Herbs to make tea

Herbal tea is easy to make: put a handful of fresh herbs (about ¼ cup) per cup of tea into a pot. Pour boiling water over the herbs, cover, and steep for three to five minutes.

Mint and chamomile are the most common herb teas, but you can brew tea from almost any garden herb.

Herb teas are soothing and often health-giving. They contain virtually none of the caffeine found in coffee.

Herbal tea is easy to make: put a handful of fresh herbs (about ¼ cup) per cup of tea into a pot. Pour boiling water over the herbs, cover, and steep for three to five minutes. Strain before serving. (It’s always good to preheat the pot and the serving cup with hot water; this will ensure a cup of hot tea at serving.)

You can also make herbal tea with dried herbs: use just 1 teaspoon of herbs for each cup.

For iced drinks, brew the tea at double strength.

You can vary the amount of herbs and the brewing time according to your taste.

Tisanes are herbal infusions. The word tisane comes from the Greek for medicinal brew. Herbal tisanes are made in much the same way as herbal teas but usually in smaller quantities. Use 1 ounce of fresh herbs or ½ ounce dried herbs for every 2½ cups boiling water.

Lemon juice and honey have an affinity for many hot herbal teas and tisanes.

Contents

Herbs to use for teas or tisanes:

  • Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum). Licorice-tasting blossoms and leaves. Perennial.
  • Bee Balm (Monarda didyma). Mildly-citrus flavored. Use dried leaves. Perennial.
  • Chamomile (Matricaria recutita). Mellow grassy flavor and fragrant. Good for the digestive system and calms nerves. Annual.
  • Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia). Use blossoms for steeping. Soothing and relaxing. Shrub.
  • Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis). Tastes like mint plus citrus. Used to calm the nerves and also aids digestion. Use leaves fresh and dried. Perennial.
  • Lemon Verbena (Aloysia triphylla). Intense flavor and very fragrant. Use leaves fresh and dry. Shrub.
  • Mint ( Mentha species). Nearly 200 varieties. Use fresh and dried leaves. Aids digestion. Spearmint and peppermint tea are revitalizing. The menthol in hot peppermint tea is useful in clearing head colds. Perennial.
  • Rosemary (Romarinus officinalis). Strongly flavored; stimulates circulation and ease migraines. Use leaves and sprigs. Shrub.
  • Sage (Salvia species ). Mild, musky, camphorous, with spiciness. Soothes sore throats. Perennial.
  • Thyme, lemon (Thymus citriodorus ). Sweeten with honey to ease coughs. Perennial.

More tips at How to Start an Herb Garden.

Best Herbs for Container Growing

Many useful culinary herbs grow well in containers. Basil, chives, cilantro, dill, common and Florence fennel, garlic, lemon balm, mint, oregano and marjoram, parsley, rosemary, sage, French tarragon, and thyme are excellent choices for container growing. Continue reading>>>

Herbs With Edible Flowers

Many herbs have edible flowers than can be used as a colorful garnish for salads and for both sweet and savory dishes. Add herb flowers to delicate salads and salad herbs such as lamb’s lettuce and chervil. Continue reading>>>

How to Make Herb Flavored Vinegars

Add herbs to wine or cider vinegar to make herb-flavored vinegar. Basil, chervil, chives, dill, garlic, marjoram, mint, rosemary, sage, and tarragon are ten common herbs well-suited for making flavored vinegars. Continue reading >>>

  • Flowering notes. The basic blend includes flowery notes of some sort. Common options include violet flowers, chamomile flowers, dandelion petals, calendula petals, or wild rose petals. Add one part of this herb.
  • Placeholder flavor. After adding the flowers (fresh or dried), add a place-holding flavor. This will be the flavor that ties everything together and keeps an iced tea tasting strong enough to withstand a few ice cubes melting into it. Dried red raspberry leaves or dried nettles work well here. Add two parts of these herbs.
  • Fruity component. Next, a fruity or naturally sweet component is nice. Dried rosehips are a common choice here. These are sold in many herb shops or health food stores if you have not harvested your own. Another option here is hibiscus flowers, which are not only sweet and lemony flavored but also impart a rich, red color to your teas. Add one part of these herbs.
  • Cooling herb. Especially for summer iced tea, a cooling herb is an ideal final ingredient. Mint is usually most common here. Neem is another example. You can add any combination or variety of available mint herbs you have. Another naturally cooing herb that works well to round out your blend is borage—the leaves or flowers (or both) can be used. Add one part cooling herbs to finish your recipe.

1. Lavender

Maybe you’ve never thought to make lavender tea but its floral taste is amazing. A delicious cup of herbal tea you can make from lavender flowers that is sweet and fragrant in taste and is perfect for calming your mind, particularly recommended to reduce tension and alleviate headache.

Lavender grows well in full sun, in well drained soil.

Also Read: How to Grow Lavender Plants

2. Lemon Verbena

Lemon verbena leaves are used to make tea. Consumption of its tea improves digestion, joint pain and helps in asthma.

Refreshing and sour, this lemon flavored plant is easy to grow. It needs full sun to thrive and doesn’t tolerate severe winters. Below 14 F (-10 C) the plant dies. It’s more suitable for subtropical and tropical climate, although you can grow lemon verbena in cold climate, but in containers.

3. Mint

Mint is a most favorite tea herb and popular among herbal tea lovers, it’s also one of the easiest plants to grow. Mint tea fights with digestive disorders, abdominal pain and stomach cramps. Besides this, it stimulates the appetite, reduces flatulence and is very refreshing in flavor.

Mint is very robust plant and can even get out of hand in the garden if you don’t care to stop it. It grows in moist soil in full to partial sun.

Also Read: How to Control Invasive Plants

4. Lemon Balm

Lemon balm plant is closely related to mint, but has a distinct lemon flavor. It gives flavor to herbal teas and ice creams and appears to be a useful fragrant herb in the kitchens.

Lemon balm grows well in dry soil and partial shade. If grown outside it dies in winter but regrow again in spring. Lemon balm spreads vigorously if grown in garden beds so it’s better to grow it in a confined space or in a container.

5. Ginger

Ginger tea is popular, especially in South and East Asia. Its roots and leaves can be used to make tea. Use of ginger tea is praised in ancient Chinese medicines and Ayurveda, it’s an antioxidant and contains antibacterial properties. It cures diseases like cold, flu, nausea and improves digestion and appetite.

Ginger is such an easy to grow and forget it plant that you’ll definitely like to grow. It is hardy in USDA zones 9 – 12 and grows best in filtered sunlight and moist soil in a spot that is less windy.

6. Thyme

Thyme is an effective herbal tea ingredient that calms stomach problems and sore throat. Use its leaves to prepare tea, if there are flowers, add them too.

Thyme grows well in full sun but also tolerate partial sun and is an ideal herb that is very low maintenance.

7. Chamomile

Beautiful daisy like flowers that smells mildly fruity like an apple, chamomile is a useful medicinal tea herb. It’s traditionally used to induce calm and sleep. You can prepare its tea with small white and yellow flowers rather than the leaves. There are two kinds of chamomile (German and Roman), Roman chamomile offers strong flavored tea.

Chamomile likes sandy soil and lots of sun and it needs a lot of water during the summer. It’s hardy under USDA Zones 4 – 9.

8. Jasmine

Jasmine flowers are suitable to make tea, for this you need to pick some fresh flowers. Dry and mix them with green tea, you can also steep them alone to make jasmine tea.

Jasmine vine thrives in full sun and needs a trellis or a support to climb. It’s not suitable for harsh winter climates, so if you want to grow it, grow it in container that can be moved inside.

9. Stevia

Stevia leaves are sweet and can be steeped to make tea. It’s a safe and natural sweetener, used in place of sugar in an infusion and good for diabetics.

Stevia grows in USDA Zones 9 to 11, it doesn’t tolerate cold. Still, you can grow it in more colder zones in a pot so that it can be brought inside when winter comes.

10. Marjoram

This culinary herb has a fruity and sour flavor with a hint of mint. Marjoram tea cures various digestion and stomach problems including poor appetite, liver disease, gallstones, intestinal gas, and stomach cramps.

It grows well in full sun but can tolerate light shade, it needs loose and well drained soil.

