Grow a tea garden

What can cool you down on a hot summer day, pair with cakes at a fancy brunch, and soothe a sore throat on a frosty winter night? It’s the second most consumed beverage in the world, tea.

From its roots in China over 4,000 years ago, tea made its way across Asia and Europe and into the homes and hearts of people around the world. Along with its widespread popularity have come endless ways of preparing tea.

One of the most popular ways Americans serve hot tea is brewed it with herbs, such as lavender and mint. Some people forgo the tea altogether and brew the herbs on their own, making herbal infusions known as tisanes. No matter how you make it, tea is a delightful addition to most any meal.

Growing a garden of tea and herbs can allow you to enjoy your own blends, as well as the beautiful flowers and aromas of fresh herbs. Here, we’ll teach you how to plant, harvest, prepare, and brew some of the more popular tisanes and teas.

Contents

Chamomile

Chamomile is known for its calming effects, but the small, daisy-like flower can also increase appetite and relieve indigestion. The two most popular varieties of chamomile are German and Roman. German chamomile is more suited to small gardens or planters, while Roman chamomile makes a good ground cover.

Sow chamomile seeds indoors or in the garden. Chamomile grows easily when allowed to shed mature seeds. Plants do best in fertile, well-drained soil in a sunny spot. While chamomile will grow most places, it will not tolerate temperatures over 98 degrees for very long.

Harvest branches when they have several open flowers, and hang to dry in bunches. Once the stems have dried, remove the blooms and store in an airtight container. To brew, steep two teaspoons of dried flowers in one cup of boiling water for five to 10 minutes.

Mint is a hardy plant that is fairly easy to care for. It will grow in average soil and partial to full sun. Start seeds indoors and place outside after last frost, or place fresh stem-tip cuttings in moist soil to root. Mint will spread, so plant it near a barrier, such as a sidewalk, or grow it in a container.

Pick leaves often to promote growth and keep the plant bushy. While mint can be dried, it tastes as good fresh. Harvest fresh leaves, tear them up slightly, and steep in boiling water for three to seven minutes, depending on your preference. Learn more about how to grow mint and the health benefits of mint tea.

Lemon Balm

People have valued lemon balm for its calming properties for centuries. It can also help relieve headaches and lower blood pressure. Lemon balm can be grown from a root clump and is best transferred from early spring to early summer. Start seedlings safely indoors late in the winter, and set them out in spring.

While lemon balm grows easily in most places, it tends to spread. To prevent spread, grow this herb in a pot, or cut back flowering stems in late summer. Lemon balm grows best in rich, well-drained soil and full sun. Its leaves are best when harvested just as flowers are beginning to bloom. For tea, steep a few fresh leaves in boiling water for two to five minutes.

Lavender

Lavender produces beautiful purple flowers that not only smell and taste wonderful, but also help ease headaches and prevent fainting and dizziness. Lavender prefers very well-drained, almost sandy, soil and sunny, open areas. It can grow in pots or planters, but will grow taller and have better air circulation in a garden, which will help deter fungus.

Plant seeds in late summer or early autumn, or split and plant existing clumps in autumn. Harvest stalks of lavender just as flowers bloom, and dry in small bundles before storing in an airtight container. To brew, steep four teaspoons of dried flowers in boiling water for two to five minutes. Learn more about growing lavender.

Echinacea

Echinacea has antiviral and antibacterial properties, which make it great for helping to combat colds and sore throats. The whole echinacea plant, from its purple coneflowers to its roots, can be used in tinctures and teas. Start with a plant from a nursery, or sow seeds indoors in late winter. Echinacea will not bloom reliably until its second year, but it is hardy and can withstand cold winters. It prefers full sun in cold climates and partial shade in areas with hot summers. Echinacea grows best in rich soil with a neutral pH.

Roots can be washed, cut into small pieces, and dried. Stems should be cut above the bottom set of leaves and hung upside down to dry. To brew echinacea tea, steep one tablespoon of dried root or dried stems and flowers in one cup of boiling water for three minutes.

Hibiscus

Hibiscus tea has a very tangy flavor and a rich red color. Like with several other herbal teas, when you brew hibiscus you are actually brewing the flower. Studies show that it can measurably lower blood pressure. It is also frequently used for stomach upset, cramps, fever and sore throat. It’s rich in vitamin C so it can help to boost your body’s immune system.

To learn more about the benefits of Hibiscus tea read this post or this article at Web MD, or our post about how to grow hibiscus.

Stevia – A Tea Sweetener You Can Grow Too!

Stevia is a popular alternative to refined sugar and other sweeteners, and makes a delicious addition to tea. It grows well in average, well-drained soil and partial afternoon shade to full sun. Stevia seeds are hesitant to sprout, so start with a purchased plant. Pinch back often to promote bushiness and delay flowering. Gather sprigs and brew fresh in boiling water to your strength preference. Gather stems to dry before plants bloom in midsummer.

Camellia sinensis

The tea plant, or Camellia sinensis, is the plant from which tea is made. Tea leaves contain caffeine, and the leaves can be processed in different ways to produce different kinds of teas. Any brewed tea including Camellia sinensis is a proper tea, while those without Camellia sinensis—usually made from mixtures of herbs and flowers—are tisanes.

This plant prefers hardiness zones seven through nine and rich, moist environments with a lot of rainfall. Gardens located in moderate zones will be able to grow tea plants outdoors, while those in colder environments might consider keeping their tea plants in greenhouses, or pots for easy movement to insulated spaces come winter.

Despite its variety, all tea comes from the same plant. Whether it’s white, green, oolong, black, or something more intense, such as pu-erh tea, all of it is made of the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. Perhaps even more surprising is that variances in flavor are generally not attributed to the way the plant is raised, not to the part of the plant used in tea-making (almost all tea is made using the leaves), but in how the leaves are processed on their journey between stem and cup. A less common type of tea, twig tea, is made using the woody parts (think stems and branches) of the tea plant as opposed to the leaves.

While many people drink tea for its complex, intriguing bouquet of flavors or the antioxidants, others sip tea for its pick-me-up caffeine boost. If you’re looking for some extra mental energy, then aim for darker teas. It is the processing that causes teas to oxidize and become caffeinated.

Here are some of the processes you’ll need to know when harvesting from your tea plants.

Collecting: Use gardening shears or sharp scissors to snip freshly grown leaves from the ends of your tea plant.

Withering: This is the process of allowing the leaves to air-dry. Usually leaves are withered in a thin layer on a flat tray.

Rolling: using your hand or a cloth, roll the leaves so they’re wrinkled. Rolling cracks the cell walls of the leaves and allows the flavors and antioxidants to escape into your brew.

Drying: While tea can be served after it has been rolled, it is often more economic to spend your time producing enough tea for several brews. To store your tea for later use, you’ll want to dry it. You can dry your tea by spreading it out in a thin layer to air dry, then lay it out in the sun—or you can bake it under low heat until the moisture is gone from the leaves.

If you want to add some caffeinated kick to your brews, you’ll need to use some Camellia sinensis in your recipe. When harvesting from your tea plant, fresh, tender leaves are best for brewing. Depending on how processed the leaves are, various types of tea can be brewed.

White Tea

White tea has generally undergone minimal processing between harvest and consumption. To prepare white tea leaves, snip freshly grown leaves from the end of your tea plant’s branches, then let them air out away from the sun for a couple of days. Be sure to allow plenty of space and not pile them up so the moisture can evaporate and not grow mold.

Green Tea

When people think of hot tea, a freshly brewed cup of green tea often comes to mind. Green tea is very convenient because it can be consumed the same day it is harvested. To prepare green tea,snip fresh leaves from your tea plant and again let them air dry for a while—approximately seven hours. At this point, heat the leaves briefly in a frying pan, then roll the leaves. Your tea is now ready to steep and brew.!

Oolong Tea

For oolong tea, the leaves must first undergo wilting for a couple days. To allow for oxidation, the leaves must then be shaken several times in a span of about 30 minutes between each shaking. After this process, the leaves are ready to be rolled.

Black Tea

Black tea requires trial and error. Depending on your tea plant and your environment, the leaves may need a longer or shorter wilting period after harvest. While rolling leaves for black tea, more pressure is necessary than for other types of tea. You will know your leaves have been sufficiently rolled when juice starts to come out of the leaves.

The last step before serving or storing is to allow the leaves to rest in a warm place until they change color to that rich, warm red-brown black tea leaves boast. Again, depending on your tea plant and the environment you’re working in, the time it takes can vary drastically, sometimes as little as a few hours are necessary, and sometimes half a day. It will require trial and error and a watchful eye for you to learn what the exact process is to produce your best cup of tea.

Whichever type of tea or tisane you prefer, you’re bound to find the process of growing and harvesting your own cup rewarding. Use this guide to help you in selecting the types best for your taste and your environment. Then relax with a cup of freshly prepared tea you can trace every step of the way from leaf to brew.

Visit these sites to find even more information about growing your own tea garden:

Complete Guide to Herbal Teas at Gardening Channel;

How to Grow and Use Mint at Gardening Channel;

Growing Camellia at the American Camellia Society; Camellia Forest Nursery;

Farmers’ Almanac; Plant a Tea Garden at Farmers’ Almanac; Herbal Teas as Medicine at Farmers’ Almanac; Golender, Leonid;

How to Grow Chamomile at GrowVeg; How to Grow Mint at GrowVeg; How to Grow Echinacea at GrowVeg; How to Grow Lavender GrowVeg; How to Grow Stevia at GrowVeg;

Growing Your Own Tea at YouTube

Interagency Taxonomic Information System; Livestrong; School of Tea; The Tea Spot; TheKitchn.com

Authors:

Megan Smith Mauk grew up in Texas, where she developed a reverence for all forms of life. In college, she became co-chair of the environmental coalition. She now lives with her husband, and their dog and cat, in Virginia.

