Are you ready to start growing, harvesting, and brewing your own herbal teas? Loaded with unique flavor profiles and health benefits, there’s more than meets the eye to these healing beverages.
We’ll delve into the best tea herbs to grow in your garden (even as a beginner), what makes them so great, and how to brew your very own herbal tea at home.
Mint tea is refreshingly cool and aromatic, with a slightly sweet taste. Its soothing properties can aid digestion and relieve headaches. It’s also known for its potential to alleviate symptoms of headaches and common colds, making it a comforting brew during winter months.
Chamomile tea has a floral, slightly sweet taste and is known for its calming properties. It’s often recommended as a natural sleep aid. Additionally, chamomile can help soothe digestive issues and may strengthen the immune system.
This herb yields a pleasant lemony tea with a hint of mint. Lemon balm tea is known for its calming effects, helping to reduce anxiety and promote sleep. It’s also used to alleviate digestive problems and boost cognitive function.
Lavender tea has a unique floral flavor with a hint of mint and rosemary. It’s most commonly used for its calming and soothing effects, making it a perfect bedtime tea. Lavender is also believed to support the immune system and aid digestion.
Rosemary tea has an earthy flavor that’s both refreshing and invigorating. It’s rich in antioxidants and known for its potential to boost memory and concentration. Additionally, rosemary has a slew of anti-inflammatory properties.
Fennel tea is sweet, with a distinct licorice-like flavor. It’s well known for its digestive benefits, including relieving bloating and gas. Fennel also has diuretic properties and may help detoxify the body.
Lemongrass tea is citrusy and slightly sweet. It’s uplifting and refreshing, making it a popular choice for a morning or midday refreshment. Lemongrass is rich in antioxidants and is often used for its believed ability to relieve anxiety and reduce inflammation.
Echinacea tea has a strong, earthy flavor. It’s often used for its immune-boosting properties, particularly to alleviate symptoms of the common cold and flu. Some research also suggests that echinacea may have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits.
Sage tea has a robust, slightly peppery flavor. It’s rich in antioxidants and is often consumed for its potential cognitive benefits. Sage may also aid digestion and provide relief for sore throats, making it a great option for cold & flu season.
Thyme tea has a flavor profile that is earthy, sweet, and minty all at once. Known for its potent antiviral, antimicrobial, and antifungal properties, it’s another tea you’ll want to brew during the fall & winter.
Your own tea garden can transform a normal cup of tea into a healing, ritualistic experience that centers your mind & body. And if you’re new to growing tea herbs, don’t worry – it’s easier than you think.
Depending on your living space, your garden may look a bit different from others – that’s okay. Choose a suitable location in your garden, balcony, or windowsill that receives at least 4-6 hours of sunlight daily.
Choose one or more of the herbs from the above list, depending on your taste & health preferences. Chamomile tea is one of the most widely-consumed herbal teas in the world, but if your goal isn’t better sleep or improved digestion, you may opt for another tea. Similarly, if you’re looking for a more earthy flavor profile, opt for rosemary instead of chamomile.
You should also consider your environmental conditions, specifically your local climate (indoors vs. outdoors), soil conditions, amount of space, and the plant’s growth habit (perennials vs. annuals). Think about health benefits – echinacea boosts immunity while lavender calms.
Remove any existing weeds, grass, or stones from your garden area. These compete with your herbs for nutrients and water, so it’s important to start with a clean slate. Use a garden fork or tiller to break up the soil. This process, known as tilling, aerates the soil, making it easier for herb roots to penetrate and grow. Aim for a depth of about 8-12 inches to ensure the roots of your herbs have enough space.
Add a 2-3 inch layer of compost or well-rotted manure to your garden area to enrich the soil, ensuring your herbs grow healthily. Use your garden fork to mix the compost into the soil.
You can plant new herbs in one of three ways: from seeds, seedlings, or cuttings. Seeds are the cheapest option but usually take the longest to grow. You could opt for a head start with seedlings, young plants that are ready to be transplanted. Or you could plant cuttings, which are parts of mature plants that are rooted to grow into new ones. Make sure to follow the instructions on the seed packets or plant labels to prevent overcrowding, and ensure that every herb receives adequate light, water, and nutrients.
Herbs are no different than most other plants; they need regular watering to thrive. Water regularly to keep the soil moist, but not waterlogged, which can result in root rot. Most herbs prefer soil slightly dry between waterings. You can easily check this by touching the soil. If it’s dry an inch below the surface, it’s time to water the soil again.
Regularly trim your herbs, focusing on dead or diseased parts, to promote bushier growth and overall plant health. Use a clean, sharp pair of gardening scissors to cut just above a set of leaves or side shoots to encourage bushier growth. Cut at a 45 degree angle and don’t remove more than a third of the plant at a time to maximize growth & health.
Harvest your tea herbs in the morning after the dew has evaporated, but before the heat of the day. This timing ensures peak concentration of flavorful and beneficial essential oils. Always use clean, sharp scissors to prevent plant damage. Cut stems above a leaf joint to encourage new growth, and remember not to harvest more than a third of the plant at a time to prevent stressing the plant.
After harvesting, it’s time to dry your herbs & prepare your tea! Rinse your herbs under cold water and pat dry. Bundle the stems and hang them upside down in a warm, well-ventilated area away from sunlight. They’ll take anywhere from 4-14 days to dry, depending on the type of herb. Once dried, remove leaves from stems and store in a cool, dark place in an airtight container.
Time to brew – add 1 tsp of dried (or 1 tbsp of fresh herbs) per cup of boiling water to a teapot or infuser. Let it steep for 5-10 minutes, strain, and enjoy with optional additions like honey or lemon.
Glowing and then brewing your own herbal tea is a rewarding & enriching experience. From the cool freshness of mint to the invigorating punch of rosemary, these teas offer a relatively untapped world of flavors and health benefits to discover. Armed with the knowledge of how to plant, nurture, and harvest these herbs, you can transform your daily cup of tea into a holistic ritual.