11. Cilantro

Commonly used for cooking, cilantro is also suitable for tea. Its tea resembles aroma similar to Lady Gray tea. Mix honey in it to soothe the acidity and constipation. It also clears toxins from the body and prevents indigestion.

It grows in both the sun and partial shade and is an ideal herb for pots. Cilantro grows diversely as annual herb in almost any climate, it can be grown under USDA Zones 3 – 11.

12. Rosemary

Rosemary tea improves digestion, promotes cognitive function and acts as an antioxidant, protecting the body from heart disease and cancer.

Rosemary plant prefers full sun, light and well drained soil.

13. Fennel

Fennel seeds are used to prepare its tea. Fennel tea is very beneficial for digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome, bloating and flatulence.

Fennel grows in USDA zones 4 to 10 in moist and fertile soil in full to partial sun.

14. St. John’s wort

It is a very effective remedy against nervous disorders: insomnia, depression, anxiety etc. However, it also has some side effects.

It grows very easily without special care. It can be grown on the ground or in pots.
To learn how to grow St John’s wort read this.

15. Sage

The antiseptic tonic of sage enables to provide an effective remedy for ailments as varied as: mouth ulcer and sore throat. Sage tea also helps in depression and Alzheimer. Take 1 tablespoon fresh sage leaves and 1 tablespoon dried sage leaves and steep it for 3 – 5 minutes in boiling water. Strain it and mix honey in it for taste. Your sage tea is ready.

It can be grown either in the ground or in pots. If grown in pots it’s important to water sage regularly.

16. Viola tricolor

Often referred as wild pansy, it’s a common European flower that grows wild as a short lived perennial. Viola tricolor is known for its medicinal properties. It contains flavonoids, saponins, anthocyanins, carotenoids that helps in fighting myriads of human diseases like cancer, various skin diseases, allergies and sore throat. You can use whole plant to make tea.

Also called as heartsease, viola tricolor grows in partial shade in slightly acidic to neutral soil. It’s hardy in USDA zones 3 to 9

17. Basil

Basil especially holy basil or ‘tulsi’ is best to make basil tea, you can also add honey and ginger in it. Other varieties of basil are also used. Basil is stress reliever and if used with honey and ginger it helps in asthma and cough, cold and influenza. Consumption of basil tea lowers the blood sugar level and helps in heart diseases. Basil tea is also a good cure of mouth problems and bad breath.

Holy Basil loves warm exhibition, it’s a tropical plant, hardy in USDA Zones 10, 11 and grows best when temperature stays around 70 – 86 F (20 – 30 C).

18. Catnip

Mildly sedative and calming, catnip tea is excellent treat after an exhausting day. It helps in digestive disorder like diarrhea, relieves headache and insomnia and if you’re going through nicotine withdrawal, it alleviates the stress. Both the leaves and flowers are used to prepare tea.

If you know how to save your catnip plant from cats for your use growing it is easy. It’s hardy in USDA Zones 3 – 8 and prefers well drained soil that is sandy, although catnip grows in variety of soil types. Keep your plant in full to partial sun.

19. Lemon Grass

Lemon grass (Cymbopogon citratus) is used to make herbal tea, in soups and other dishes. This lemony scented tea herb also repels pests like white flies away from garden.

Grow lemongrass in warm and sunny spot and do regular watering. Lemongrass is hardy in USDA Zones 9 – 11, however if you like to grow it in colder climate you can grow it in a pot and bring that indoors or in a greenhouse in winter.

Also Read: How to make moringa tea

Tips and Warnings

  • There are several herbs and flowers that are suitable for making teas. Your choice depends on which flavor you like most and what will grow best for you according to your climate and space you have.
  • Either use these herbs fresh or air dry them and preserve to make healthy and aromatic herbal teas.
  • Don’t remove too many leaves at once, you might kill your plant. Cultivate more plants of all or any herb that you frequently use.
  • Don’t use chemical pesticides and insect repellents on your tea herbs.

Herbal teas in a bag can taste musty to me, but teas made with fresh herbs have a bright garden greenness that I love. This summer I’ve been enjoying fresh mint, always a tongue-tingling delight, as well as lemongrass and lemon verbena. I adore my black tea in the morning, but in the evenings a fresh herbal tea is just right.

I also appreciate the subtle health benefits of fresh herb teas. USDA researchers have found that herbs are more dense with antioxidants than fruits and vegetables, so drinking a fresh herbal infusion, a long-held tradition in many cultures, seems like a smart idea. I also love the aromatherapy of it – something about the green fragrance of herbal teas makes me want to breathe in more deeply than with my regular cuppa.

For those of us used to commercial-strength teas, herbal teas, technically known as tisanes, can take some recalibration of taste buds. Adding a generous amount of fresh herbs to green or black teas is an happy middle ground. In Morocco, a sweetened green tea and fresh mint combination is a staple of daily life. My mom makes a wonderful green tea and fresh lemongrass brew.

Combining herbs can also make for a more interesting drink. Elise from Simply Recipes writes about having lemon verbena and fresh mint tea at the Chez Panisse Cafe. Ginger and mint is also a stimulating opposites-attract mixture of hot and cool.

I also like the simplicity of a single herb. Fresh mint is the ultimate for me, with a touch of sugar. Fresh ginger tea always transports me to Bali, where I spent my honeymoon enjoying fresh limeade during the day and sweet ginger tea at night.

I’m going to illustrate with a traditional hot-water brew, but you can also make a sun tea or cold brew if it’s still too hot where you are to imagine boiling water.

I grow lemon verbena and mint – or more accurately, I’ve managed not to neglect them to death yet.

My mom grows lemongrass, which like everything else in my mom’s garden, thrives under her loving care.

It makes me happy to harvest anything from my yard. This is lemongrass, lemon verbena and mint. Lemon verbena (verveine) is popular in France, its long thin leaves usually sold in whole dried leaves for tea.

A handful (1/4 to 1/2 cup) of herbs per cup of water should make for a nice brew. This is lemon verbena and mint.

Pour in water that’s been boiled and cooled for a few minutes. Filtered water does make a difference here – herbal teas are subtle, and regrettably the taste of tap water these days is not.

Mint tea has a fantastic green color that unfortunately doesn’t come out in the pictures.

With lemongrass, you’ll just use the very bottom stemmy part (kind of like the bottom of a scallion but woodier), not the long thin leaves. Cut on an extreme diagonal or score the stems down the center to expose more of the interior.

My mom’s green tea is really green; this sencha tea turned out more of a light brown. Lemongrass adds a subtle lemony aroma that is a delightful complement to green tea.

We’re readying to leave California again for another year in Columbus, Ohio, home to my happily large in-law family and in my book the friendliest city in the country. We’ll be glad when we get there, but in between laundry, packing and cleaning tomorrow, I might have to brew up some fresh herbal tea so that its fragrance reminds me to breathe.

Drop a comment here and let me know about your tea adventures. Or anything else, really – hearing from you always gives me a boost.

Related links

  • Lemon verbena mint herb tea at simplyrecipes.com
  • Herbal sun teas at designsponge.com
  • Barry’s Gold tea: sunshine on a gray day

Fresh Herb Tea
To me herbal teas in a bag can have an off taste, but herbal teas made with fresh herbs have a bright garden greenness that I love. This summer I’ve been enjoying fresh mint tea, always a tongue-tingling delight, as well as lemongrass and lemon verbena. Fresh ginger with honey is a winter favorite.

Ingredients (one or a combination)

  • Mint
  • Lemon verbena
  • Lemongrass
  • Ginger
  • Lemon or orange zest (outer zest peeled from fruit, not grated)
  • Black or green tea (if you like a stronger-flavored – or caffeinated – tea)
  • Filtered water

Hot tea directions

  1. Boil water. Let cool in kettle for 5-10 minutes.
  2. Add fresh herbs to a teapot. Amount depends on the strength of the herb and how strong you like your tea – approximately 1/4-1/2 cup of leafy herbs per cup of water. Ginger can be potent, depending on freshness.
  3. Pour hot water over herbs and let steep for several minutes. If you like, use a spoon to press herbs against the vessel to release additional flavor. Enjoy with honey or sweetener, if desired.