Kelly Jacobi is an artist, designer, student, and patio gardener who enjoys seeing her plants
thrive and adorning her walls with pieces of art created by local artists and artisans. She is currently
in pursuit of a bachelor’s of art and performance and hopes to delve deeper into her art and writing
upon completion of her degree.

How to Grow Your Own Tea Garden will show you how easy it is to have the ingredients for your favorite teas just outside your door. Who knew it would be so easy?

“Tea makes everything better.”- Bindi Irwin

Not only will growing your herbal and floral teas save you money, but most of the plants will make your yard even more beautiful.

Let’s get real for a moment, shall we? Life is hard. And messy. It’s anything but perfect.

But…having a tea garden in your backyard makes things just a wee bit better don’t you think?

Your cat vomits on the carpet…have a cup of raspberry tea to calm your nerves.

You found out tonight you’re supposed to bring brownies to your child’s classroom in the morning…a spot of mint tea will add a pep in your step as you burn the midnight oil.

Let’s face that fact that having a tea garden in your yard ups your “hip” factor by a few notches with the home-loving crowd. They will look at you a little different. Maybe even in awe.

I have a blogging buddy that has two alpacas. It doesn’t matter what’s going on in her life, she’s got the cool aura because of her fur babies.

Plus…I think we automatically want to get to know someone who has alpacas. They’re “our kind” of people.

The same goes for tea garden growers. You add a little mystery to your life.

People really start wondering new things about you:

“I wonder if she wears a big, fancy hat when she drinks tea?”

“What other type of cool activities does she do that I don’t know anything about?”

“Does she buy her clothing from a store, or did she make everything herself?”

“Am I exciting enough to hang out with a person that grows their own tea?”

It’s life-changing. At least, in my humble opinion.

As an extra bonus, after you have a season or two under your belt – you get to be a tea-tasting expert.

Let’s stop talking about growing a tea garden, it’s time to start planning.

Can you grow tea at home?

Yes you can. Lots of different types of tea garden plants can be grown in your own yard.

What can I plant in a tea garden?

This is the question I get all the time in my groups. Most people think of green tea leaves or black leaf tea, but think of all the herbal teas you buy.

Your tea garden isn’t limited to actual tea plants, there’s a whole other world of plants to pick from. This list of tea garden plants will help you get started.

Are tea plants perennial?

It depends on the type of plants you pick. Below is a list of tea plants that I recommend and it will list if it is a perennial or annual.

Related Post: Best Stress Relief Teas to Try

Your garden will transform into a place that will end up nourishing your soul and hydrating your body.

How your tea garden can produce the most beautiful gifts:

Find gifts for friends and family can be hard. When you create a tea garden it’s easy.

Why should you be the only one having all the fun? For a gift, start with a gift basket, add some shredded paper, a teacup and saucer or mug, this amazing book that will get them started on their tea garden journey, and a couple of small plant starts from your garden in clay pots.

Keep in mind if you grow mint, you will always be “gifting” everyone you meet with some. They will think you’re a thoughtful, wonderful person.

You’ll just want to find someone that will take some off your hands. Anyone is a target. Same with zucchini – but that’s another post.

Doesn’t that make a fun gift to give?

Creating a Cozy Life Group:

Since you love to garden and drink tea, I’m guessing you like all things cozy living. I created a Facebook group called Creating a Cozy Life with over 11,000 like-minded souls.

It’s a group where we share recipes, pictures of things that leave you in awe, and ideas on how to make your life just a little bit more snug. Join here to be part of the virtual cozy cabin.

Note: This post is long-winded, so make yourself a cup of tea and take the time to enjoy it!

Here’s how to How to Grow Your Own Tea Garden:

1) Growing chamomile in your tea garden.

We all know that chamomile tea helps us sleep at night, but did you also know it helps relieve stress?

It boosts immunity, eases cold symptoms, and soothes stomach aches. The flowers are gorgeous, so they add loveliness to any garden. The flowers are what you use to make your own tea.

Are chamomile plants easy to grow?

Yes, chamomile is an easy plant to grow, whether you grow Roman or German chamomile.

What are the best conditions to grow chamomile plants?

Roman chamomile is a perennial and can be grown from an established plant or by seed. German chamomile is an annual, but it self-sows.

It is an easy herb to grow and can be grown in part shade or full sun, preferring cool conditions.

It likes dry soil and doesn’t require much care. USDA Plant Hardiness zones 3-9.

What companion plants go best with chamomile plants?

Bee balm, Phlox, and Delphiniums are just some of the plants that pair well with chamomile. Delphiniums are simply dreamy, don’t you think?

2) Growing mint in your tea garden.

Who doesn’t love mint tea? There are so many different flavors of mint; the problem will be deciding what kind to plant. Peppermint, spearmint, apple mint, chocolate peppermint, or even Moroccan mint are just a few of the types of plants to pick from.

The best mint to grow for tea is finding out what flavor you like.

Don’t forget to keep mint contained, once planted it tends to take over the garden. I like to keep my mint in large ceramic pots.

Are mint plants easy to grow?

Yes, mint is crazy easy to grow and is a perennial. There are just a few tips and tricks you should know before growing this amazing herb.

What are the best conditions to grow mint plants?

They do well in both shade and sun, with soil that has good drainage. Minimal care is needed to grow this amazing herb. USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 3-11 depending on what type of mint you grow.

What are the best companion plants for mint?

It’s best to keep mint contained by itself. You can do this with pots or only planting it in a section of the garden.

Related Post: How to Grow a Mint Garden

3) Growing roses in your tea garden.

The taste and aroma of rose tea are heavenly. Rose leaves, buds, petals, and rose hips can all be used in making tea.

Most roses are edible, but there are some that are better suited for use in food and drink. You obviously wouldn’t want to add pesticides to your roses, so make sure you only use organic gardening methods.

When choosing which roses to grow, pick ones that have a pleasing scent. Old-fashioned fragrant heirloom roses work well. Yellow and pink roses usually have the most flavor and fragrance. Make sure you cut off the white part of the petal before using, it can cause a bitter taste.

Are roses easy to grow?

Roses are hardy plants and are pretty easy to grow. Some types of roses are more difficult to grow than others.

What are the best conditions to grow roses?

Most roses need at least six hours of sun every day, so picking the right spot to plant them is important. Make sure they’re in well-draining soil and add 2-3 inches of organic mulch around the plants. Check regularly for disease or insects and prune regularly.

What type of companion plants go best with roses?

Lavender goes beautifully with roses.

4) Growing elderberries in your tea garden.

Elderberry trees produce both edible flowers and delicious fruits. The berries contain more vitamin C than oranges and are used to help boost the immune system.

Native to North America, elderberry trees can be found growing wild. The American Elderberry can grow up to 12 feet tall and wide. The plants start producing berries when they are two to three years old.

If you can’t use all the elderberries produced by your tree, don’t worry they’re a favorite food of birds so they will never go to waste.

Always make sure you cook elderberries, uncooked elderberries can cause a toxic build-up of cyanide if you eat too many.

Are elderberries easy to grow?

They are one of the easiest shrubs to grow. I had them springing up all over my yard on their own.

What are the best conditions to grow elderberries?

They love moist, well-drained soil and plenty of sunshine.

What companion plants are best with elderberries?

Winterberries go well with elderberries.

Related Post: Gorgeous Rustic Potting Shed – Take a Tour

5) Growing milk thistle in your tea garden.

Sometimes what one considers a weed, another person looks at it much differently. Milk thistle is a herb that has anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties. It’s also filled with antioxidants.

Make sure its okay to grow milk thistle in your state. In some states, its considered a noxious weed and it is illegal to buy or sell plants. You can find Milk Thistle seeds here on Amazon.

Is milk thistle easy to grow?

Yes, too easy. Please note that milk thistle can be quite invasive, so make sure you plant it in a contained environment like pots.

What are the best conditions to grow milk thistle?

It likes sunny or lightly shaded areas.

What companion plants go best with milk thistle?

Milk thistle should be all by itself in a container or a sectioned off piece of garden.

6) Growing lavender in your tea garden.

I love anything lavender. Lavender tea is simply divine. It also reduces anxiety and stress and helps with insomnia.

Are lavender plants easy to grow?

Yes, they are relatively easy to grow.

What are the best conditions to grow lavender plants?

The plants need at least six hours a day and like a well-drained soil or raised beds. Don’t over water and make sure they have good air flow around the plants.

What companion plants go best with lavender?

Lavender pairs well with roses and echinacea.

7) Growing lemon balm in your tea garden.

Aiding with both insomnia and anxiety, lemon balm is a tea that will make you happy camper.

Part of the mint family, lemon balm looks like mint but smells like lemons.

Is lemon balm easy to grow?

It is very easy to grow. Lemon balm is easily propagated by plant divisions, cuttings or seeds.

What are the best conditions to grow lemon balm?

Plant lemon balm in well-drained soil where it will have some shade in the day. It can be invasive, so make sure to remove the flowers as soon as they appear to control growth. (Most mint expand by their roots, lemon balm spreads throughout the garden with their seeds.)

It does best in full-sun, but also grows in part shade. It’s an easy herb to grow.

Herbal Tea Gardens says to make sure and pick the leaves early in the day and without set flower beds.

What companion plants go best with lemon balm?

Echinacea and chamomile go well with lemon balm.

8) Growing ginger in your tea garden.

