Advertisement

Archive for Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Tea time: Fresh herbs grown in your garden spruce up hot, cold drinks

Mint, lemon balm, anise hyssop and basil are some of the herbs that can be used to make tea.

Mint, lemon balm, anise hyssop and basil are some of the herbs that can be used to make tea.

June 18, 2008

Advertisement

A cup of tea at breakfast or over lunch is one of life's simple indulgences. It's even more special - and not much more difficult - if you grow the herbs yourself.

Many of the best tea herbs are easy to grow, beautiful, and naturally resistant to pests. Even if you don't have garden space, many delightful tea herbs will grow in containers on a porch or windowsill.

"By growing my own tea, I have total freedom to pick the herbs to suit my mood or revitalize my palette," says avid herb-grower Jekka McVicar, author of "The Complete Herb Book."

Mint is a must - consider species with other subtle flavors including apple, pineapple, chocolate, orange, ginger and lemon. Daisy-like chamomiles can also cheer up any garden and make a soothing tea.

Once you've chosen your herbs, it's as easy to harvest, dry, store and brew:

Harvest

Many herbs, particularly those in the mint family, prefer to be trimmed regularly with clean, sharp snips. This keeps them healthy, bushier, and gives you an abundance of herbs for fresh and dry teas.

"Harvest early in the morning before the oils have come out. If you wait until later in the day, they're not as pungent," recommends Marietta Marshall Marcin, author of "Herbal Tea Gardens."

Dry

To dry your herbs, simply place them loosely in a brown paper bag or a medium-weave basket. Baskets are handy if you have a lot of herbs to dry because they can be stacked to save space yet allow good air flow, says Tammi Hartung, herbalist and author of "Growing 101 Herbs that Heal."

Place them in a warm, dry spot with good airflow and ideally out of direct sunlight. For example, you may stack baskets on a sheltered porch or place the bag in a warm car with cracked windows.

Check the herbs daily for dryness by crumbling it between your fingers or rubbing it against your lip to feel if the plant is still moist.

Store

Once dry, immediately strip the leaves and flowers from the stems and store them in a glass jar in a cool, dark, dry place, like a pantry or kitchen cupboard. They should keep their color and flavor for six months to a year or longer.

Brew

¢ Dry Tea: Most of us are familiar with dried herbal teas. To use your own loose herbs, pour one cup of near-boiling water over one teaspoon to one tablespoon of dried, crumbled herb. Let sit for five to 15 minutes, strain and enjoy. Use a simple strainer, a mesh tea ball, a special teapot, or fill your own "Press & Brew" tea bags.

¢ Fresh Tea: Enjoy your herbs straight from the garden with a fresh herbal tea. Bring two cups of water to a near-boil. Turn off the heat, and stir in a large handful of fresh herbs (no need to chop). Feel free to add a splash of juice or sliced fruit like lemon or orange wedges, raspberries or strawberries. Cover, and let steep for at least 15 minutes. Strain into teacups and enjoy.

¢ Sun Tea: To make a sun tea, use the same proportions in either of these techniques, but let it steep the herbs in lukewarm water in the sun for several hours to a day before straining.

¢ Iced Tea: On a hot day, turn your favorite blend into iced tea by doubling the quantity of herb and then straining it over a full glass of ice. Or make a regular pot of tea and put it in the fridge until it's chilled.

Comments

Multidisciplinary 5 years, 9 months ago

Good luck on that one.hehe.My ex was happy when he learned his GI Joe and other things were now worth a lot of money. He called his mom, who informed him she had gotten rid of that stuff long ago. He was angry, the kind of angry that lasts forever. So he also started buying toys that you might not think of collecting. Those lego pirates and ships, etc. In boxes. He had a empty room under the garage that he planned to fill.He's changed houses 3 times now, I don't know if he still harbors such fantasies.The sucky part of this, is he was spending money that was needed more for other things..like his special needs son. Medicine for this children and wife.Getting out of debt.You know, those little, unimportant things.

0

Pywacket 5 years, 9 months ago

Great observations! You'd get a kick out of my husband. I think he saw one too many "Antiques Roadshow"s before our son was born and/or we had a few too many rueful discussions about what our (fill in the childhood toy blank) would be worth if our moms hadn't thrown them out.He decided that he could fund our son's college education with Hot Wheels cars. From the time the kid was born until he was maybe 5 or 6, Daddy would buy 2 of every Hot Wheels he could get his hands on--one to unwrap and let the kid play with and one to save, untouched, in its packaging. He has their vehicle numbers all documented, too. I think they probably will be worth something, in such pristine state, some day.. But probably not by the time The Kid is ready to hit university. Maybe when his own kid is that age...

0

Multidisciplinary 5 years, 9 months ago

Thanks Py,I used to go to garage sales, where these 45-60 yr old ladies would have a couple of card tables of beanies, put in ziplocks and labeled $5, 10, 20. Their grandchildren would be visiting, running around the place. The house would be in need of paint, gutter repairs, shrubbery grown to heck. I'd look at the kids, look at the beanies, look back at the kids..I mean, there would be enough money expended on this "money maker!" to buy a year's textbooks for a few of these kids.I also enjoyed going to flea markets, antique malls, etc where people would have hanging racks of McDonald's Happy Meal toys still in the bag...then put in another bag..and priced at $1.00, hoping someone would think in 75 years, these would be a "rare collectable". Kind of like Pez dispensers, few thought to save them, thus..a market.Always on the look out for data of the absurd (why do you think I read the threads so often? lol), I would sometimes innocently ask why the price was so high? So I could hear their reasoning.That was always amazing to hear.

0

Pywacket 5 years, 10 months ago

MD~ That's hilarious! You need to apply for a grant, then submit your findings to JAMA. I'm sure you've hit upon a pertinent psychological insight.

0

Multidisciplinary 5 years, 10 months ago

I found many who "lived by" sun tea were also most likely to invest in beanie babies for their children's and grandchildren's college expenses.I privately believe beenie baby investment to be responsible for most of America's financial woes.That and Barbie 'collectibles' still in the box, and the American Girl series.;D

0

Pywacket 5 years, 10 months ago

Ronda~ I've never understood why people brew sun tea. Take away the romantic idea of the sun's involvement and what do you have? Inadequately brewed, weak-flavored brown water. Proper tea (whether served hot or cold) starts with fresh water brought to a rolling boil. This is the only way to release all those complex flavors from the tea leaves. A tasty herbal addition to iced tea: crushed borage leaves. They impart a refreshing cucumber-like flavor. Their clear blue flowers are completely edible, too--sugared, they make a pretty and tasty garnish for tea cakes. Or scatter them (unsugared) in a salad, along with bright nasturtium flowers or rose petals. Just make sure none of these have been sprayed with insecticides before using them in the kitchen.

0

Ronda Miller 5 years, 10 months ago

Warning about making sun tea - it is usually recommended that people NOT make it because of the bacteria that grows and causes illness.

0

Multidisciplinary 5 years, 10 months ago

I'm reminded of the scene in Saving Grace, where the tea ladies brew up some illegal brew by accident.Great movie!

0

sdinges 5 years, 10 months ago

Be careful planting mint in your garden, as it grows like a weed and can easily take over - even choking out other plants.If you want to take the risk, I'd suggest growing it in a barrel, separate from the garden or lawn, since the roots can infiltrate through the bottom of the barrel.

0

Commenting has been disabled for this item.