Sun tea directions

  1. Add fresh herbs to a glass jar. Amount depends on the strength of the herb and how strong you like your tea – approximately 1/4-1/2 cup of leafy herbs per cup of water. Ginger can be potent, depending on freshness; try a few slices and add more if you like.
  2. Fill with filtered water and let sit in sun for several hours, or a day or so in the refrigerator. If you like, use a spoon to press herbs against the vessel to release additional flavor.
  3. Enjoy with honey or sweetener, if desired.

Note

  • Experiment with different combinations: Fresh mint with green tea – sweetened, of course – is a Moroccan tradition. Lemongrass and green tea is a favorite or my mom’s; Elise of Simply Recipes writes about having mint and lemon verbena at the Chez Panisse Cafe; ginger and mint is also a wonderfully stimulating combination.

Here’s the link to a printable version.

I first began experimenting with herbal teas, also called tisanes, many years ago while I was in college. At the time, bulk dried herbs, even the more esoteric among them, were readily available in a couple of shops in town, and someone gave me a copy of the now classic book, Back to Eden by Jethro Kloss. Potters Cyclopedia of Medicinal Herbs followed, and a course in herbs by a naturopath out of Utah, John Christopher. My roommates and neighbors became my guinea pigs, and I went from reading about herbs, to drinking herb teas, to growing them to finally traveling to England to study herbal medicine.

But somewhere along the way, I found myself far more interested in drinking and eating my herbs than in approaching them strictly as medicines.

Maybe it was that first delicate, fragrant, grassy cup of tilleul on my first visit to Paris. Or the thick mint tea in tiny demitasse cups served at the Paris mosque, just across from the Jardin des Plantes. Or maybe that very first buttery, fresh herb-laden omelet. All I know is that something about being in France, a country where people take their grub and their herbs seriously, pushed me over the edge.

And after moving on from the wonderful herboristeries (herb pharmacies) of Paris, I came home and began making teas from fresh rather than dried herbs. In case you’d like to try it, I pass along the following tips.

Steep the herbs, don’t boil them. One of the most interesting aspects of fresh herb teas is their color–or lack of color. They are usually clear, and they only take on the
familiar “green” look of dried herb teas if you boil them, which you
should not do as they will quickly lose flavor and aroma. To concoct a pot of fresh herb tea, simply take a handful or so of herbs of your choice (or about 1/4 cup of stripped leaves), crush them a bit in your hands to liberate some of their oils, then place them into a pre-warmed tea pot. Pour in water just off the boil and let steep for about 10 minutes. The resulting tea should be almost clear. Because the herbs are fresh, you may notice flavors and aromas that you never noticed before because in the drying process, herbs lose many of their nuances.

Leave them alone. If you prefer a fresh herb iced tea, similar rules apply. Take a few handfuls herbs, crush them slightly, then place them in a covered, clear jar so the loosely fill it. Fill the jar with water (room temp or cold is fine), then allow it to sit overnight or for several hours at the very least. Despite the allure of “sun tea,” I haven’t found much difference between leaving the tea blend in the sun, on the counter, or in the refrigerator. The key is the length of time it sits, not the temperature. (For a quick fix of iced tea, you can pour steeped hot tea over a glass filled with ice cubes.) As with hot tea, the resulting liquid will be clear and the flavors more delicate and complex than with dried herbs.

Make your own flavors. Sometimes I enjoy using just one single herb in a tea. Mint or lemon balm or even pine needles are some of my favorite single-herb teas. But I also enjoy playing around with some imaginative combinations, often using herbs, such as basil or tarragon, that most people only encounter in a culinary context. My favorite iced tea blend, for instance, contains 4 parts mint, 2 parts tarragon, and 2 parts basil.

Enjoy experimenting with your own flavor blends!

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Herbal tea has many uses, from simple relaxation and enjoyment to homeopathic remedies to meditation and reflection. Why not grow your own herbal tea garden to create custom, homemade teas you can enjoy fresh from your own plants?

Best Garden Herbs for Tea

A wide range of herbs and other plants can be brewed as individual teas or incorporated into rich, flavorful tea blends. While the foliage of herbs is the most common part of a plant to be used for tea, flowers, roots and stems can also be part of different teas. The most popular garden plants that can be delicious tea flavors include…

  • Basil
  • Catnip
  • Chamomile
  • Fennel
  • Ginger
  • Jasmine
  • Lavender
  • Lemon balm
  • Lemon verbena
  • Linden
  • Marjoram
  • Mint
  • Raspberry
  • Rose
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Stevia
  • Thyme

These are not the only herbs that can be used in teas. Any herb with a potent aroma or rich flavor could be added to a tea, and experimenting with different flavors and combinations is a delicious way to make the most of your herb garden.

Growing Tea Herbs

Herbs destined for tea can be grown in several ways. You might simply snip herbs you already grow in your outdoor garden, or you could plan a specific tea garden using only the most flavorful herbs. Tea herbs also do well in containers, both outdoors or inside on a sunny windowsill.

When growing herbs for tea, it is important to grow the plants in optimum conditions so they will be as rich and flavorful as possible. Position herbs to meet their sun and soil nutrition needs, but avoid using chemical pesticides or insecticides on herb destined for tea. Prune herbs only sparingly or you will risk damaging the plant and causing foliage to fade and fall. When the growing season is finished, the remainder of the plant can be harvested and dried, and those dried herbs can be used in tea just as easily as fresh herbs, though the flavor may vary somewhat.

Tea Brewing Tips

When using your garden herbs for brewing tea, you’ll get the richest, most flavorful blends if you…

  • Harvest herbs in the late morning, after the day’s dew has dried but before full sunlight and higher temperatures sap the plants of their essential oils and flavoring.
  • Experiment with brewing and steeping times. Longer steeping will generally lead to stronger flavor, but some herbs can taste bitter if steeped too long.
  • Use three teaspoons (one tablespoon) of fresh herbs for every cup of tea, or just one teaspoon of dried herbs, since drying concentrates the herbs’ flavoring.
  • Experiment with when to harvest herbs. Most flavors are strongest when herbs are in bud just before they flower, but flowers, roots and fruits add their own distinctiveness to tea as well.
  • Lightly rinse fresh herbs before using them in tea to be sure there are no insects, dirt or other contaminants on the plants that will taint the tea.
  • Tear or crush herbs just before brewing to avoid wasting the essential oils and flavors that will escape as the foliage or other plant parts are bruised.
  • Strain tea before drinking, even if you’ve used an infuser, bag or tea ball, to be sure all small bits of herbs are removed from the liquid or the overall flavoring will be uneven.

It can be very rewarding, not to mention delicious, to brew tea from your own garden herbs. With just a little care, you’ll have a bountiful herb harvest to help you create amazing tea blends you can enjoy all year long.

how to dry & Store Your Herbs preserve all that homegrown goodness!

What to do when your garden is overflowing with fresh herbs? Dry some. Then dry some more! Start your personal “stash” of homegrown herbal tea!!

Anise Hyssop Flowers
Freshly Picked & Ready To Be Dried

What’s On This Page?
(Click any link to jump straight to that section)

how to dry fresh herbs

My first foray into the wonderful world of at-home herb drying was a real eye-opener!
After much trial and error (more error than I care to admit!), I’ve learned that some drying methods preserve each herb’s true flavor better than others.
There’s no such thing as “one size fits all” when you’re preserving fresh herbs.

Best Drying Methods for Each Herb

Open-Air Oven Microwave Dehydrator
Chamomile Fair Good Good (very carefully!) Good
Mints Good Good Good Good
Lemon Verbena Good Good Good Good
Stevia Good Good Good Good
Anise Hyssop – flowers Good Good Poor Good
Anise Hyssop – leaves Good Good Good Good
Lemongrass Good Good Good Good
Rose Hips Good (small hips only!) Good Good Good
Bee Balm – flowers Good Fair Poor Good
Bee Balm – leaves Good Good Good Good
Lavender Good Fair Poor Good
Lemon Balm Good Good Good Good

There are a few things to keep in mind – no matter which preserving method you’re using.

  • Always start with freshly-picked herbs.
  • Resist the temptation to harvest more than you can realistically dry or freeze at one time.
  • Be sure your herbs are clean, dry, and free of insect or animal damage.
  • Get all your preserving equipment (see below) ready before you head out to the garden to pick your herbs.

How to Open-Air Dry Your Tea Herbs

Are you a patient soul? This is an easy way to dry lots of herbs at one time. But it’s definitely not the quickest:

  • Cut a handful – or a basketful – of herbs from your garden.