Ginger tea is so good for you. It helps reduce inflammation, improves blood circulation, relieves nausea and helps relieve stress.

Growing ginger root sounds like it would be hard, but with a couple of tips, its pretty easy. It loves filtered sunlight, a rich moist soil, warm weather, and humidity.

Related Post: Detoxing Homemade Lemon Ginger Tea

Are ginger plants easy to grow?

Yes, even though ginger is a tropical plant, you can easily grow it in your own backyard.

What are the best conditions to grow ginger?

Most ginger plants do best in a sheltered spot, filtered sunlight and moist soil.

What companion plants go best with ginger?

Hibiscus is the perfect companion to ginger.

9) Growing raspberry Leaf in your tea garden.

Raspberry leaf tea boosts the immune system, increases metabolism, helps regulate hormones, helps ease the symptoms of colds and flu and helps with inflammation. This tea is simply made from the leaves of raspberries by drying and crushing the leaves.

Are raspberry plants easy to grow?

Yes, raspberry bushes are a perennial and are pretty easy to grow.

What are the best conditions to grow raspberry bushes?

Make sure you pick the right plant type for your region. Raspberries love a good trellising system, love a good deep rich soil that drains well and has a PH soil of 6.0.

What companion plants go best with raspberry bushes?

Chamomile and Nasturtiums pair well with raspberry bushes.

10) Growing dandelions in your tea garden.

Who knew that dandelions would end up being something we would want to grow?

These amazing plants pack a powerful nutritional punch. They are said to help stimulate the gallbladder and liver. It also helps reduce water weight.

They grow in sun, partial sun and shade. The leaves and root are used in the tea.

Make sure you gather the leaves when they are tender and young. The older leaves can be more bitter.

Are dandelion plants easy to grow?

I think we all know the answer to this question. A big YES! I’m an expert-level dandelion grower. I always chuckle when I see dandelion leaves being sold in the grocery store.

What are the best conditions go grow dandelion plants for tea gardens?

This plant is perfect for gardeners sporting a black thumb. They tolerate different soil types and amounts of sunlight.

What companion plants go best with dandelions?

Dandelions are great to plant near flowering fruits and vegetables because they attract pollinators. Strawberries and raspberries are just two of the plants you should pair with dandelions.

11) Growing echinacea in your tea garden.

We all have heard how wonderful echinacea is for our health. But how many of us are growing it for our tea?

It is said to assist in helping the immune system. It may also reduce cold and flu symptoms.

It is a perennial plant, so it will keep on giving it’s health benefits year after year.

You use the root from plants that are two or three years old.

Are echinacea plants easy to grow?

Yes, they are easy to grow from seeds, plants, and through division. Echinacea plants are known throughout the gardening world as a low-maintenance plant.

Make sure you deadhead the florets for optimal growth.

What are the best conditions go grow echinacea plants?

Echinacea plants grow best in full to partial sun. They don’t like wet soil, so make sure you plant in a well-draining patch of the garden.

Keep in mine that echinacea plants are clumping plants, so make sure they have at least 18 inches between other plants.

What companion plants go best with echinacea plants?

Echinaceas pairs well with sage, Catmint, and Geraniums.

12) Growing strawberry leaf in your outdoor tea garden.

Strawberries should be one of your first things to plant. Not only can you enjoy the delicious fruit from the plant, but you use the strawberry leaves in your tea.

The leaves are said to help with joint pain.

Are strawberry plants easy to grow?

Strawberries are relatively easy to grow as long as they have full sun and are properly taken care of.

What are the best conditions to grow strawberry plants?

The strawberry plant is a perennial and prefers to grow in full sun. It will still grow in shady areas, but the plants won’t produce as much as a sunny area will. You need to have at least six hours of sun.

You definitely want well-draining soil. Make sure you keep them watered throughout summer due to their shallow roots.

Planting strawberries at least 18-20″ apart to leave room for runners is optimal.

What companion plants are best to grow with strawberry plants?

Thyme is a good companion plant with strawberries.

13) Growing thyme plants in your tea garden.

In my original post, I forgot to include thyme as one of my must-haves in a tea garden. Why? Because I drink it all the time – somehow it slipped my mind.

A reader wrote in and suggested adding it, and it floored me that I overlooked such a vital part of my everyday life.

I love thyme tea. It definitely has an unique flavor, so you don’t like thyme added to food – you’re probably not going to like thyme tea.

Personally, I think it tastes amazing. I drink it with raw honey and lemon. This is also my go-to tea when I have a cold or cough, in addition to my ginger lemon tea.

There are over 300 different varieties of thyme. Thyme is in the mint family. Now it’s just figuring out the type you want to grow.

You’re also going to want to plant enough thyme to let it flower. Bees love thyme and we want to keep our flying friends happy, don’t we?

Are thyme plants easy to grow?

Yes, they are. Thyme can be difficult to grow from seed, so it’s best to buy a few plants and propagate them throughout your garden.

What are the best conditions to grow thyme?

Thyme need space, sunlight, and well-draining soil to thrive. They are also good container plants, just make sure they have plenty of sunlight.

Each variety of thyme requires different spacing. It varies between 12-24 inches apart.

What companion plants go best with thyme?

Rosemary is the best herb to plant alongside thyme, because they have same watering and sunlight needs. Strawberries are also a good plant to grow next to thyme.

14) Growing hibiscus flowers in your tea garden.

Not only does hibiscus flowers make an amazing tea, they add such a pop of color to your garden. Gorgeous large red blooms will add beauty and elegance to any yard.

There are two different main types of hibiscus: hardy hibiscus and tropical hibiscus. Tropical hibiscus are fussy plants that are usually grown indoors, while hardy hibiscus are typically grown outside.

Over 200 different species of hibiscus exist, but the one that is used most frequently for tea is hibiscus sabdariffa. You can find organic hibiscus sabdariffa seeds on Amazon here.

Are hibiscus plants easy to grow?

Hibiscus are easy to grow as long as you provide the right conditions. Hardy hibiscus plants are a perennial and considered hardy. You want to make sure you prune your hibiscus every spring.

What are the best conditions to grow hibiscus plants?

They love full sun and a well-drained soil and can be grown in containers as well. You want to make sure you keep the soil evenly moist.

What companion plants go best with hibiscus plants?

Dwarf lavender plants are the perfect companion plant to go with hibiscus. They both love sun!

Tips for making your own tea at home:

1) Make sure you harvest your herbs before they flower. If you wait too long, they may turn bitter or lose their flavor.

2) Cut herbs mid-morning. You want to make sure the morning dew has dried from the leaves.

3) The best way to dry herbs is to air dry them. By using this slow method, you keep the oils in-tact. Tie small bunches of herbs upside down for a week or two, depending on your drying conditions. Drying is complete when the stems break easily, and the leaves crumble when crushed. Store herbs in airtight containers and label them. Keep them away from the sun and store them in a dry area. They usually keep for a year. You can also use a dehydrator to dry your herbs. I love my Excalibur dehydrator, you can find one here.

4) Natural unbleached 100 count tea bags are found here.

If you’re a tea enthusiast and a homesteader or gardener interested in growing your tea, Homegrown Tea: An Illustrated Guide to Planting, Harvesting and Blending Teas and Tisanes by Cassie Liversidge. It has beautiful illustrations for each type of tea, along with instructions on how to harvest, dry and make each one featured.

Here’s a Few Resources on Creating Your Own Tea Blends:

Wellness Mama

Eating Well

The Kitchn

Martha Stewart

Resources on Preparing and Amending Your Soil for a Herb Garden:

wikiHow

How Stuff Works

Planet Natural

Here’s Some Ideas on How to Design Your Herb Garden:

Growing Herbs: How to Design an Herb Garden (on Youtube)

Tips for Designing an Herb Garden on DIY Network

How to Build a Spiral Herb Garden

More Resources on How to Grow A Tea Garden:

Herbal Tea Gardens: 22 Plans for you Enjoyment and Well-Being

The first half of the book gives a description of all the different herb plants to grow. The second part of the book outlines garden plans.

Here’s the garden plans outlined:

Relaxation Garden

Cough, Cold and Flu Garden

First-Aid Garden

Tummy Care Garden

Aphrodisiac Garden

Headache Relief Garden

Sleepy Time Garden

Women’s Care Garden

Bladder Care Garden

Arthritis Care Garden

Pain Relief Garden

Immunity Booster Garden

Purifying Garden

Liver Care Garden

Tonic Garden

Kidney Care Garden

Heart Care Garden

We’ve reached the end of How to Grow a Tea Garden. I hope you enjoyed it.

Make sure you subscribe so you don’t miss a post. You wouldn’t want to miss other posts like

7 Best Detox Teas For a Flatter Belly

Let me know in the comments below how you liked Backyard Tea Garden.

Make sure you join our Creating a Cozy Life – Hygge Style facebook group. You’re not going to believe how amazing it is. Join here to be part of the virtual cozy cabin.

Pin this post below on your gardening board on Pinterest.

Thanks for stopping by. I’m so happy you found us!

