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How to make tea from the organic herbs in your garden

I’m a coffee drinker but I also like tea, especially herb tea. My radio show on Sunday mornings starts with a quick review of the day’s tea and the opening sip. Herb tea is a great by-product of organic gardening.

Fresh ginger is one of my favorite ingredients. I use a piece of fresh ginger about tablespoon size cut into slivers. My other ingredients vary but often include thyme, basil, garden sage, Meyer lemon, apple cider vinegar and honey.

I start with filtered water brought to just short of boiling in a glass kettle such as the Whistling Kettle. I crush the fresh leaves, root pieces and/or appropriate flowers and put them in a ceramic (glazed inside and out) teapot. Boiling water can damage many of the health-giving properties of the culinary and medicinal herbs. Let the tea steep for a few minutes (the longer it steeps, the stronger it gets).

You can do from 3 to 10 minutes depending on your taste. Tannic acid increases with time and will make the tea bitter. Another thing that will make the tea stronger is leaving the woody stems on the sprigs. I pull the leaves off and toss the stems.

Bay leaves on bay tree

After steeping, strain out the solids add honey, stevia, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar or other flavors. These ingredients shouldn’t be added until the tea has cooled down a bit. Commercial teas can also be added to your own herbs. Japanese green tea is my favorite. It tastes great and is reported to help prevent degenerative diseases. It does contain some caffeine.

Other herbs I enjoy in my teas tea include lemon verbena, peppermint, anise hyssop, bay, rosemary, basil, sage, fennel, lemongrass, oregano, spearmint and chamomile. The flowers of hibiscus, begonia and Turk’s cap can also be used. Elderberry fruit and leaves as well as strawberry, raspberry and blackberry fruit and leaves are also excellent in teas. Rose is a greatly underused herb and can be used in teas for taste and its medicinal benefits. 

Herb gardens can be beautiful and are well worth planting if for no other reason than a source for herb teas. 

Herbal teas can be made with sage, ginger, thyme and basil 

Unused tea also has uses. It can be poured 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. Toss a couple of fresh leaves into your iced drink for additional flavor. Unused tea can also be frozen into ice cubes to be used in drinks later. 


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