  • Strip all leaves from the bottom 1½ inches (3.8 cm) of each stem.

  • Gather 5 or 6 stems together in a bunch, and wrap the bunch with a piece of twine, a rubber band, or a twist tie to hold them loosely together.

Hint: I slip a sprung-open paper clip into the bundle to use as a hanging device …

  • Now, hang your herbs in a non-humid, well-ventilated place, away from direct sunlight. (Thank goodness for air-conditioned guest rooms!)

Yep, my herbs are hanging from an over-the-door clothes hook. I was running out of space on the drying lines I had strung across the room. So I was forced to get creative with places to hang more bunches.

  • When your herbs feel crunchy-dry, strip them from their stems for storage.

Reminder …

If you’re thinking of hanging your herbs in your garage or basement to dry, think twice about that.
Your basement might be more humid than you realize, leading to moldy herbs. And garages collect some really nasty fumes. You don’t want those fumes seeping into your tea herbs. Ick!

Are you short on hanging space? Lay your herbs on a flat surface to dry.

  • For larger leaves, a wire baking rack is a handy drying tool. The rack allows for good air circulation under, over, and around each leaf.

If your leaves or flowers are small, they might fall through the holes on a baking rack. If that happens, spread them out on a clean cloth or paper. They’ll dry just fine.

  • Leave your herbs in a well-ventilated, humidity-free, shady place to dry.

Important: Check your herbs every day. If you notice any moldiness, or even the barest hint of a musty odor, throw those herbs away and start over with a fresh harvest and less-humid drying conditions!

How to Dry Herbs in Your Oven

The secret to success with this method is having an oven that consistently holds a super-low (90°F /32°C or lower) temperature setting. If your oven temperature spikes and drops, you might want to try a different drying method.
Remember, our herbs are precious! We want to dry ’em – not fry ’em!!

  • Pre-heat your oven on its lowest temperature setting. 75-80° F (24-27° C) is perfect.
  • Spread your clean, dry herb leaves or flowers on a baking sheet.
  • Pop the baking sheet into the oven.
  • Leave the oven door slightly ajar to allow some air circulation.
  • Check your herbs regularly. As soon as they become crispy to the touch, they’re done!

* Helpful Hint: Check the temperature inside your oven before you turn it on. You might be surprised to find that it’s warm enough in there to dry your herbs without ever cranking up the heat!

Drying Herbs in a Microwave

Frankly, I was pretty skeptical about microwave drying herbs. Then I tried it and discovered that many tea herbs hold their true color and flavor surprisingly well when they’re dried in the microwave.
The scientific explanation involves the difference in evaporation rates of a plant’s water content and its volatile oils (the good stuff!). Borrrrrrrring, I know. So I’ll spare you the science mumbo jumbo. 😉
Moving right along to the “how to” …

  • Set your microwave to the lowest possible power setting.
  • Spread your herbs on a clean, white paper towel, and put them in the microwave. Cover loosely with another towel. (The towels helps absorb the moisture that’s released from the herbs as they dry.)
  • Press “Start”, and zap your herbs for 30-40 seconds.
  • Remove the top towel, and let your herbs “air out” for a minute with the microwave door open. Then feel for dryness.
  • If your herbs aren’t quite dry, zap ’em again for about 20 seconds.
  • Repeat this process, using shorter and shorter zapping times, until your herbs are just crispy dry to the touch.
  • When they’re fully dried and cool, put them into an air-tight container for storage.

* IMPORTANT *

Be extra-careful when microwaving herbs.
In a matter of a few seconds, a delicate flower or leaf can go from perfectly dried, to destroyed, to on fire!

Dehydrating Tea Herbs

During the growing season, my food dehydrator gets more use than any other appliance in my kitchen. Yeah, it’s true – I’m not big on cooking. 😉 But I can’t live without my dehydrator for drying fresh herbs!

Thinking of buying a dehydrator? I bought my dehydrator at Amazon … and 7+ years later, it’s still running like a champ!

I load 4 or 5 trays with freshly harvested herbs, turn the trusty machine on to the lowest temperature setting, and walk away.
The drying temperature stays steady, no heat fluctuations to screw up the process … and in a matter of hours my herbs are nice and crispy dry.

Note: Each brand of dehydrator operates a little differently. So be sure to follow your manufacturer’s instructions for best results!

how to store your dried herbs

Will your homegrown herbal tea taste just as fresh in February as it did the day you harvested it? Yes … if you store your dried herbs properly!

to crush or not to crush

I know how tempting it can be to crush your mint, lemon verbena and other leaves up before you put them into their storage containers. They smell sooooo good when you rub them between your fingers!
And when you buy those expensive herbal teas from a fancy-schmancy tea shoppe, the leaves are already crushed. So that must be the proper way to store them. Right?
Nope! Ask any chef. He or she will tell you that it’s best to store your herbs whole. As soon as you crush them, they begin to lose their potency.
So do as top chefs do … keep your herbs whole until you’re ready to use them. And store them in a squeaky-clean, completely dry, airtight container.

best storage containers

What’s the best material for your storage containers? Glass!
I’m a huge fan of glass Mason jars. They’re airtight, they’re easy to clean, they don’t “hold odors” from whatever was in them before. Plus, they’re inexpensive. Properly cared for, they’ll last forever.

Part Of My “Stash” From A Recent Harvest

I’m also a huge fan of the cute little labels I use on my jars! They’re “dissolvable”.
When it’s time to wash and re-use a jar, I just run it under water and the label slips right off. No more frustration (or manicure damage!) trying to remove sticky, gunky label residue. 🙂

best storage location

The best place to store your herbs is anywhere in your home that’s cool, dry and away from direct sunlight.

  • Inside a pantry or cupboard is a perfect spot, as long as it isn’t near any source of heat – like a stove, an oven or a heating duct.
  • Your kitchen counter could be okay, too. Again, as long as your herbs won’t be exposed to heat or direct sunlight.
  • In the refrigerator? Sure, it’s cool and dark in there. But … when you take your herbs out of the fridge to use them, condensation forms inside the jar. That moisture can lead to mustiness and mold. To keep your homegrown teas pure and fresh tasting – keep them out of the fridge!

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Drying Herbs and Tea Blends

Drying herbs, and keeping their flavor and medicine intact, is a bit tricky in the damp Pacific Northwest. Herbs need to be dried as quickly as possible with low heat. 90 – 95 degrees F. is perfect. Too high heat and you run the risk of quickly drying the outside of the plant with the inside still containing moisture. This means plant material that will decompose and mold from the inside out, and the medicinal and nutritional value will be lost. Ovens and microwaves destroy the medicinal and nutritional components of plants. The lowest setting on an oven is typically 170 degrees F., which is much too high a heat for drying plants. Pinterest is chock full of pictures of oven and microwave drying plants, but Pinterest is not the real world, is it?

In areas of the country where it is moist a good deal of the time, such as Western Washington, hanging herbs in bunches is not a good choice. While hanging herbs look romantic and pretty, these bunches tend to dehydrate during the day, re-hydrate as the dew falls in the evening, dehydrate somewhat during the next day, re-hydrate as the dew fall the next evening and so on. With this method, you will lose the medicinal and nutritional value.

What to use for dehydrating plants and food?
A dehydrator with a fan and heat control is best for our area. The dehydrators with the heat rings on the bottom of the device dry unevenly and the screens need to be constantly shuffled. This means patchy drying and the potential for mold and rapid degradation. The fan type dehydrators push warm air through all the screens and make for a more even dehydration process. Here is an example of a good dehydrator: Nesco Dehydrators. Personally, I have a very large dehydrator much like the “jumbo” on Dry It, You’ll Like It!; however, mine has a fan. I find it much more efficient over dehydrators without fans.

How long to keep the dehydrator going?
Until the plants are what I call “snappy dry.” That means that when you attempt to bend the thickest part of the plant, it snaps. If it bends at all, it means that there is still moisture in the plant and it needs more time in the dehydrator. There are no set hours or days with dehydrating herbs. Roots will take longer than leaves, leaves take longer than flowers. Each plant and plant part is different with its dehydration time needed, so the snappy dry method is best to gauge full dryness. My apprentices frequently show me their 18 hour dried nettles, to which I immediately show them how much more moisture is still in the plant and leaf stems. Snappy dry, my friends, snappy dry. Store immediately. Do not let the plants hang out in an unplugged dehydrator, as moisture quickly re-hydrates the plant material. A dehydrator is used simply to dry plants, not as a place to store them after they are dried.