Beautiful and Creative Ways to Display Succulent Plants

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSaveSaveSave

Growing Your Own Tea Garden: The Guide to Growing and Harvesting Flavorful Teas in Your Backyard

You Love To Drink Tea. Why Not Grow Your Own? If you’ve ever considered raising your own tea, this comprehensive guide is the place to start. Growing Your Own Tea Garden is packed with inspiration and practical instructions for cultivating and enjoying delicious teas. Author Jodi Helmer helps you plan and plant a productive backyard tea garden, with sample garden designs and cultivation advice.
She shows you how to choose the right crops for your soil and climate, starting with the tea plant (Camellia sinensis) and going on through a comprehensive survey of tisanes, or herbal teas. Discover how to grow the full range of herbal infusions that make wonderful teas, from flowering chamomile and lavender to chicory roots, rose hips, lemon verbena, peppermint, aromatic bergamot and more. Jodi shows you how to harvest, dry and store your tea to enjoy all year long, along with brewing tips and creative recipes.
Inside Growing Your Own Tea Garden
• Everything you need to know to create a healthy, bountiful tea garden and enjoy high quality tea
• How to grow dozens of crops that make marvelous teas, herbal infusions and decoctions
• Sample tea garden designs, including instructions for growing tea in container gardens and raised beds
• Understanding the differences between black tea, green tea, white tea and herbal tea
• How to dry and store your leaves for consumption on cool autumn days
• Let it steep: how to brew the perfect cup of tea

#INSTAGETTY

I love growing herbs for tea. Not only do I enjoy the flavor of homegrown herbal tea, but herbs for tea are easy to grow, look stunning in flower or garden beds and smell amazing. Whether you have a single pot in a sunny window, a balcony planter or a large garden, I highly recommend you try growing herbs for tea.

Here are nine of my favorite herbs for tea. Over the summer, I’ll be posting more about harvesting, using and drying these herbs. If you’d like to follow along, Subscribe Now so you won’t miss a thing.

Giant Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum)

This tall purple beauty is probably my favorite tea herb. It’s gorgeous, easy to grow, attractive to pollinators and tastes delicious! As a native North American prairie species, it’s perfect for northern gardens as it is quite drought tolerant and will come back year after year despite long cold winters. While it does reseed itself and it is a member of the mint family, giant hyssop is not aggressively invasive, it’s easy to pull out if it’s where you don’t want it. I think you’ll love the light sweet black licorice flavor.

German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)

Chamomile is a must have for any tea garden. These dainty daisy like flowers grow on lacy, feathery leaves and have the power to soothe frayed nerves and upset tummies. It’s also a great sleepy time tea. The flavor is quite unique, a flowery apple flavor that your family will be able to identify anywhere after enjoying one or two cups. Read more about harvesting chamomile here.


Mint

Mint can be crazy invasive if not contained in the garden, but it makes such great tea that it’s totally worth growing it. The only question is what kind of mint to grow. Go to any reputable greenhouse and you’ll find an amazing variety of mint flavors, such as:

Peppermint – high amounts of menthol giving it that intense cool minty flavor
Spearmint – a sweeter less intense minty flavor, perfect for cooking (eg. Tabbouleh salad)
Chocolate Mint – truly tastes like chocolate mint wafers
Apple, Orange, Pineapple, Strawberry or Grapefruit Mint – some are more true to their name than others, great for iced teas
Mojito Mint – perfect for muddling into ice cold rum tea – aka Mojitos!

My top three favorites for hot tea are peppermint for soothing coughs and colds, spearmint for digestive issues, and chocolate mint for pure pleasure. The fruity varieties are excellent hot or cold. Try them all!

chocolate mint

Lemon Grass (Cymbopogon)

Use lemon grass as a tall grassy center piece in large planters. Not only does it look great, but when you rub it, you’ll get a lemony scent that is suppose to help deter mosquitoes. I’m not convinced about the mosquito repellent properties, but I love the flavor of lemon grass tea! I’ve never been able to grow thick stalks like the kind you buy to cook with, like in Thai cooking, but I get plenty of long grassy blades that are perfect for tea. It really does taste like lemon grass – the longer you steep it, the more pronounced it gets. I like mixing lemon grass with dried fruit for tasty herbal fruit tea combinations.

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)

Here’s another lemony flavored herb that’s great for tea making. But, be warned, it’s a member of the mint family, so it’s another aggressive perennial that spreads via seeds and runners. It’s best to restrain it in a container. Enjoy the refreshing lemony scent and flavor of this plant all summer long with repeated harvests. Hot or cold, fresh or dried, it makes great tea. Here’s an article on harvesting and drying lemon or lime balm.

Lemon Verbena (Aloysia citrodora)

You won’t believe the lemony scent from this woody herb. This perennial tropical shrub won’t survive anything cooler than Zone 8, so it may be a little more challenging to find in prairie garden centres – but if you do, pick one up and plan to keep it indoors over the winter. It grows quickly in our hot summers so you’ll enjoy multiple harvests. The strong lemony flavor can be used in place of lemon zest in baking, glazes, infused vinegar and in tea. Use it on its own or in a fruity herbal tea blend.

Borage (Borago officinalis)

With it’s incredibly stunning edible flowers and ability to attract pollinators borage is a must in any garden. The flowers and bristly leaves taste remarkably similar to cucumbers; as such, they’re perfect for making flavored water – just like at the spa. You can also use them in iced teas and lemonades. While we’ve never made hot tea with borage, it can be done. We also use chopped borage leaves and whole flowers in salads. The plant is quite bushy and floppy, about the size of a tomato plant. Borage is an annual that reseeds easily. Luckily, managing volunteer borage is very easy as they can be hoed or pulled easily.

Lemon Thyme (Thymus citriodorus)

Did you know that many savory herbs like rosemary, sage and parsley make excellent tea as well?! It’s true. Their flavor is perhaps a little too intense to serve as an afternoon tea, but they’re certainly drinkable and worth researching for their medicinal properties. Out of the culinary herbs I grow, I most enjoy lemon thyme as tea. Lemon thyme grows back every year (it may need replacing after 5 or more years), makes a beautiful ground cover, tastes great on fish, chicken or veggies AND it makes a lovely light lemony flavored tea. Can’t go wrong with adding lemon thyme to your garden.

Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana)

One final plant that makes my top list of tea herbs, and certainly there are many more herbs that can be made into tea, is stevia. It’s not that stevia makes a delicious tea on its own, it’s that it makes a fantastic sweetener for any tea. Stevia, also known as the sugar plant, is super sweet and just a tiny bit will sweeten an entire tea pot. I prefer using a tiny bit of dried, crumbled stevia leaves instead of fresh leaves for sweetening tea. Unlike store bought stevia powder which is white, homemade dried stevia is green and has a slight aftertaste. It’s worth a try, especially if you’re trying to cut back on sugar.

USING GARDEN HERBS FOR TEA

Fresh or Dried?

Personally, I prefer using dried herbs for tea. I find there’s more flavor when using dried herbs. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t use fresh herbs. In fact, if I have just a small handful of herbs, I’ll happily turn them into a cup of herbal tea.

When using fresh herbs the general rule of thumb is…

  • use three times more fresh herbs than dry to make tea
  • muddle fresh herbs for tea making (rub, bruise or crush them to allow flavor to escape)

Tips for Making Tea

When brewing garden herbs for tea there are some general guidelines. However, every batch of herbs will vary in terms of how much to use and how long to steep. You’ll have to experiment based on the following:

  • use boiling or near boiling water to get the best flavor from your herbs
  • use 1- 2 tsp of dried herbs per 1 cup of boiling water (1-3 Tbsp of fresh herbs)
  • steep, covered for at least 5 minutes

Blending Tea Mixes

One of my favorite things about homegrown herbal teas is mixing and creating my own blends. Simply mix and match whatever flavors you love best or try to create an overall theme – fruity, floral, woodsy, refreshing, soothing, etc. Think about some of the blends you’ve had elsewhere and try to recreate your own version.

Combine different herbs with ingredients like dried fruit, dried edible blossoms (calendula, violets, lavender, lilac, hibiscus, nasturtiums, red clover, roses, etc.), cinnamon sticks, dried ginger, toasted nuts or seeds, vanilla beans, citrus peel, cardamom seeds, star anise, etc. Use whole or bits of spices instead of powdered spices which are difficult to strain out and may leave a gritty sensation.

Consider the flavor and strength of each individual ingredient and add in amounts so that one won’t over power the other. For example mint and ginger are two strong flavors that work well together, whereas if you mix spearmint and apple mint, the apple flavor will likely get lost. The best way to discover what works is by testing and enjoying various batches. Once you discover something you like, write it down or make a big batch that you can store in a dark, airtight container and enjoy all winter long.

Here’s my apple rhubarb blend found in the Rhubarb Cookbook.

Cautions

All plants have properties in them that may cause allergies or undesirable side effects if taken in large doses. The herbs for tea mentioned in this article are intended to be enjoyed as an occasional cup of tea now and then. Anyone intending to consume more than an occasional cup for pleasure should do more research about each individual herb. This is particularly true for young children, pregnant women, anyone on medication or anyone with a chronic disease.

If you want to enjoy more of your garden herbs, try making tea with them. I think you’re really going to love it!

I would love to hear your experience with making your own herbal teas. Have you tried it? Do you have a favorite flavor? Or, if tea is not your thing, how do you enjoy using your herbs?

Getty Stewart is an engaging speaker and writer providing tasty recipes, time-saving tips, and helpful kitchen ideas to make home cooking easy and enjoyable. She is a Professional Home Economist, author of Manitoba’s best-selling Prairie Fruit Cookbook, Founder of Fruit Share, mom and veggie gardener.

Herbal teas smell good, taste good, and help elevate your mood, not to mention the other general as well as specific health benefits they offer. They make good alternatives to regular tea and coffee, especially if you want to reduce caffeine intake.

Herbal teas can be made with individual herbs or from a compatible combination of several herbs to take advantage of their varied healing effects. Although many herbal teas and tea mixes are readily available, there’s nothing like making your own from fresh ingredients. You can be certain exactly what goes into the mix, and be sure about the quality. You can also adjust the composition according to your needs.

