Having freshly brewed tea within reach is one of life’s simple pleasures. With quite a number of tea combinations that are commercially available in the market, it can be an interesting project to create a small pocket garden filled with the best herbs for tea and make your own. In this article, let’s talk about some of the best herbs worth brewing and get a brief idea of how one might go about growing them in their home.
Why Growing Your Own Herbs is Always a Good Idea
Growing your own herbs carries a long list of benefits over buying them from the store, and this applies to both fresh and dry herbs. Dry herbs can be sitting on the shelf for quite a while, whereas fresh herbs may not be as fresh as they seem. The greatest advantage of growing your own is that you know what’s going into your cup, because you are fully immersed in the process of growing the herbs until the time of harvest.
Another advantage is the uncompromising freshness. The time between harvesting and brewing is just minutes in between for fresh brew leaves, and this is something no store-bought herb can offer. This ensures the best flavor, along with freedom from preservatives, pesticides, and other contaminants.
Some people might hand-wave that fresh herbs make the tea better, but believe me, it does. You’ll never want to go back to store bought herbs again.
When you are wholeheartedly involved in growing your herbs, a cup of tea also becomes a cup of joy.
Best Herbs for Tea
For centuries, humanity has been brewing tea and discovering new recipes involving herbs. Some are revered for their health benefits, while others are sought after for their calming aroma, which enhances the tea drinking experience. Here are some of the best herbs that we recommend, with a brief glimpse on how to take care of them.
There are quite a number of mint species that can be used as tea, but all of them share a common characteristic: a fresh, cooling taste and smell that calm the senses. The most popular ones are peppermint and spearmint, both of which work well with other herbs and flavors depending on your liking.
Mint is an herb that favors partial shade with moist, well-draining soil. There is a heavy emphasis on well-draining soil as this herb doesn’t thrive well with soggy soil and will quickly die if overwatered. They can be grown from runners, plants, and seeds and are relatively easy to grow.
The most flavorful version of mint is when it is brewed fresh, where you can simply pinch some leaves and steep them. For extra flavor, crush or muddle the leaves before adding the water. Should you prefer brewing dried leaves for a more subtle flavor, add one teaspoon of leaves in the infuser and steep.
Fennel carries a warm and soothing taste that complements a lot of herbs making it a great addition with another herb. It is one of the most preferred herbs to help digestion, and is a perfect tea for after meals. It is also one of the herbs in this list where the key part of the plant for brewing is its seeds, although its leaves can also be brewed as tea.
This sun-loving herb is very easy to grow in your backyard or indoors where it can typically be cultivated as a perennial herb. This means you will be rewarded with seeds almost all-year round. Give it about 6 hours of indirect light, and make sure not to overwater.
When brewing dried fennel seeds you only need about a teaspoon of seeds and should steep them for a few minutes. Should you prefer brewing the leaves, you can take several fronds, which you should crush or muddle, before steeping them to get the most flavor out of the leaves.
Lemon Balm is an interesting herb that has the cooling effect of mint and the citrusy notes of lemon. Similar to the Fennel, Lemon Balm is consumed to provide relief from stomach issues, and it can also reduce stress and promote sleep. While Lemon Balm tea can be consumed anytime, it is one of those teas recommended to be taken just before bedtime as it has a poignant calming effect for many.
Growing Lemon Balm
Lemon Balm is a happy camper, and it can literally grow under almost any soil condition. However, they thrive best in rich but well-draining soil under full sun. If you wish to keep a Lemon Balm indoors, make sure it still gets enough sunlight, using grow lights if needed.
Brewing Lemon Balm
Lemon Balm can be brewed fresh or dried depending on your liking. You can use a few leaves to steep, but you can intensify the flavor by crushing the leaves prior to brewing. For brewing dried Lemon Balm, simply add a teaspoon of dried leaves into the infuser to steep.
This list won’t be complete without one of the most popular herbs whenever we talk about tea. Chamomile is well-known for its calming properties, which makes it a popular after dinner or bedtime tea, thanks to its naturally fruity flavor. While there are a variety of chamomile teas available on the market, nothing beats the intense flavor when it’s freshly grown and harvested.
Growing chamomile is quite easy, the best way to grow it is from seeds which take about two weeks to germinate. Most chamomile types grow well in partial shade, though they can also grow in full sun. Check the soil before watering, and make sure to provide a container with proper drainage as chamomile does not like to be waterlogged.
Brewing fresh or dried flower heads will yield tea that carries a unique apple-like flavor that is mild to the taste. You will need a couple of flower heads to steep, depending on the intensity of the flavor you desire. More flowers will lead to a stronger taste while fewer can lead to a more subtle flavor.
Another herb that is a fixture on any herb list for tea is lavender. It has a strong, flowery aroma that helps relieve sleeplessness and aids in relaxation. Lavender is also a great tea to take before bedtime.
Growing Lavender is not as easy as most herbs in this list, but it is still not as challenging as many other plants. Lavender can be grown in pots or garden beds with well-draining soil. They thrive in full sun, and need a good amount per day for optimal growth. Not only does lavender make an excellent tea, but its bright color and enticing aroma are rewards in and of itself.
Brewing fresh or dried Lavender, you only need some flower buds that must be steeped for approximately five minutes. This duration is long enough to release the aroma that will surely calm the senses and give your tea that unique flavoring.
Ginger is another wonderful herb that goes great alone in teas, or paired with other flavors. Ginger and chamomile, for example, make an excellent pairing and are often combined together. Ginger’s taste is very unique, and you’ll be able to instantly pick it out on your palate.
Ginger is grown from roots, so start by acquiring fresh ones to grow from. Ginger likes a few hours of bright sunlight per day, so an area that gets morning sun with afternoon shade is ideal. Make sure to check their soil before watering, and keep them warm in a relatively humid area.
You’ll want to peel and grate your ginger before steeping to unlock its flavor. Then, steep your grated ginger for about 5 minutes for optimal flavoring. Many tea enthusiasts will also swear by adding a dash of honey to their ginger tea which is said to bring out the ginger’s flavor without overpowering it.
Best Herbs For Tea
For tea lovers, having a herb garden is a no brainer. There is nothing better than being able to pick fresh herbs, and brew a delicious tea with them.
The above herbs are our picks for making tea, but there are so many more options out there. Nearly any herb can be used to make tea, and imparts its own unique flavor into it. Take some time, experiment, and find the herbs that let you make that absolutely perfect cup.
Did we miss your favorite? Let us know! We love to hear from our readers and learn more about what types of plants they grow in their gardens.