How to store properly dried plants?
In glass jars or PET plastic buckets with tight lids. If you are going through all the work to go into the wild or garden, harvest plants, process them and dry for medicine or meals, you’ll want to make sure that they will stay viable for as long as possible. Plastic is permeable. Storing in plastic bags make for dried plants that attract moisture. I’ve read in books where it was said to store dried herbs in paper bags under your bed. What are they thinking? Under your bed with the dust bunnies, cat hair and the like? Not a good idea. Paper also attracts moisture. I keep my herbs in either glass jars if I have a small quantity of dried plants, or for my larger volume tea formulations, in PET plastic buckets. PET plastic is food safe plastic. Keep the jars out of direct sunlight. Sunlight, whether direct or indirect, will bleach your dried plant material, causing it to lose its medicinal and nutritional benefits.

How long will dried plants keep their medicinal and nutritional strength?
It depends. It’s important to store the dried plant material as whole as possible. Once a root is dried, it is extremely hard to break apart, so please do cut up your roots before drying. Leaves and flowers should be kept whole. A whole plant has very little openings for oxygen, the Great Decomposer, to get in and do its work. When you crush, or break apart leaves and flowers for storing, they become susceptible to quicker decomposition. I do not keep plant material from one season of its life to the next. Meaning, if I harvest nettles in the spring and still have some left over the following spring, I use the leftover nettles from the year before for mineral rich compost tea, and harvest current season plants.

Because I think you’re all amazing people, I am sharing a couple of my favorite tea blends. The first blend uses garden plants. Late winter is the perfect time to start planting seeds indoors for starts, or dividing herbs for sharing and early spring planting. For you wildcrafters, there is a tea blend for you as well. As the seasons progress, you’ll have opportunities for drying the flowers, leaves, and much later, roots for these blends.

I have formulated the tea blends into parts. A part is a measurement such as 1 cup, 1/2 cup, etc. The total volume of the tea blend is up to the person creating it. They can use a teaspoon as one part, a cup as one part, or even a gallon as one part if they so choose.

If you, dear reader, choose to use 1 cup as your measurement standard, 1 part would equal 1 cup dried plant material, 1/2 part would equal 1/2 cup dried plant material, 1/4 part would equal 1/4 cup dried plant material, etc.

GARDEN BLEND:

Oats – 2 parts. Throw down oat seeds right on top of the soil and keep moist. In later summer, when the seeds leak out “milk” when squeezed, cut down about a foot to a foot and a half, and dry the leaves, seed heads, and stalk. Oats calm stress and nudge the Schwann cells next to the nerves to synthesize myelin, which is the protective covering around the axis of the nerve cells.

Chamomile flowers – 1 part. Anti-inflammatory and sedative.

Spearmint, Peppermint, Lemon Balm – 1 part your choice. The mints are invigorating, mineral rich, and super tasty. Lemon Balm is anti-viral to boot!

Calendula flowers – ½ part. Antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory, calendula flowers add sass and color to your blend.

Fennel flowers, leaves, and/or seeds – ¼ part. A good anise flavoring to the blend, fennel helps to expel gas and soothe an overfull stomach.

Violet flowers – ¼ part. Violets help facilitate the gradual relief of grief and sadness.

Lavender flowers and leaves – ¼ part. Anti-fungal, anti-viral, anti-bacterial. Lavender helps us to focus, chill out, and kill the bad stuff.

WILDCRAFTED BLEND:

Nettles – 1 part. Harvest nettles before they flower. Cut the tops to ensure regrowth. Mineral rich, anti-inflammatory. Do not use nettles during, or to treat, adrenal fatigue, as the stimulating influence of nettles may worsen the disease and cause greater burnout.

Dandelion flowers and roots – 1 part. Dandelions improve digestive, immune, and nerve function.

Wild Raspberry leaves – 1 part. Wild raspberry leaves help to clear the lungs and support immune function. They are a good source of selenium which helps with slower aging, healthy hair, nails and teeth, less cardiovascular disease, and a whole ton of other stuff!

Wild Roses – ½ to 1 part. Like violet flowers, wild roses aid in the relief of grief and sadness.

Hawthorn flowers – ½ to 1 part. Hawthorn facilitates the movement of food through the digestive tract, dilates the cardiac pathways, and helps a person to feel that “everything will be ok eventually” during hard life transitions.

See you around the weed patch!

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Do tea-like drinks typically require the plant material be dried or processed?

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Homestead

  • Aislinn Sarnacki | BDN Aislinn Sarnacki | BDN From left to right, dried marshmallow root and dandelion root are sealed in jars beside teas produced from them. The darker liquid is a tea brewed from dandelion root and burdock root tea, and the lighter liquid is a tea created from marshmallow root and cinnamon sticks.
  • Aislinn Sarnacki | BDN Aislinn Sarnacki | BDN Dried marshmallow root and cinnamon sticks are left in lukewarm water for four hours, then strained, to make a simple tea that is said to soothe sore throat, heartburn, digestive issues and other pains. People are encouraged to speak with their primary care doctor before drinking marshmallow root tea and other root-based teas because they can interfere with some medications and could carry negative side effects.

By Aislinn Sarnacki, BDN Staff • February 8, 2018 6:00 am

If you’ve ever roamed the bulk section of your local health food store, you may have seen less familiar roots mixed in with the cinnamon sticks and raw almonds.

These common roots, usually dried or baked, include burdock root, dandelion root, marshmallow root, valerian root and licorice root, all broken into little chunks and ready to scoop into a bag. What are they all for?

One common use of these roots is the creation of health teas and infusions, beverages that are said to help boost the immune system or soothe digestive issues or help you sleep. Historically, each root has been used to help with a number of different health problems.

“I use roots in a lot of my products on a regular basis,” Katheryn Langelier, founder and formulator at Herbal Revolution Farm and Apothecary in midcoast Maine, said. “ are so readily available. I personally focus a lot of what’s already growing here in my backyard.”

Dandelions, for example, grow in abundance throughout New England, often in places people wish they weren’t. This hardy plant with its vibrant yellow blossoms can be found in almost every lawn. They dot the roadside and pop up through cracks in the pavement. And for countless generations the root of this plant has been used in teas brewed to detoxify the body, strengthen the immune system and soothe the stomach.

Langelier uses dandelion root in several of her Herbal Revolution teas, including her Roasted Root With Reishi blend, which she created to be a substitute for coffee. With a rich, earthy taste, the tea is a mix of dandelion root, chicory root, ashwagandha root, reishi mushrooms and a dash of organic cinnamon and cocoa nibs, which adds the tiniest bit of caffeine to the blend.

Founded in 2009 by Langelier, Herbal Revolution Farm and Apothecary creates and sells a variety of products — including teas, elixirs and body care products — made from organic plants and mushrooms. Much of the ingredients for the products are grown at Langelier’s farm in Union, and assembly occurs at a commercial kitchen in Camden. Starting as a small Etsy shop, the business has grown steadily to now sell products wholesale to 180 stores throughout the country, and this month, Langelier will open the first Herbal Revolution retail shop at 147 West St. in Rockport.

“There’s still a lot to do,” Langelier said, anticipating they’ll be able to open in a couple of weeks. “I’m telling people once we’re done painting and get all set up, we’re happy to open the doors. We’re just so excited.”

Langelier has been studying botanical medicine for more than 20 years, starting in high school. After graduating, she pursued farming and off-the-grid living, familiarizing herself with a variety of plants through firsthand experiences.

“I learned a lot of my foundations for herbal medicinals and wild edibles from the farmers I worked for,” she said. “It was a part of the lifestyle. It just came with it. I was growing my own food, so then I was also growing my own medicine.”

“Food as medicine” is a concept Langelier feels passionate about, and many of her products reflect that mentality.

“For the most part, all of our teas have medicinal purposes,” Langelier said. “It just depends on what you’re looking for. We have tea that supports the nervous system, tea that’s great for the immune system, tea that’s great for the lungs and the heart.”

“There’s a lot of things people can be doing for preventative care, and that’s really how I view herbal medicine and food as medicine,” she added. “You can use it for acute issues as well, but I’m not anti-allopathic medicine. It’s saved my life twice now.”