Many herbs traditionally used for rejuvenating and healing teas can be easily grown in your garden, or even in containers. The very act of brewing an herbal tea is therapeutic, especially when you have just plucked the herb from your garden. Teas made from fresh herbs differ from what you get with dried herbs, although they may offer similar health benefits. Seasonal herbs can be dried and stored for later use, and they make great gifts.

1. Mints (Mentha spp.)

Mints need no introduction. You can grow several types for their distinctly different flavors or just stick to peppermint, the all time favorite. It also happens to have very high amounts of the primary active ingredient menthol.

Peppermint, spearmint, apple mint or pineapple mint, they all grow well almost anywhere as long as they get sufficient water. But you’re likely to have a problem of plenty if you allow them to spread on the ground. Keep them contained in pots. Their refreshing smell can be enjoyed anytime if you keep the pots close at hand. Use the mature leaves as well as the tender stem tips to make the tea.

Mint tea is cooling and refreshing; it helps improve digestion and reduces gas and associated heartburn. A cup of warm peppermint tea with a tablespoon of honey taken at night relieves a cough and ensures good sleep.

2. Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)

This herbaceous perennial closely related to mints, and similar in appearance, gets its common name from its lemony scent. The medicinal properties of this herb are well known.

Lemon balm tea has a calming effect on the nerves and is useful in relieving anxiety and restlessness. The herb is associated with a feeling of happiness and is regarded as an excellent natural remedy for irritability and hyperactivity in children, helping them settle down. When you have tension headaches or feel depressed, a cup of lemon balm tea can do wonders.

The menthol content in the herb makes it useful in treating digestive problems like flatulence and indigestion. Its strong antispasmodic properties help relieve colic pain and menstrual cramps. It has strong antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties that help with cold sores and respiratory tract infections.

Grow lemon balm in the garden or containers, but refrain from fertilizing this vigorous and rapidly spreading herb. Remember to prune it before it sets seed because it can take over the garden with self-seeding. Use fresh leaves for the tea or dry them in shade and use.

3. English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

This Mediterranean herb with fragrant lilac-blue flowers is a great addition to any herbal tea garden. Lavender fragrance is widely used in aromatherapy for its relaxing effect on the body and mind. Lavender tea also has a similar effect, and can be used to relieve anxiety and tension headaches. It can also be taken for gastrointestinal disturbances because it relaxes the smooth muscles of the stomach and intestinal walls, relieving the pain associated with indigestion.

Grow English lavender from nursery starts for best results. Plant them in well-drained soil in full sun to simulate the Mediterranean climate, and they usually thrive with minimum attention.

The flower buds are used to make the herbal tea. Collect the flower stalks when some of the buds start to open and then dry them in the shade.

4. Beebalm/Wild Bergamot (Monarda didyma, M. fistula)

This North American native is a perennial herb, as decorative as it is medicinal. It is often grown in ornamental gardens for its brightly colored flower bunches in red, purple and pink, which attract bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. But the herb can also make an excellent herbal tea.

Bee balm tea is used to treat colds, headaches, and mild fever. It has a mild stimulating effect, but it is mainly used for its diuretic and digestive properties. The tea is a powerful antiseptic, often used as a throat gargle to cure a sore throat and for washing of wounds and skin eruptions.

Grow bee balm in full sun or partial shade, giving it a relatively dry spot or a raised bed. Deadhead the blooms to promote bushy growth that will provide you with plenty of leaves for brewing the tea.

All aerial parts of bee balm can be used for making tea, but young leaves are preferred when they are fresh. Leaves stems, and flower heads can be dried and stored for use round the year.

5. German Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla)

Many herbs with daisy-like flowers go by the name chamomile, but the ones used most commonly in herbal preparations are German chamomile and Roman chamomile. Both have medicinal properties, but German chamomile tea is more popular as a calming drink, often used as a sleep aid.

Chamomile tea can be used to treat mouth ulcers, gastric ulcers, hay fever and other respiratory tract inflammations, menstrual cramps, and fibromyalgia. It can calm a cranky child whether it is the case of colic, nervous anxiety or attention deficit hyperactivity syndrome. Whenever you are disturbed or unable to sleep, a cup of chamomile tea can is a great go-to.

German chamomile is an annual, often found growing wild in dry areas. Raise it from seeds in spring and plant them in a partially shady spot. Once established, this plant thrives on neglect. Drought-like conditions produce the most flavorful herb.

The white flowers with prominent yellow centers are used for making the tea. When they are used fresh, you need a handful of flowers to make the tea, but only a tablespoon of dried flowers are required otherwise.

6. Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)

Thyme is a mint family member, but the volatile agent thymol is responsible for its distinctive smell. Thymol is a common ingredient in toothpaste and mouthwashes because it suppresses bacterial growth and bad breath.

Thyme tea is excellent for stomach problems, especially indigestion, intestinal worms, and gas. Thymol has powerful antimicrobial property against a wide variety of pathogens, including antibiotic-resistant superbugs like MRSA. It can be used to treat laryngitis, bronchitis, and other respiratory tract infections. Thyme tea mixed with raw honey gives quick relief from coughs and colds, including whooping cough. Use it as a throat gargle to cure strep throat and tonsillitis.

Grow thyme in the garden or containers, but it performs best in poor soil and dry conditions. Start new plants from cuttings or division of old clumps. Harvest thyme leaves along with the stems to make tea and dry the remaining.

Expand Your Herbal Tea Garden

Start your herbal tea garden with the most commonly used herbs above, but continue to add more variety as you develop your taste for this health promoting drinks.

7. Sage – This herb works much the same way as thyme. Use sage tea to treat a sore throat, cough, rheumatism and heavy menstrual flow. It is a liver and kidney tonic.

8. Ginger- The fresh or dried rhizome of this tropical herb can be added to herbal teas or regular tea to enhance their health benefits. Besides increasing the absorption of nutrients from the digestive tract, it relieves nausea and vomiting, clears the respiratory tract, and reduces inflammation.

9. Perilla – The aromatic leaves of both red and green perilla can be used to make shiso tea. It can relieve nausea and vomiting, persistent cough and a stuffy nose, allergy symptoms, and premature aging.

10. Lemon grass – The gentle, lemony tea made from this tropical grass helps relieve stomach aches, vomiting, muscle and joint pain, and coughing.

11. Stevia – Use this herb in any of your herbal teas to sweeten them without the use of refined sugar. Use fresh leaves or dried and powdered leaves.

12. Purple coneflower (Echinacea) – This North American perennial has a long history of medicinal use. Use Echinacea tea as a preventive against seasonal colds and flu, as well as for treating upper respiratory tract infections. It can relieve rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, vaginal infections, and urinary tract infections.

How To Make Herbal Teas

Herbal teas are easy to make since all you have to do is pour boiling water over the herbs and cover the vessel with the lid. Allow them to steep for 10-15 minutes when you use fresh herbs, and up to 20 minutes when dried parts are used. Filter out the clear tea into a cup and slowly sip it, savoring the unique flavor of the healing drink.

When you make herbal teas with fresh ingredients, pick them just when you need them. Wash under a running tap before transferring them to a jug or bowl. The container used for brewing herbal teas should have a well-fitting lid. You don’t want the volatile agents in the herbs to escape; they are responsible for most of their healing properties.

When you drink the tea warm, inhale the vapors to enjoy its distinctive aroma. Some of the substances in the herbs are directly absorbed into the blood through the mucous membrane lining the nostrils and the airways, bringing instant healing.

Store leftover tea in the refrigerator for a day or two, but it is always better to brew a fresh batch each day, especially when you have the herbs within reach.

A quick look around the internet will show you that when it comes to the word used to describe land where tea is grown, there is no consensus. You’ll see tea gardens, tea plantations, tea estates, tea plots, and so on. Is any one of these right or preferred?

A tea estate by any other name would be just as beautiful. (Yahoo! Images)

Official Definitions

A very official source is long-time dictionary compiler/publisher Merriam-Webster. Here is their take on what these three things are:

Garden — 1. a : a plot of ground where herbs, fruits, flowers, or vegetables are cultivated; b : a rich well-cultivated region; c : a container (as a window box) planted with usually a variety of small plants. 2. a : a public recreation area or park usually ornamented with plants and trees <a botanical garden>; b : an open-air eating or drinking place; c : a large hall for public entertainment.

Plantation — 1. a usually large group of plants and especially trees under cultivation. 2. a settlement in a new country or region <Plymouth Plantation>. 3. a : a place that is planted or under cultivation; b : an agricultural estate usually worked by resident labor.

Estate — 1. state, condition. 2. social standing or rank especially of a high order. 3. a social or political class; specifically : one of the great classes (as the nobility, the clergy, and the commons) formerly vested with distinct political powers. 4. a : the degree, quality, nature, and extent of one’s interest in land or other property; b (1) : possessions, property; especially : a person’s property in land and tenements <a man of small estate> (2) : the assets and liabilities left by a person at death; c : a landed property usually with a large house on it; d British : project. 5. British : station wagon. 6. farm, plantation; also : vineyard

Gee, that was helpful … not!

Let’s look at other factors that may determine which term is used when.

Who’s Using What

The thing that started me even wondering if there was any difference between a tea garden, a tea plantation, or a tea estate was when I was looking into teas grown in the U.S. There is a tea “plantation” in South Carolina and tea “gardens” in Hawaii, for example. In other countries such as India, they use “garden” and “estate” mainly. Nilgiri has many small tea “estates” that are 100 to 200 hectares and often run as family operations or small businesses. Assam has Mornai, Pertabghur, Hattigor, and a host of other tea “estates.” Darjeeling has numerous tea “estates” such as Soom, Mim, Arya, and Goomtee. The term “estate” is used in other tea producing countries such as Kenya and Uganda. Japan tends to use the term “garden” for theirs. The folks promoting tea tourism seem to make no differentiation between the three terms, using them interchangeably and according to what they think will appeal to potential visitors. Any rhyme or reason here seems to be a figment of the imagination.

