As you plan your herb garden, there are different themes that you could employ: you may be after some herbs that have medicinal properties, otherwise, you might wish to plant herbs that are ideal for your preferred style of cooking, you could have an Italian, French, or Indian herb garden or it’s also possible to cultivate your herb garden just for looks and smell since many herbs have beautiful blooms and wonderful scents.
A fascinating option is to plant an herbal tea garden and it’s easy to start with just five herbs that, when steeped, create exquisite teas.
Strictly speaking, unless a hot beverage is created from actual tea leaves it is not tea, instead, it should be called a tisane or an infusion, however, most people know these drinks like teas or more precisely herbal teas.
To brew an herbal tea there is the choice of using either fresh or dry ingredients but if you are using freshly plucked herbs just collect three times as much as you would for dried herbs and just remember that by bruising the leaves before steeping them releases the oils and enhances your tea’s flavor.
Simply let the herbs steep in boiling hot water for three to five minutes so that the full aroma saturates the water, then strain the finished tea into a cup.
Planted Outdoors or Indoors
Tea gardens can either be planted outdoors or indoors in pots. I’m growing my herbal tea garden just outside the kitchen door, very handy when I feel like making a quick cup of tea, besides, every time I open the door a beautiful fragrance finds its way into my kitchen.
There are many wonderful herbs to choose from when creating a tea garden. It makes sense to start with a few herbs that are easy to cultivate and versatile in their use. As your knowledge increases and your taste buds expand your herb garden will spread in size accordingly.
Mint provides a fragrant and very refreshing drink on a hot summer’s day! Here is a delightful and easy recipe that I’ve learned from my Italian friend and that all my family enjoys: collect six or eight mint leaves from your Italian herb garden, chop them finely, put them in a jug and cover them with refrigerated water and a few ice cubes for an extra cold drink.
Let the mint steep for five minutes before removing the leaves then squeeze half a lemon in the jug and … there you have it: a wonderful thirst-quenching summer drink. Besides using mint as a refreshing drink, a few mint leaves may be added to a pot of hot China tea or any other herb teas.
Chamomile is one of my favorites. The humble white and yellow flowers are a pleasure to the eye, moreover, bees love chamomile flowers. Soothing chamomile tea is a wonderful relaxant to sip in the evening, just before bedtime.
Research also suggests that drinking chamomile tea helps the body fight off colds. If you can source a few plants of ‘Lawn chamomile’ also known as Roman chamomile you can use it as a ground cover in your herbal tea garden since it emanates a lovely aroma when walked on.
St. John’s Wort produces a tea that can combat irritability and depression and generally uplifts the spirit. Legends dating back to the 1500s tell that the plant sprang up from the blood of St. John the Baptist when he was beheaded, this is because when the petals are rubbed between the fingers, a resin is released, leaving a red stain.
To make a tea, simply pour a cup of boiling water onto a ½ to 1 teaspoon of fresh St. John’s Wort leaves and flowers that you’ve just picked from your herbal tea garden and let them infuse for five minutes.
Rose hips make a tangy tea that is high in vitamin C. Rose hips form after the rose has lost its petals. Any rose variety produces rose hips although the most delicious herbal tea is obtained from the ‘Rosa Rugosa’ selection.
Coriander, otherwise known as cilantro, is a surprising herb. It looks very similar to Italian parsley although it has a very distinct aroma. The leaves of coriander make a delicious tea when mixed with other herbs such as fennel, caraway, and aniseed.
No matter where your garden is or what herbs you decide to grow in it, your herbal tea garden will provide you with fresh-brewed beverages to fit any mood and taste buds.
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