The health benefits provided by different roots and herbs do have some scientific backing, but much of what people hear about herbal medicine is anecdotal, based on testimonials and age-old traditions. On the internet, this can be a problem. There’s plenty of false information on websites about roots and how to prepare them, Langelier said.

“Some of the Googled stuff is good, and some is bogus,” she said.

Before consuming a new tea or infusions made from roots and herbs, Langelier suggests people consult a clinical herbalist or naturopathic doctor and do research using reliable sources, such as the American Herbalist Guild. She also suggests books by Rosemary Gladstar of the Sage Mountain Retreat Center & Native Plant Preserve in Vermont.

Some root-based teas can block certain medications. And some roots can have side effects, especially if consumed in mass quantities. For example, burdock root and dandelion root are diuretics, meaning they flush water from your body — bad news for someone who is dehydrated. They also can lower blood sugar, something that could be a problem for someone who is diabetic.

That being said, few people have negative reactions to the common roots that Langelier uses in her products, the ones that are so commonly found in health food stores.

Marshmallow root, for instance, is a light-colored root that Langelier grows at her Union farm and includes in several of her teas. Almost pure white, the dried root is used in tea to soothe pain in the mouth, throat, digestive system and urinary tract. It has a sweet, pleasant flavor — which shouldn’t be too much of a surprise, seeing how it was used to make the first marshmallows, a sweet delicacy conceived by the ancient Egyptians. (Modern marshmallows are a combination of sugar, water and gelatin.)

When it comes to preparing marshmallow root tea or any type of root tea, there are several ways to go about it. Roots can be cooked in boiling water, they can steep in hot water and they can soak in lukewarm or cold water. The method usually depends on the type of root and the desired tea texture and potency. It’s all about education, Langelier said. One root at a time.

“I think people are a little bit more in control of their own health when they’re using natural products,” she said. “I think it’s empowering people.”

Marshmallow root tea

Yield: 3 cups

3 cups lukewarm water
3 tablespoons dried marshmallow root
2 sticks of cinnamon or 1 tablespoon of cinnamon bark

Combine the water, marshmallow root and cinnamon in a large (1-quart) Mason jar. It should fill the Mason jar about 75 percent of the way. Place a cover on the jar and shake to mix. Let the ingredients settle and steep for about four hours. Remove marshmallow root and cinnamon by pouring the tea through a fine-mesh strainer. Drink cold.

Disclaimer: It’s advised to consult your doctor before drinking this beverage as it can block medications and may have negative side effects.

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Plants For Tea Gardens: How To Brew The Best Plants For Tea

There are many uses for herbs growing in the garden besides providing a haven for butterflies, birds and bees and impressing the family with your seasoning prowess. Plants for tea gardens are another way to employ your herbs. Very possibly, you already have a number of herbs suitable for the making of tea. Let’s take a look at some of the best herbs for tea.

What Plants are Good for Making Tea?

Although it is by no means comprehensive, the following is a list of plants that are good for making tea and which part of the plant to utilize:

  • Mint: Leaves — digestive and calming
  • Passionflower: Leaves — relaxing and soporific
  • Rose Hips — Buds once the bloom has expired, boost of Vitamin C
  • Lemon Balm — Leaves, calming
  • Chamomile — Buds, relaxing and good for a sour tummy
  • Echinacea — Buds, immunity
  • Milk Thistle — Buds, detoxification
  • Angelica — Root, digestive
  • Catnip — Leaves, calming
  • Raspberry — Leaf, female reproduction
  • Lavender — Buds, calming
  • Nettles — Leaf, detoxification
  • Red Clover — Buds, detoxification and purify
  • Dandelion — Root, blood tonic
  • Linden — Flowers, digestive and calming
  • Lemongrass: — Stalk, digestive, calming

In addition to these herbs, some other useful herbal tea plants include:

  • Calendula
  • Basil
  • Feverfew
  • Horsetail
  • Hyssop
  • Lemon Verbena
  • Motherwort
  • Mugwort
  • Skullcap
  • Yarrow

How to Prepare Herbal Tea

In learning how to prepare herbal tea, first choose a dry morning to harvest your herbal tea plants. The essential oils of the tea herb are highest in concentration before the heat of the day draws them out of the plant. Some herbs may be brewed directly following harvest, and some you may wish to dry.

To dry herbal tea plants, there are a couple of different methods, but the primary concern is to use even, gentle heat. A single layer of sprigs can be placed on a tray of a food dehydrator or a microwave lined with paper towels can be used. For the microwave, set a timer for a minute or less and watch closely to avoid burning. Continue to microwave in short bursts, leaving the door open between to let moisture escape, until dry.

A low oven of from 100 to 125 degrees F. (3 to -52 C.) can also be used and, again, leave the door ajar and check frequently. You can also air dry herbs for tea, taking care to protect from dust by placing in paper bags pierced with holes prior to hanging. Avoid drying herbs in a basement or other musty area as they may absorb odors or get moldy.

Once your herbal tea plants are prepared as above, make sure to label them. Whether you store in airtight containers or zip seal bags, dried herbs often look alike and need to have the variety and date printed on them as well as kept separate from others.

Store dried herbs in a cool, dry place. Conversely, you may also choose to freeze herbs for tea in zip seal baggies or in ice cube trays covered in water. Herbal ice cubes can then be popped out and put into freezer bags for storage and are great to flavor iced tea or punch.

How to Brew the Best Plants for Tea

When using fresh herbs for tea, use one sprig (or tablespoon) per person, and bruise by tearing or crushing to release the oils. Herbal teas readiness is led by taste rather than sight as they tend to have little color and take longer to brew than a traditional tea.

Tea may brewed by either infusion or decoction. Infusion is a gentler process of releasing oils and works well with either fresh or dried herbs. Bring cold water to boiling in an enameled pot (metal may make the tea taste metallic) and add the tea. If using dried herbs for tea, use 1 teaspoon per person and one “extra” for the pot. An infuser, mesh ball, muslin bag, or the like may be used to contain the herbs. Steep for five to 15 minutes, strain, fill a cup halfway with infusion and top with boiling water.

When using seed, roots, or hips, decoction is the method to use. First, crush the ingredients to release the essential oils. Use 1 tablespoon for each 2 cups of water. Bring water to boil, add ingredients, and simmer for five to 10 minutes. Strain before drinking.

There are endless combinations for herbal teas, so experiment and enjoy the aroma and emotional and health benefits of a home grown herbal tea garden.

How to Make Roasted and Fresh Dandelion Tea From Your Garden

The saying goes: “One person’s trash is another person’s treasure.” This couldn’t be more true when it comes to dandelions. Many gardeners describe this hardy and bright yellow plant as the scourge of their gardens. It is a weed that takes over entire fields and makes its home in the heart of many flowerbeds.

The plant seeds are spread each summer though the distinctive starburst firework-like nature of the seeds. Blowing on the delicate stems is a favorite summer pastime — as long as those seeds don’t land in the neighbor’s perfectly groomed garden.

On the other hand, dandelions are beloved by naturalists across the globe. They are easy to grow just about anywhere and they are healthy beyond measure. Dandelions have been used since the early 10th century as medicinal herbs. It was used by the Chinese to treat stomach problems and is a staple in traditional medicine for bone health. Find out more about the dandelion plant and see how you can reap health benefits by brewing your own dandelion tea at home.

What Is Dandelion Tea?

You can make dandelion tea from the leaves, flowers, or roots of the plants, with the latter being the most common method. Herbal tea made with the flowers tends to be more delicate and sweet than those made with the roots or leaves. Dandelion leaves are generally harvested in the spring while the roots and flowers for tea are removed in the fall. Dandelion tea can also be found in tea bags at your local tea shop.

The dandelion plant is known by the botanical name Taraxacum officinale. This plant is often used to make dandelion tea and dandelion wine as well as dandelion jelly and jams. These plants derive their name from the French phrase “dent-de-lion,” which translates to lion’s tooth.

Taste

Dandelion tea is generally delicate and lightly sweet in flavor. Roasted dandelion teas like dandelion coffee tend to have a stronger, toasty flavor and a deeper aroma. The dandelion plant is not overpowering so it can be combined with bold flavors such as masala chai and black tea leaves. It is often sweeten or flavored using citrus fruits and other garden greens.