The term “plantation tea” or Taidi Cha (台地茶) is basic quality, commonly produced tea, with the tea plants arranged in narrow rows and shaped to make them easier to harvest. And “tea garden” is used as often for the name of a restaurant as for an actual tea garden, as a simple online search reveals.

A Tea Garden by Any Other Name…

It would seem that the Bard was right when he said that “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Whether you call it a tea garden, a tea plantation, or a tea estate, it’s the tea grown there that counts.

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Tea garden

I can’t find a good explanation for why they are called gardens. However, I’ve just seen a tea plantation or estate, as we tend to call them in Britain, and can understand why they are called tea gardens in India.

Last weekend, I visited a tea garden in Assam, one of the main tea production areas. I was driven round the whole estate and saw the tea plants in their various stages of growth in preparation for picking the terminal bud and two leaves – the part used to make the tea. The terrain was mainly flat, and although it was still relatively early in the year, in several places the tea plants looked like a comfortable green carpet.

I’m interested in different types of agriculture because I was born on a farm. When I go to the countryside, I like seeing what sort of agriculture there is, and how it fits in with the landscape.

I hadn’t realised that while tea plants need a warm, damp climate, they don’t like having waterlogged roots. While they prefer tropical and sub-tropical climates, they like good drainage too. So many tea gardens are planted on gentle slopes including the tea garden I visited, and away from valley bottoms and other ground that can be prone to flooding.

Tea plants also don’t produce leaves so quickly in the hottest temperatures, so the bushes often have trees planted amongst them to provide some shade. The landscape of many tea gardens tends to be undulating to a lesser extent as in Assam, or very hilly as in Darjeeling, so that there is good run off for rain water. As a landscape, tea estates can indeed look wonderful and lush.

I’m lucky that Kolkata is the centre of the tea industry in India. When they’ve found out about my interest, owners have kindly invited me to visit their gardens. To avoid causing offence, I decided that for my first formal visit to a tea garden, I should visit one owned by a British company. Which is why I was visiting a garden owned by Goodricke, part of the Camellia group.

The visit was a delight. I was out of the metro city and in the calm and peaceful countryside. I toured both the garden and the tea factory on the estate where the leaves were processed – through the withering, cutting, drying and the sorting of the tea. I saw the various stages of life of a tea bush, and the various tasks to maintain the tea estate being carried out by the workers.

It all appeared idyllic, and on a sunny day, the garden certainly photographed well. But as a farmer’s son, I know it is very easy to romanticise rural life. The reality is that it can be tough working in all weathers, especially if you cannot always be sheltered from the worst.

Tea production is still very labour intensive. Despite profound changes in technology in the last 50 years or so, the essence of tea production is still to grow a tea bush from which workers can most efficiently pick the fresh buds and leaves. The tea garden I visited was large – over 900 hectares – and employed over 3,000 permanent and seasonal workers.

Therefore a major element of the job for the planters, the managers on tea estates, is to direct and manage the workforce. There seemed to be a strong sense of community amongst those who worked on the estate. However, this is not always the case, and there have been labour disputes and other difficulties on some tea estates which have been well documented.

The planters explained to me the rights of the pickers and other workers under the various Plantations Labour Acts, and of the two hospitals and school that the company provides for the workers. They also noted that their garden was certified under the Ethical Tea Partnership, an organisation that seeks to improve the lives of tea workers and their environment.

While tea is generally treated as a commodity, there are significant variations between different types and sources of tea. There is a premium for the sort of good quality tea that companies like Goodricke aim to produce. This requires skill and good quality control to produce such tea, and varieties that appeal to different consumers.

And you need patience in the tea business. As well as the right terrain, the plants prefer a slightly acidic soil. It can take two years of the production of other crops to prepare the ground to take a year-old sapling tea plant. It then takes four to five more years of growth and careful pruning before you have a bush ready to have tea leaves plucked from it.

When I have talked to planters in Assam and Kolkata, I have heard some of the same wisdom that I can recall from my childhood. That their livelihoods were always dependent on clement weather: produce too much and you can’t sell it (or the price falls too much that you make a loss). Produce not enough, and you won’t make any profit. They worried about where the next generations of planters and workers might come from, as younger people were nowadays more likely to seek work in towns and cities.

In Assam, we also talked about the various oddities of working in a tea garden. They had their own, unofficial time zone, known as “bagan time”, one hour in advance of Indian standard time. This made sense given that the sun rises a good hour earlier in Assam than in Delhi. They talked of wildlife – leopards are often found in tea gardens because they have cover that can conceal them and space to avoid the tea garden workers.

While I came away understanding that there is a good case for calling them tea gardens, I still feel that “garden” was something of a misnomer. Tea production is a business and market forces, as much as the weather, determine the price of tea. Like gardens, they are indeed a pleasure to visit, to enjoy the greenery, the open spaces and fresh air. But I appreciate that to get my cup of tea, I rely on the hard work of the tea picker and the skill and good management of the planter.

Grow Your Own Herbal Teas!

How do you like your tea? Hot with milk and honey? Iced with a little bit of lemon and sugar? Made only with the infusing powers of the sun? Whichever way you like to drink your tea, having your favorite herbs on hand is a sure way to create a delightful drink any time of year. And what better way to ensure a storehouse of wholesome herbal teas than to grow your own? Make a little extra room in your garden or a few flower pots and build your herbal tea garden with these easy tips.

Chamomile, one of the most popular tea herbs, is simple to grow and looks beautiful in a garden or window box. Its pretty daisy-looking flowers have a sweet apple-like aroma that is good for attracting bees. There are two main kinds of chamomile that folks grow. German chamomile, an annual that can grow up to two feet tall, and Roman chamomile, a perennial that grows to be about 4–12 inches tall. Because Roman chamomile grows out, rather than up, it makes an attractive and effective ground cover. Both varieties can be used for tea. Like many other herbs, chamomile loves full sunlight and prefers well-drained soil. Chamomile will grow just about anywhere but does not like very hot temperatures (above 98 degrees) for very long. If chamomile is prepared as an infusion, it can to help to calm the nerves and relieve stomach upsets. It can also be used to help relieve colic in small children. To use chamomile for tea, harvest the flowers early in the morning, when young and just opening. Deadhead often to promote constant blooms. If growing the perennial kind, cut it back in the fall to prevent woodiness next season and cover it with mulch to protect it from winter weather. To make tea, steep about 1 tablespoon of fresh flower heads — or 2 teaspoons, if dried — in one cup of boiling water. Steep the blossoms for five to ten minutes. Sip and relax!

Known as the “heart’s delight” in southern Europe, and used medicinally by the Greeks nearly 2,000 years ago, lemon balm makes a soothing hot tea or a cooling tea sweetened with honey. Lemon balm, like many other plants in the mint family, is easy to grow just about anywhere. Caution, though, lemon balm will spread! If you are planning to grow it in your own garden you may want to keep it contained in a small planter box or a pot buried in the ground. It can also grow in a pot aboveground. If growing in a pot, make sure to prune often so its leaf stock matches the rootstock. Lemon balm prefers full sun with some midday shade and grows well in moist soil. Lemon balm leaves can be harvested anytime, but the flavor tends to be best right when flowers begin to open. For a tea, infuse a few leaves in boiling water and let steep for 2-5 minutes. Cool tea and honey for sweetener (add honey when the tea is still hot). Similarly to chamomile, lemon balm helps calm the nerves and uplift the spirit. It is also used to provide relief from bronchial systems, colds, and headaches.

Lavender

An herb with a beautiful and fresh scent, lavender has a number of uses beyond herbal tea. It can be used an insect-repellent, added to bathwater, stitched into pillows and spread throughout a garden to create a lovely purple haze across the landscape. There are many varieties of lavender to choose from, the most popular being lavender officinalis and lavender spica. All lavender prefer similar growing conditions. A sunny open area for growing helps to discourage fungus and lets lavender grow tall freely. Your soil will need to be very well drained, perhaps even bordering on sandy. Some lime content also helps. Lavender can be grown in containers but tends to do better in a garden space. Seeds should be sown in late summer or autumn. You can divide and plant in the autumn, as well. To harvest, gather flowering stems just as the flowers begin to open. Leaves can be picked at any time. To make a tea, infuse about 2 tablespoons of fresh flowers —or 4 teaspoons dried—into boiling water and steep 2- 5minutes. Lavender tea is helpful for soothing headaches, calming nerves, and for preventing fainting and dizziness.

For some delicious herbal tea recipes see below:

Homemade Herbal Tea Recipes

Ingredients:
4 tablespoons fresh chamomile
3 cups boiling water
1 cup pomegranate juice
1/3 cup sugar or less for honey

Directions:
Place tea bags in a large heat-proof measuring cup or pitcher; pour boiling water over tea bags. Steep 1 hour, or until cooled to room temperature. Remove and discard chamomile. Add pomegranate juice and sugar or honey to taste, stirring until it dissolves. Serve over ice; garnish with mint sprigs.

Lavender Lemon Balm Iced Tea

Ingredients:
2 cups boiling water
1 teaspoon dried lavender flowers
1 teaspoon dried lemon balm leaves or 1 tablespoon fresh leaves
Honey to taste

Directions:
Pour water over herbs steep for 3-5 minutes then strain. Sweeten with honey. Chill and serve over ice with fresh lemon and a sprig of lavender.

