Guest blog by Elizabeth
A comfort beverage, tea gives you instant peace and calm. The herbal varieties especially encourage the drinker to relax, unwind and release tension, stress and frustration.
Making your own herbal teas is a rewarding hobby and ensures you know the source of all your tea ingredients. Your kids will love helping with the gardening, harvesting and brewing processes. Before you brew your next cup of tea, learn how to cultivate and harvest the herbs in your favorite herbal tea.
A large garden plot in your backyard or a small windowsill holds herbs you need for tea. Wherever you decide to grow the herbs, choose a sunny spot.
Remove all the old vegetation, and compost the soil thoroughly in your garden. Your herbs will grow best in nutrient-rich soil. Be sure to use organic compost, though, rather than compost with pesticides. You’ll be drinking the herbs in tea and don’t want your herbs exposed to dangerous chemicals.
Certain tea herbs, including mint, clover and lemon balm, spread quickly into other areas of your garden. Using containers limits this spreading. You could also use the herbs’ tendencies as opportunities to increase your tea supply. Simply transplant the herbs into another area of your garden or give them to friends, local schools for girls or neighbors.
When your tea plants mature, your mouth might start watering. With your gardening scissors, harvest the leaves and get ready to brew.
The leaves you want to cut are on the side branches that stem from the main branch. After you carefully cut the fresh leaves, bundle them together with rubber bands. Hang the bundles from a clothes hanger or herb dryer for several weeks or use a dehydrator to dry the leaves.
After the leaves dry, remove them gently from the stems. They’ll stay fresh in sealed jars or the freezer for up to two years.
Use the dried or fresh leaves to make tea. Simply boil a pot of water and let it cool for several minutes. Cut a cup of fresh leaves from your garden, wash them and place the leaves in the water. Let it steep for up to five minutes. Strain the tea into your mug, and add sweeteners or milk to taste.
Experimenting with different varieties of dried leaves is part of the herb gardening fun. Try mint with orange, lemon with chamomile or clover with raspberry.
Everyone appreciates a great cup of tea. You can proudly grow, harvest and brew your favorite flavors as a family in your backyard. With your children’s help, you’ll have plenty of ingredients for a relaxing cup of herbal tea.