Health Benefits of Dandelion Tea

Dandelions are packed with nutrients and antioxidants that can boost your health. Ever part of the plant from dandelion roots and dandelion leaves to the vibrant dandelion flowers is edible. Dandelions contain antioxidants such as beta-carotene that help prevent cell damage.

The leaves and flowers also contain vitamin C, which helps to boost the immune system and ward of the common cold. Dandelions are a good source of fiber that streamlines digestion. The leaves of the dandelion plant contain more protein than spinach, making it a good choice post-workout.

Dandelion roots are often used to make tea and boast significant health benefits of their own. They contain high levels of potassium, calcium, and phosphorous. All of these nutrients promote bone and tooth health. Magnesium in dandelion roots helps to relax muscles and alleviate pain. Dandelion root also works as a diuretic and detoxifier, purifying the entire body.

The roots are also chock full of antioxidants. These antioxidants work to eliminate free radicals in the body that can cause premature aging and cancer. Many of the antioxidants found in dandelion roots can help to inhibit the growth of and induce death in cancer cells.

Dandelion Tea Recipes

Dandelion Coffee or Roasted Dandelion Root Tea Recipe

Dandelion coffee is also known as roasted dandelion tea. The production and brewing methods result in a tea that tastes similar to coffee. The dandelion plant doesn’t contain any naturally occurring caffeine so it won’t replace that jolt you get from a cup of joe. However, it is a great alternative if you enjoy the taste of coffee, but are trying to cut back on your caffeine intake. It is also an ideal coffee substitute for people who like a roasted coffee flavor, but are sensitive to caffeine.

Step 1: Harvest Dandelion Roots

The dandelion plant features long, wiry taproots that are often twisted and deeply embedded in the earth. Use a large spade or a dandelion fork to remove as much of the roots as possible. Separate the root from the leaves and stems. Rinse well using cool water at high pressure. You can save the leaves for use in salads and keep the flowers for dandelion flower teas. Cut the fresh roots into smaller pieces using a mandolin or sharp knife.

Step 2: Roast Dandelion Roots

Preheat the oven to 200 F and place the dandelion roots on a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Leave the dandelion roots to roast for 2 to 3 hours depending on thickness. Rotate the roots often to avoid burning. The roots are done when you can snap them in half easily and cleanly. If the roots bend and are flexible when trying to break, they need more time roasting.

You can also roast the dandelion roots in a pan on medium high heat. Cast iron pans work best for imparting the smoky, rich flavor of roasted dandelions. Stir often and make sure to avoid burning the roots. The dandelion roots will be ready for tea brewing when they turn dark brown.

Step 3: Heat Water

You can grind the dried roots into a fine powder using your coffee grinder if preferred. Otherwise, you can simply use the small dried root pieces you roasted earlier. Use a small saucepan to bring water to a boil. Add the dandelion root to the boiling water and simmer for 20 minutes.

Step 4: Strain and Serve

Strain the roasted roots out using a fine mesh strainer. Serve as-is or add sweetener and milk to taste.

Dandelion Leaf Tea Recipe

You can make a quick cup of dandelion tea from the leaves in your own garden.

Step 1: Harvest and Prepare Leaves

Harvest six leaves from the dandelion plant. Choose only the leaves that are young and tender. You’ll end up with bitter leaves and bitter tea if you use more mature dandelion leaves. Rinse the leaves well under running water and pat dry with a towel. Cut the leaves into small pieces or grind gently with a muddler to release flavor and healthy compounds. Add the leaves to your tea cup.

Step 2: Heat Water

Bring water to a rolling boil and pour into your cup. Steep the dandelion tea for 5 to 10 minutes. Taste every 30 seconds after the first 5 minutes to ensure flavor your enjoy.

Step 3: Sweeten (Optional)

You can drink your dandelion leaf tea as-is or sweeten it using coconut oil, honey, or brown sugar. Keep the sweeteners to a minimum to preserve the healthy nature of this tea and avoid turning it into a calorie-dense beverage. You can also flavor your dandelion tea naturally by adding a slice of lemon or orange.

Dandelion Flower Tea Recipe

Dandelion flowers make for a delicious iced tea beverage that can help you cool down in summer. Combined with a little lime, this weed tea is just what you need this summer by the pool.

Step 1: Harvest Dandelions

Gather about a quart of fresh dandelions from your garden. Remove all the stems and leaves and place the yellow flowers in a colander. Rinse well using cool water.

Step 2: Add Hot Water

Add 1 cup of hot water to a large bowl. Add the dandelion flowers and steep for 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer the dandelion tea into a large glass pitcher.

Step 3: Refrigerate

Add the juice of 3 to 4 limes for a tangy taste. Place the dandelion tea in the refrigerator and cool for a few hours. You can serve the dandelion tea with the flowers in the glass or strain them out if preferred. Dandelion tea can be saved for up to 36 hours.

Step 4: Sweeten (Optional)

Add a stevia leaf — leaves from the plant used to make the famous sweetener — for a light and natural sweetener. Make sure to add the leaf to the hot water and let it steep with the dandelion flowers.

Preserve Dandelion Tea for Later

You don’t have to get on your hands and knees in the garden every time you want to make dandelion tea. You can harvest the flowers, leaves and roots each spring or fall and store for later use by drying the plant parts.

There are several ways to dry dandelions for tea. You can simply leave the dandelions out in the sun to dry them and prevent oxidation. Alternatively, you can place them in the oven and roast them. Set the oven to 250 F and roast for 2 to 3 hours.

Once your dandelion plants have been dried, store them in an airtight glass jar. Keep the jar in a cabinet or cupboard out of direct sunlight. Make sure to store your dried dandelions in a cool, dry place to avoid bacteria growth.

Side Effects of Dandelion Tea

The Food and Drug Administration or FDA has recognized dandelion greens as generally safe for consumption. Dandelion tea has few side effects when consumed in moderate amounts. Only harvest dandelions that have been grown organically when brewing your own tea. Dandelions found alongside busy roadways or those that are cultivated using pesticides can have additional negative side effects.

Allergies

Dandelion tea can cause allergic reactions in people with plant or flower sensitivities. These plants can trigger allergic reactions in people who have allergies to ragweed, daisies, marigolds, and chrysanthemums. Avoid drinking dandelion tea if you have allergies to these or related plants. Stop drinking dandelion tea if you experience symptoms such as hives, difficulty breathing, or swelling of your face or throat.

Pregnancy

Dandelions have been used in Chinese medicine to promote lactation. However, research hasn’t demonstrate whether dandelion tea is safe for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Consult with your physician before drinking dandelion tea.

Interactions With Medication

Dandelion tea can interact with other prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications. Don’t drink dandelion tea if you are taking medications such a Cipro and Levaquin for bacterial infections. Dandelion tea can interfere with blood thinner medications. You should also avoid drinking dandelion tea if you are taking diuretics or heart and blood pressure medication.

Get the Most Out Of Your Weeds

Even though dandelions are considered weeds, they are potent plants that offer an array of health benefits. Dandelion tea is an excellent digestive aid that you can brew from plants in your garden. The prebiotic nature of these plants makes them a great addition prior to and during meals. The antioxidants can help you stay healthy and happy all year long.

Brew your dandelion tea using roots, flowers, or leaves. You can forage for dandelions in the woods or pluck them right in your own garden. There’s no shortage of these weedy, yet vibrant plants. Make sure to harvest away from heavily trafficked areas and grow your dandelions without the use of pesticides. Say hello to new flavors and try dandelion tea different ways to discover your favorite blend. Put a new spin on your daily cuppa with dandelion weed tea.

When temperatures fall, there’s nothing better than a piping hot cup of tea.

And as craft and organic tea seeps into the mainstream, tea gardens are becoming a popular way for brew lovers to bypass the store and enjoy the benefits of herbal tea without additives or preservatives.

“It just tastes and smells better,” says chef Kimmy Tang, who snips mint, lavender and lemongrass from her garden for herbal teas at her 9021PHO restaurants in Los Angeles.

“I also know that it’s 100 percent organic. I don’t use any chemicals to help them grow, and I can taste the difference.”

It may sound daunting, but British gardener and author Cassie Liversidge says many tea garden staples may already be at your fingertips.