Grow Your Own Herbal Tea Garden

As far as trends go, tea has some serious staying power. Across cultures, we’ve been obsessed with the stuff for centuries, whether as part of a formal ritual, a comforting sick-day elixir, or an icy reward after a hard day’s work tending the yard. It’s even better when the blend comes from your own homegrown herbs and edible flowers. To get going, Bay Area landscape designer Stefani Bittner suggests planting no-fuss varieties (many of which bring in pollinators and add colorful texture to any plot), learning a few special maintenance tips, and always harvesting for peak flavor. Most important, says Bittner, is to go organic—after all, you don’t want harsh chemical pesticides and fertilizers to end up in your brew. We’ve also come up with three foolproof and delicious recipe ideas that you can think of as starting points in planning your garden and creating your version of the perfect cup. From there, no drying or fancy equipment is needed to get sipping; a teapot or French press will do just fine. Or try an age-old brew method that requires nothing but sunshine.

Build a Tea Garden Base

For low-stress growing, start with these three resilient plants available at Morningsun Herb Farm.

  • Chamomile. Annual with cheerful daisy-like flowers; a bedtime favorite.
  • Anise hyssop. Hardy perennial with fragrant spikes of purple blossoms; hummingbirds will visit as much as you do.
  • Lemon verbena. Sprawling, aromatic peren­nial; plant one and cut back often to keep its size in check.

Classic Flavors

Once you get your tea garden going, consider adding these herbs and flowers to match your ideal scent and taste. Just grow, trim, and steep—you’ll be enjoying your perfect cup in no time.

  • Citrus: Lemon grass, lemon verbena, ‘Lemon Meringue’ scented geranium
  • Mint: Calamint, ‘Petite ­Delight’ bee balm
  • Earl Grey: Lemon bergamot (Monarda citriodora)
  • Licorice: Anise hyssop
  • Herbal: ‘Berggarten’ sage, marjoram, thyme
  • Floral: Chamomile, lavender, rose

Loveall’s Hot Pot

How to Grow

  • Set in full or ­partial sun in well-­draining soil.
  • For a design that’s easy on the eyes and to make harvesting a breeze, stagger tallest to shortest varieties from back to front. Tight plantings are okay; you’ll just need to prune and pick more often.
  • Don’t worry, apartment dwellers: Pots and containers work just as well as in-ground beds.
  • Give consistent water.

Harvest Tips

Avoid a bitter taste and wilting by picking in early morning instead of during or after a full day of heat and sun. Dip cuttings into cold water to remove dirt and critters, then dry. Keep cuttings fresh in a vase of water and use within five to seven hours.

Tea Recipes

Loveall’s Hot Pot

Inspired by Rose Loveall, Bittner’s friend and owner of Morningsun Herb Farm in Vacaville, California, this soothing citrus-flavored brew substitutes sugar with a sweet treat from the yard, such as plum, apricot, or aprium.

1. Harvest equal amounts lemon ver­bena leaves and petals of rose and ­calendula. Immerse in water to rinse well; drain and pat dry.

2. Loosely pack leaves, petals, and plum slices (add more fruit for sweeter flavor) to the built-in strainer inside a teapot, filling just over halfway. Add hot but not scalding water; let steep for 15 to 25 minutes to preferred strength. Serve immediately.

Sun Tea

They take an entire day to brew, but sun teas are well worth the wait. This light and refreshing tea is flexible, so, don’t sweat exact quantities and ingredients. Experiment with different ­varieties growing in your garden, especially anything that needs a heavy pruning.

1. Harvest large bundles, including stems, foliage, and flowers. You can balance herbal flavors with floral, fruity, and minty notes, but mix and match as you see fit. (See “Classic ­Flavors” at left for choices to suit ­every palate.)

2. Immerse cuttings in water to rinse well; drain and pat dry. Fill a large glass jar with ingredients, add tepid water to brim, and cover. Set outside in a sunny spot for 8 hours. Strain liquid through a fine-mesh sieve into a pitcher, then pour into ice-filled glasses or refrigerate to chill for later use. Top with a scented geranium leaf or edible flower petals.

Day’s End Treat

Day’s-End Treat

With a subtle licorice flavor that’s sweet on its own, anise hyssop is the star of this rejuvenating iced tea—there’s no need for any additional ingredients. Use a French press for best results; the plunging action gently grates the foliage and releases deliciously aromatic essential oils.

1. Harvest anise hyssop stems, leaves, and flower spikes. Immerse in water to rinse well; drain and pat dry.

2. Fill a French press with all harvested parts of the plant. Add hot but not scalding water and let steep for 10 to 15 minutes. Pour into ice-filled glasses and top with fresh anise hyssop flowers and smaller leaves.

Produced by Homestead Design Collective.

Why not make a change from your usual cup of store-bought coffee or tea and try your own homegrown herbal brew? Most herbs are easy to grow and don’t need to take up a lot of space. If you have room, you can place the containers in this design in a bed surrounded by low creeping herbs, or they can stand alone on a sunny deck or patio (with the creeping herbs planted between the paving stones). The central container shown here is about 24 inches in diameter, the side pots are 12 inches in diameter. All the plants thrive in full sun, with average, very well-drained soil. The containers must have drainage holes so they don’t become waterlogged. Harvest your “crop” regularly, thus keeping the plants cut back, so they remain bushy and compact and don’t overpower their neighbors. Apply a liquid balanced fertilizer at half strength monthly. Mix and match the herbs to suit your taste. In cold regions, overwinter tender plants indoors in a sunny window.

Click here to download and print out this garden plan

Key to Plan

1. Wild strawberry (Fragaria vesca) 12 plants, planted 8 inches apart; 8 to 10 inches tall; 3-parted fan-shaped leaves; small white flowers followed by pea-sized seedy fruits. The leaves make a fruity tea; can be combined with sweet woodruff.”]

Key to Plan

1. Wild strawberry (Fragaria vesca) 12 plants, planted 8 inches apart; 8 to 10 inches tall; 3-parted fan-shaped leaves; small white flowers followed by pea-sized seedy fruits. The leaves make a fruity tea; can be combined with sweet woodruff. Zones 4 to 8.
2. Variegated common thyme (Thymus vulgaris ‘Silver Queen’) 5 plants planted 18 inches apart; 6 to 10 inches tall; tiny leaves edged with silver; pale mauve flowers. Brew the leaves for a spicy, pungent tea. Zones 5 to 8.
3. Sweet woodruff (Galium odoratum) 8 plants planted 12 inches apart; 6 to 12 inches tall; starry whorls of foliage; in May topped with clusters of tiny white flowers. Its dried leaves make a mild, woodsy tea; excellent combined with strawberry leaves. Zones 3 to 9.
4. German chamomile (Matricaria recutita) 8 plants planted 12 inches apart; 12 to 24 inches tall; fine, ferny foliage. White daisy flowerheads are used for a mild, relaxing, applelike tea. Zones 4 to 8.
5. Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis ‘Aurea’) 1 plant; 12 to 24 inches tall; hardy perennial with yellow-variegated, mintlike foliage; prune regularly. Lemon-scented leaves make a refreshing hot or iced tea. Zones 4 to 9.
6. Pineapple mint (Mentha suaveolens ‘Variegata’) 1 plant, 12 to 24 inches tall; wrinkled, woolly leaves rimmed in cream. Not as robust as some other mints. Fragrant pineapple tea is delicious hot or cold. Zones 7 to 9.
7. Curly spearmint (Mentha spicata ‘Crispa’) 1 plant; 12 to 24 inches tall; bright green foliage with crinkled edges. The leaves make a pungent, minty tea often used to aid digestion. Zones 4 to 9.
8. Peppermint (Mentha x piperita) 1 plant; 2 feet tall; square stems clothed with opposite, toothed, lance-shaped leaves; clusters of mauve flowers along the stem. Brew leaves to make a refreshing tea that’s soothing to the digestive system. Zones 4 to 9.
9. Pineapple sage (Salvia elegans) 1 plant; 36 inches tall; pineapple-scented bright green foliage; loose spikes of two-lipped scarlet flowers in fall. Leaves make a pineapple/melon-flavored tea. Zones 8 to 10.
10. Purple basil (Ocimum basilicum ‘Purple Ruffles’) 1 plant; 18 to 24 inches tall; purple-black leaves; clusters of pink flowers in a loose spike. Keep pinched for bushiness. Leaves and flowers make an attractive pinkish tea with mild peppery clove overtones. Annual.
11. Creeping rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Prostratus’) 1 plant; 6 to 12 inches tall, trailing; gray-green needlelike leaves and pale blue flowers. Use either flowers or leaves to make a piney tea. Zones 8 to 10.
12. Chocolate mint geranium (Pelargonium tomentosum ‘Chocolate Mint’) 1 plant; 12 inches tall; velvety gray-green leaves marked with chocolate; small white flowers. A minty tea is made from the foliage. Zones 10 to 11.
13. Pot marigold (Calendula officinalis) 2 plants planted singly; 18 inches tall; clammy foliage topped by bright orange daisies. Petals or whole flowers make a slightly bitter tea. Annual.
14. Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) 1 plant; 12 to 24 inches tall; aromatic gray-green leaves topped with long-stemmed spikes of purple flowers. Flowers make a delicious pale green tea with mild floral overtones. Zones 5 to 8.
15. Golden lemon thyme (Thymus x citriodorus ‘Aurea’) 1 plant; trailing, 6 to 8 inches tall; pungent, small, gold-rimmed leaves and tiny pinkish flowers. Leaves make a spicy tea.

Click here to download and print out this garden plan

Garden plans courtesy of Country Living Gardener.

