varieties.
My favourite scented geranium would have to be rose geraniu. A close second would be peppermint, followed by lime, apple and cinnamon scented varieties.
Geraniums are perennials and are most easily propagated by striking cutting in a glass of water or straight into moist seed raising mix. Geraniums are a great herb to propagate for beginners, they are practically fail-safe.
The only problem with scented geraniums is their pungency. An infusion of the leaves will smell like eau de cologne and taste like to too. Not very pleasant!
I find the best way to use scented geraniums is to infuse the leaves in a jar of sugar. Just place the leaves whole in a jar and layer sugar over the leaves. Don’t over-do it, a few leaves is all it takes to impart a wonderful scent and flavour into the sugar.
A small amount of the geranium infused sugar will sweeten, fragrance and flavour your tea.
There are many more herbs that can be used in herbal teas!
What are your favourite herbs for herbal tea? Do you have a favourite, sentimental teacup? Please leave a message below, I would love to hear from you.