“Honeysuckle, mint, rosemary. They’re all quite common plants, but can be turned into tea,” says Liversidge, author of the forthcoming book “Homegrown Tea: An Illustrated Guide to Planting, Harvesting and Blending Teas and Tisanes” (St. Martin’s Griffin, March 2014).

She and other tea gardeners offer the following tips to get your feet wet:

GROWING

First and foremost, no sprawling English estate is required here.

Tea gardens come in many forms, and don’t even need to be in the ground. Tang grows her herbs in a vertical garden hanging on a wall behind her restaurants, while other city dwellers cramped for space use pots and other containers.

All you need is dirt, water and some seeds.

“A great way to get started is to buy a plastic indoor sun garden at Lowe’s or Home Depot, along with the seeds and pieces of dirt that expand with water,” says McCollonough Ceili, a 26-year-old author who grows lavender, sage, mint and other herbs outside her kitchen window in Tennessee.

Liversidge recommends easy-to-grow plants like mint, lavender or chamomile for beginners.

If you’ve already got those growing, take a stab at other popular tea ingredients like coriander, lemon balm, rose hips, hibiscus and jasmine.

Keep the plants in an area that gets at least six hours of sunlight each day, rotate them often and monitor moisture per directions on the seed packet.

HARVESTING/DRYING

Each plant is unique when it comes to harvesting.

The flower tops are the most medicinal part of the rosemary plant, for example, so be sure to clip those off along with the leaves for tea, Liversidge says.

Fennel is valued for its seeds, and those must be shaken out from the flowers once they turn brown. Snip flowers like chamomile at the base of their stems, not the top, so you can use the stems, leaves and petals in your brew, according to Liversidge.

Many herbs can be used fresh, but drying them is a good way to keep your tea cupboard stocked through the winter.

Tie them up and hang them in bundles to dry, or spread them out on a flat surface in the sun. A dehydrator or an oven at a temperature of 212 degrees Fahrenheit or lower can also be used.

“With my lemongrass, I cut it and freeze it to keep the nutrients locked in,” says Tang.

No matter the method, be sure to store your tea ingredients in airtight containers.

BREWING

There are a few ways to brew your homemade tea, depending on the ingredients and personal preference.

Hershey, Pa.-based writer and photographer Amy Renea prefers to “chop off big hunks” of fresh mint, lemon balm, chamomile and sometimes stevia from her tea garden and put them right in the tea kettle.

Once it’s reached boiling, pull the kettle off the heat and let it sit for a few minutes before pouring into your favorite tea cup.

“I strain the tea through a small tea mesh strainer, but any strainer will do,” Renea says.

Liversidge prefers filling empty tea bags with homemade ingredients — “then you’re not tempted to put too much water with it” — and letting them steep about three minutes before enjoying.

For the freshest tea possible, she advises pouring fresh water into your tea kettle every time. It has more oxygen, which will bring out the tea’s flavor.

Here is a recipe for a Vitamin C “power blend” tea from the forthcoming “Medicinal Gardening Handbook” (Skyhorse Publishing, May 2014) by Vermont gardeners and neighbors Alyssa Holmes and Dede Cummings:

Ingredients

1 part rose hips

1 part hibiscus

2 parts lemon balm

1 part dandelion blossoms

1/2 part rosebuds

Directions

Pour into a quart jar and fill with boiling water. Cover and let steep for at least 15 minutes or up to eight hours. Strain before drinking.

Want a fresh cup of tea? Why not take a peek in your garden?

There’s nothing better than a soothing cup of tea after a long day. But if you’re in a rut with those prepackaged tea bags, making tea out of fresh ingredients from the garden is just what you may need. Few activities will make you feel closer to nature than going and snipping a few fresh peppermint leaves or rose hips to brew in a tea. You’ll feel like some sort of earth wizard. With this method, you’ll get the best of the garden in a beverage instantaneously, while discovering fresh new flavors. Plus you’ll save money, while not having to worry about pesticides and where your produce has been. What’s even better is brewing tea out of fresh plants is insanely easy. Just stick a handful of your greens in a pot and pour boiling water over them. Let steep for a few minutes and you have your tea. It’s even easier than running to the store for soda. Plus herbal teas have that wonderful added benefit of having zero calories. You may also think you’re stuck with the most well-known teas like peppermint and rose hip, but there are dozens and dozens of edible plants that can go in teas, each containing their own unique flavors. Herbs have a complex taste to them that range from sweet to earthy to bitter. With so many choices, fresh teas will make a complex addition to your diet and may just push out some of those sugary, high calorie drinks. Many herbs are also easy-to-grow perennials that mind themselves, like sage. Other plants like rosemary, oregano, basil and thyme are easy to grown in a container. They’re delicious plants that are frankly difficult to kill. Then there are the edible plants you can’t get rid of for the life of you, like dandelions. Even if you have a black thumb, there’s little reason to be intimidated about growing your own tea ingredients. Below is a list of some of the most accessible plants to brew in your natural tea, broken down by flavor, to get you started: Basil: Different types of basil will give different flavors. Sweet basil gives a clove-like flavor, for instance. Birch leaves: Has a wintergreen, aromatic flavor. Blackberry leaves: On the bitter side, mix with honey. Carnations: A very rich tea with a refreshing taste. Chamomile flowers: Very sweet in taste and relaxing. Good for after a stressful day. Chickweed: Possesses a fruity, smooth flavor. Chives: Tangy and intense. Citrus blossoms (orange, lemon, etc.): A zesty taste that makes a good addition to other teas. Dandelions (flowers, roots, leaves): I was shocked when I heard that those obnoxious weeds that blow seeds everywhere were edible. They have a bitter taste, so add honey. Dill: Has a pungent and sharp flavor, with a hint of sweetness. Gardenia: Contains a light and sweet flavor. Goldenrod: A mild tea with a hint of a bitter aftertaste. Hibiscus blossoms: Has an acidic, sour taste to it. Lavender (blossoms, leaves) : Very sweet, like a perfume. Sweet Marjoram: A Mediterranean herb with a sweet and spicy taste. Oregano: On the bitter side. Sweeten with honey to taste. Pansies (flowers, leaves) : Flavor ranges from sweet to tart. Parsley: On the bitter side, though Italian parsley is less bitter. Peppermint and other mints: Like you’re drinking an herbal, more subtle Listerine. It sounds gross, but it’s very refreshing and invigorating. Fresh peppermint gives the strongest flavor. Pine needles: Has a fresh, citrusy taste to it. Raspberry leaves: Tastes similar to black tea with a more mild and fruity bent. Rosemary: This tea is said to have a very pine taste to it, very savory. Roses (petals, leaves, rose hips) : Very sweet and aromatic. Sage: A deep, spiced flavor. Very rich. Go light on this one, it can be problematic in large doses. Stinging nettle: Has a grassy taste, but is smooth. Thyme: A sweet and light taste. Lemon Verbena: Characterized by a lemony and sweet taste. Violets (flowers, leaves) : Also has a very sweet flavor to it. Harvesting and drying The National Garden Association has some good tips on harvesting your plants. Try to harvest when plants are in bud; that is when the flavors are supposed to be the most concentrated. Although there’s nothing wrong with just taking the leaves and blossoms of the plant during growing season. You can cut the plant back by two-thirds, as a general rule. If you’d like to dry your herbs for later use, you can simply set them out in a dry area on a tray and turn them twice a day until dry. If you want to go for a more speedy approach, Gardening Know How recommends putting a single layer of herbs in a food dehydrator or nuking them in the microwave. For the microwave, dry in short intervals of less than a minute. Don’t leave the plant unattended or you will burn it. Place the herbs on a paper towel and leave the door open between heating sessions to let the moisture escape. Use caution As you can see, you can find a lot of these herbs right in your pantry, and they are extremely easy to grow in a garden, whether outside or in a container. As a word of caution, however: Make sure to research a plant before consumption. Don’t just go throwing nature into a pot and assume it’s good for you. The herbs above are well-known edible plants, but for instance, even sage comes with the warning to not consume it in large doses over an extended period of time. You may have also heard about the striking benefits of herbal tea for every ailment under the sun. Most of those fall into the realm of folk medicine and have not been verified with studies. Even green tea, nature’s proposed panacea, has the verdict out on a lot of treatments, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Tread lightly and consult a doctor before using natural teas for medicinal reasons.

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