3 Herbal Tea Gardens for Health and Well-Being

Teas to soothe, teas to relieve, teas to rejuvenate—Herbal Tea Gardens (Storey Publishing, 1999) contains everything you need to know to grow, blend and brew healthful and delicious herbal teas. You’ll find more than 100 tea recipes, as well as 22 illustrated garden plans. Design one of these three herbal tea gardens, and brew teas that remedy minor aches and pains. This excerpt is taken from chapter 4, “Designing a Garden for Your Special Health Needs.”

You can purchase this book from the Mother Earth Living store: Herbal Tea Gardens.

Many of us suffer from minor ailments that can be treated with herbal teas. Whether you have arthritis, chronic headaches, or the occasional cuts and scrapes, this article contains suggestions for gardens you can grow to suit your special health needs. Also included are recipes for tea that will treat some of these problems. Growing a garden full of relaxing herbs, cold-fighting herbs, or pain relieving herbs will not only allow you to enjoy gardening, but also will be a ready source of natural remedies whenever you need them.

3 Healing Garden Plans

• Relaxation Garden Plan
• Women’s Care Garden Plan
• Tonic Garden Plan

-Advertisement-

Tips for Healing Tea Gardens

Everyone has seen gardens containing special patterns and combinations of plants. Most gardens are designed to either look lovely or create a space for growing needed plants. The garden plans in this article, however, are designed to be both beautiful and functional. Plus, the mingling scents, blending colors, and shape of the garden itself are wonderful sources of pleasure. Try pulling up a chair and drinking herbal teas in your garden and you’ll have a delightful experience made divine.

In order to grow a specialty garden, you first must determine how much space and time you have for a garden. If you have lots of land and plenty of spare time, a large plot garden will be a great source of enjoyment and herbs for your teas. But don’t despair if you don’t have the space for some of these garden designs; you can select just a few of the smaller herbs from each category and plant them in containers. There are many ways to grow the herbs you need while creating an aesthetically appealing garden design, so let your imagination run wild as you customize your own garden plans.

From the Relaxation Garden to the Women’s Care Garden, in this article you will find an herbal tea garden plan that will help enhance your health and well-being. You can grow one or more of the gardens, or perhaps several plants from a selection of gardens.

Excerpted from Herbal Tea Gardens © Marietta Marshall Marcin, illustrations © Laura Tedeschi used with permission from Storey Publishing. Buy this book from our store: Herbal Tea Gardens.

How to Grow Your Own Herbal Tea

Have you ever wondered how to grow your own tea to enjoy? Well, it’s easier than you think. Herbal tea has been used for centuries as an at-home remedy for common ailments, such as headaches, stress, bloating, nausea. Some studies show that drinking tea reduces the risk of cancer.

People go crazy for their cup of tea, and we don’t blame them. Sure, you can buy tea packets at the store, but by growing and making your own tea, you save money and know exactly where your ingredients come from (your backyard). We’ve got the ultimate guide for you—from planting your herbal tea garden to enjoying your homemade tea!

Herbal Tea 101

Image zoom

The best part about growing your own herbal tea is that herbs are so easy to work with. Once harvested, they simply need to be dried then enjoyed. (Some teas, like green, oolong, white, and black, require a more complicated process that involves a chemical reaction called oxidation, which unlocks the flavors.) Your herbal tea garden will be filled with a variety of the best herbs, each with their own intense flavor.

Benefits

Each herbal tea plant has known benefits and short-term cures. Chamomile helps you during restless nights, peppermint relieves bloating, ginger curbs nausea, and lemon balm helps when stress is out of control.

Varieties

  • Peppermint
  • Lavender
  • Lemon verbena
  • Chamomile
  • Jasmine
  • Ginger
  • Hibiscus
  • Sage
  • Lemon Thyme
  • English Thyme
  • Parsley
  • Elder
  • Lemon Balm

Herbal Tea Garden Plan

Image zoom

Each herbal tea plant has different needs. Although you can grow your herbal tea garden in the ground or in containers, plants with similar care needs should grow together. See BH&G’s Plant Encyclopedia for information on each plant’s habits to ensure the best results.

Need some help getting started? Here’s your guide! Use this herbal tea garden plan as your map to a delicious cup of tea.

1 Peppermint (18″ X 14″ pot)

2 Spearmint (18″ X 14″ pot)

3 Lemon Balm (18″ X 14″ pot)

A | 3 Lemon Thyme

B | 3 English Thyme

C | 4 Parsley

D | 1 Lemon Verbena

E | 6-9 Dill

F | 6-7 Sweet Basil

G | 5 Lavender

H | 3-4 Lemon Basil

I | 1-2 Borage

J | 6-8 German Chamomile

K | 3-4 French Thyme

L | 2 Mother of Thyme

Harvesting Herbs

Image zoom

Each herb has a specific harvesting process to get the result you want and to maximize the flavor profile. The key to keeping your herbs at their best is to harvest your garden frequently. Harvesting herbs from your garden is simpler than you think. It’s like getting a regular haircut: Trim the dead stuff off to make room for healthy ones to grow.

Chamomile

Chamomile is one of the most popular and easiest herbs to grow for a great cup of tea. The perfect time to harvest this hardy plant is in the early morning after dew has dried. Carefully pinch bloomed flower heads off the chamomile plant. The full flower will be what gives your tea flavor!

Elder

The elder is the easiest of all to harvest. No cutting needed. Simply shake the plant so the buds fall into a bowl. Wash and let dry!

Ginger

Although ginger is not an herb, it provides as much flavor as one. After about 4 to 6 months of patience, your ginger should be ready to dig up. Dig up the mass of the roots, or the rhizomes, to flavor your tea (and other dishes, like these to-die-for ginger cookies).

Hibiscus

Hibiscus is another example of a nonherb often used in teas for its wonderful flavor. Like chamomile, the hibiscus flower head is used to flavor your tea, so carefully pick off the flower. Be sure to use the flower quickly, though. The blooms will likely shrivel up in 1-2 days.

Jasmine

Jasmine is a tea is as sweet as they come. It’s time to harvest these beauties when buds are fully formed, but not open. Prune off parts of the plant loaded with leaves and flowers. To preserve freshness, place stems in water after picking.

Lavender

Lavender is your go-to herb for sweet, relaxing aromas. When the lavender flowers bloom, it’s time to harvest. Cut the lavender stems 2 inches above the woody growth, starting with the first blooming buds for the best results.

Lemon & English Thyme

This herb is laid-back and as low-maintenance as they come. Thyme can be harvested whenever spontaneity strikes during its growing cycle. For potent flavor, pick in the morning. Just like sage, you can either prune the whole stem or pinch off leaves at the stem.

Lemon Balm

Harvest in late spring or early summer, right before the blossoms set. Cut the stems about 2 inches from the ground. Make sure not to cut off too much. Cut stems above where lower leaves have formed—we don’t want to cut off the entire plant’s supply. Looking for just a little lemon flavor in your tea? Cut right below a leaf.

Lemon Verbena

Lemon Verbena generates new foliage quickly after a full harvest. The best leaves to pick from lemon verbena are the ones surrounding the white flowers. The prime flavor is in these leaves. Cut the stems to within 1/4 inch of the leaf. If the plant becomes too big for your space, trim the entire plant back to a fourth of its current size.

Peppermint

Refresh your senses with some peppermint in your tea. Before the plant starts to flower, cut off the stems about 1 inch from the ground. If you only need a little flavor in your cup, pinch off a peppermint leaf or two, making the cut right before another leaf.

Sage

Every two months or so, sage is ready for some harvesting. Sage grows fairly vigorously, so you’ll have no problem getting your fill of this herb throughout the season. Clip leaves six to eight inches from the top of the plant. Doing so stimulates new growth. You can cut the entire stem or pinch off the leaves—whatever your herbal heart desires!

Parsley

One of the most well-known herbs, parsley is a great choice for your herbal tea. Although a little more complicated to pick, it will provide a kick of flavor to your cup of tea. For the most flavor, cut parsley when the stems have at least three segments of leaves.

Have other tea plants and flowers you want to brew from your herbal tea garden? Check out our Plant Encyclopedia for more information on your specific tea plant.

Drying Herbs

Image zoom

This part of the process is the most critical for tea that tastes like you want. After snipping off your plant’s goods, air-dry the herbs. Tie a piece of string to the stem (if attached). Hang your herb bunch upside down in a dark, dry area in your home (avoid the kitchen if you can; a basement or attic works). Wait for herbs to dry, about a week. These herbs should stay potent for 6 to 12 months. If no stem is attached, lay herbs on wax paper for the same time.

Enjoying a Cup of Tea

Image zoom

At last! Your tea plant is ready to enjoy. There are a couple different ways to prepare your tea. The most common methods are to brew loose-leaf tea or tea in a bag. (Using a tea bag is the most common way, but loose leaf is gaining in popularity.) Both allow the tea to flavor the water without letting leaves or flowers into the water.

For loose-leaf tea:

  1. Measure one spoonful of loose herb leaves.
  2. Place your herbs in a small pot and add desired amount of hot water.
  3. Let herbs steep for 3 to 5 minutes.
  4. Pour the liquid into your teacup through an infuser or strainer.
  5. Discard the used herbs. Enjoy your tea!

To make your own tea bag:

  1. Cut a 3- to 4-inch square of 100-percent-cotton cheesecloth.
  2. Place dried herbs onto the cloth.
  3. Bring up all corners of the cloth and tie with a string.
  4. Place your tea bag in a cup, add hot water, steep for 3 to 5 minutes, and enjoy.
  • By Abby Patterson

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *