Growing Tea Herbs

Herbs are normally thought to be divided into culinary herbs and medicinal herbs. Tea herbs are another classification that cuts across the other two. Some are drunk purely for their flavor and aroma, and some are drunk more for their medicinal properties. If you’re thinking of growing tea herbs, here are some of the best:

Lemon basil. This makes a delicious tea with a mix blooming flower tea of lemon and basil flavors. Add a little honey if you have a sweet tooth. Note that lemon basil is an annual, and a very delicate one in terms of cold – outside, it’ll die off at the first hint of frost.

  • Chamomile. Chamomile tea has been used as a night-time calmative and gentle insomnia remedy for thousands of years. It’s very hardy and therefore easy to grow in almost any conditions.
  • Fennel. Fennel tea is made with the seeds of the fennel plant, and it’s a remedy for mild indigestion. It grows to about 18-24 inches, likes full sun, and is sensitive to overwatering.
  • Lemon balm. Lemon balm is an easy-to-grow herb with a nice, delicate citrusy flavor. It lowers blood pressure and is a calmative when taken as a tea. A little honey is a great addition if you prefer it that way.
  • Peppermint. Peppermint tea should need little introduction – it’s one of the best-known herbal teas there is. It’s a really tasty tea and it also helps with gastrointestinal upset. Take care when growing peppermint outside, as it will attempt to take over your entire garden if you let it!
  • Rose hips. Tangy rose hip tea is loaded with vitamin C, which never hurts for warding off colds in the winter months. So what are rose hips? A lot of people don’t know, but rose hips are the part of the rose that’s left after the blooms die off. They should be harvested when they’re red (not deep red), then cut open – it’s the seeds and pith that are used to make tea.
  • Rosemary. Rosemary tea, perhaps a lesser-known herbal tea preparation, stimulates circulation and the liver. Rosemary is a perennial, but will need to be brought indoors during the winter in colder locations.
  • Sage. Sage tea can relieve the symptoms of menopause, such as night sweats and hot flushes. The taste of sage blends well with lemon, so consider mixing it with a lemon-scented herb.

To make a tea from your fresh herbs, use about five leaves per cup of boiling water. Crush the leaves before adding them to your tea pot to release their essential oils. Add them, then cover and allow it to steep for about five minutes (note that covering the pot is particularly important, as otherwise you’ll lose essential oils in the steam. If you’re using dried herbs rather than fresh, two teaspoons per cup of water is the right amount to substitute, or one teaspoon for seeds.