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    TX Organic Research Center

   


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Herb Tea
 


 

I start the first hour of my Sunday radio show every week with a special feature called “In Howard’s Garden.” I talk about what to plant, what and how to fertilize, what to prune, etc. – all timely recommendations. I also talk about the herb tea I have made and brought with me to sip during the show. Herb tea is one of the best by-products of organic gardening. My favorite herbs for tea include lemon verbena, peppermint (especially chocolate peppermint), thyme, anise hyssop, ginkgo, bay, rosemary, fennel, lemongrass, oregano, spearmint, and chamomile. The flowers of linden, hibiscus, begonia, sambac jasmine, and Turk’s cap can also be used. I also use young witch hazel leaves along with blackberries and blackberry leaves.

To prepare herb teas, I simply pick fresh leaves or appropriate flowers from herbs, crush them and put in a teapot and pour in hot water after bringing it to just short of a boil. I use a glass kettle, filtered water and a ceramic teapot. Boiling water destroys many of the healthy vitamins. In fact, letting the boiling water cool down slightly before pouring is a good idea.  

Herb gardens are worth planting if for no other reason than a source for herb teas. Try some herb tea every day. Pick fresh leaves, crush them and put in the tea pot. Let the brew steep from 3 to 10 minutes depending on your taste. Tannic acid increases with time and will make the tea bitter. A single herb or a mix of various plants can be used.


Often  I use chocolate peppermint and fennel as a base and add various other herbs to create different tastes. A good lemony tea for example is lemongrass, lemon verbena and lemon balm.

Natural teas are great to me with nothing added, but lemon juice or honey can be added for taste. By the way, it really is important to use clean, filtered water. Chlorine and other contaminants can ruin the taste and quality of any good drink, as well as your health. Real tea can also be added to the herbs. Japanese green tea is my favorite. It tastes great and is reported to help prevent degenerative diseases. It does contain some caffeine.

Unused tea also has uses. Pour on the plants as a liquid fertilizer after it has cooled. The tea can also be put into your foliar spray solution. The other use is to drink it cold over ice the next day. Toss a couple of fresh leaves into your iced drink for additional flavor. The unused tea can also be frozen into ice cubes to be used in other drinks later.

The rose is a greatly underused herb. Roses can be used in teas for taste and as a health drink. Rose tea can be made from petals and is believed to fortify the heart and brain, to help female problems, stomach disorders and other ailments. Hips, which are the colorful fruits that follow the flowers, are particularly high in vitamins A,B,E, and especially C.

To make a wonderful tea from roses, use the flower petals before they unfold or the hips after they mature to a red color in the fall. Opened flower petals taste good but won’t have as much of the health-giving vitamins and minerals. Use 1 teaspoon of dried or 2 teaspoons of fresh petals for each cup of hot water. Add a little honey and enjoy hot or cold. The rugosa roses have large hips that are the richest in vitamin C.

Don’t do any of this if you are still spraying with the systemic, toxic poisons. If you are still using these unnecessary chemical contaminants like Dursban, diazinon, Orthene, Orthonex, Funginex, Sevin, kelthane or any other toxic pesticide – stop! The synthetics are dangerous and a waste of money. If you don’t know how to avoid the harsh chemicals in your rose program, I can help. See the Organic Rose Program. Try all the wonderful culinary herbs in your teas and let me know which are your favorites.

  
Best Tea Herbs Parts used for Tea
Agrimony                   Flowers, leaves and stems
Angelica                   Leaves, seeds and roots 
Anise hyssop           Leaves, flowers and seed 
Basil                       Leaves 
Bay                     Leaves
Blackberry                Leaves
Borage     Leaves and flowers 
Burdock                     Root and seed 
Calendula                Flowers 
Caraway                 Seed
Catnip                   Leaves 
Chamomile               Flowers 
Chicory                   Root 
Chrysanthemum             Flowers
Clover              Leaves and flowers 
Coriander                  Leaves, flowers and seed
Dandelion    Leaves and roots 
Dill            Leaves
Echinacea      Roots, flowers, leaves and seed 
Elecampane        Root
Fennel     Leaves, seed 
Fenugreek        Leaves and seed
Feverfew                    Leaves and flowers
Flax                    Seed 
Garlic                    Cloves 
Ginger                      Roots
Ginkgo                    Leaves 
Ginseng                    Roots
Goldenrod          Young leaves and flowers 
Gotu Kola                 Leaves, stems and roots 
Hibiscus                   Flowers 
Hollyhock                   Flowers (petals only)
Horehound                   Leaves
Hyssop                     Leaves, stems and flowers
Lavender                  Flowers 
Lemon balm                 Leaves 
Lemon verbena          Leaves 
Licorice                  Root 
Linden                    Flowers
Lovage                      Roots
Marjoram                   Leaves 
Marsh mallow        Roots and leaves
Mint                       Leaves and flowers 
Monarda                    Leaves and flowers
Mugwort                    Leaves and flowers
Mullein                    Leaves and flowers
Oregano                  Leaves
Parsley                    Leaves 
Pepper                  Fruit 
Raspberry               Leaves
Rose                     Petals and hips
Rosemary                  Leaves and flowers
Sage                        Leaves
Salad Burnet                 Leaves
Sambac jasmine           Flowers
Savory                      Leaves
Saw Palmetto                Berries
Scented geranium         Leaves 
Strawberry                Leaves
Thyme             Leaves 
Violet                      Leaves and flowers
Yarrow  Flowers


 

Herb tea continues to be an important part of my life. I enjoy herb tea both for its health benefits and for the variety. I could brew a different herb tea each day for at least a year. And, herb tea is a great example of the financial benefits of being organic. A two-liter bottle of soda - with its unhealthy refined sugar or sugar substitute and artificial coloring - costs upwards from a dollar. If you grow your own herbs, herb tea costs next to nothing. Some herbs perk you up. Others soothe you to restful rejuvenating sleep. Some teas just taste good. If you prepare herb tea per my directions, you’ll enjoy a healthful beverage free of artificial sweeteners and preservatives.  

 


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