Spring is the perfect time to get outside and enjoy all the fresh, green bounty springing up in our gardens. A simple activity to experience some of the aromatic and healthful plants in your garden is to make tea from freshly cut herbs. Making tea from freshly cut herbs from your own yard is an easy and rewarding task. Some of the most commonly used herbs are Peppermint and Spearmint. These herbs are extremely easy to grow and usually provide more than enough leaves for making tea many times throughout the season. But just about any herb you grow can be brewed into a delicious tea. Your yard may also already have delicious and nutritious wild herbs growing in it such as Wild Violet, Dandelion, Plantain, Stinging Nettle, Purslane, Chickweed and Cleavers. Common backyard "weeds" can also be foraged for delicious and healthy teas. If you choose to harvest wild herbs be sure to check a field guide for proper identification if you are unsure if the plant is safe to ingest. I never harvest plants that may have been treated with chemicals.
Some of my favorites for fresh teas are Sage leaf, Chamomile flower, Rosemary leaf, Lemon Balm leaf, and of course Peppermint leaf. Starting with one herb as your primary flavor and throwing in a little bit of another herb can create an interesting tasting tea. For example start with mostly Peppermint leaves and add a bit of Sage leaves or try adding the petals from a rose or some Lavender buds.
Herb teas made from fresh herbs tend to taste a bit weaker than those made from dried herbs. So, I usually gather more herb than I think I’ll need and then actually use all of it that way my tea will have the stronger flavor that I prefer. I suggest gathering enough herb to make at least a pot of tea (about 4-6 cups). It helps if you can take the same pot you’re going to brew your tea in (or a mason jar or bowl about the same size) out to the garden with you then cut enough herb to fill the pot about 3/4 full. If possible cut your herbs in the morning to ensure the best flavor.
Easy steps for making your own herbal tea:
1.) Cut the stem off close to the ground leaving at least two sets of leaves on each stem so your plant will continue to grow or select only the tender new leaves at the top of the plant
2.) Avoid yellowish, bug eaten or spotted leaves
3.) Wash the herbs under cold water or dunk them into a sink of cold water and shake off excess water
4.) Remove the leaves from the stems for the best flavor and put them in a pot
5.) Pour boiling water over the herbs to just covering the herb
6.) Use a long spoon to carefully bruise the herb by pressing the spoon into the herb against the sides of the pot
7.) Place a lid on the pot and let steep for up to a half hour
8.) Strain the tea through a mesh strainer, cheesecloth or colander
9.) Pour into a container of storage: stainless steel, ceramic and glass are preferable glass mason jars are a great option
10.) Chill and enjoy
A pot of tea can be refrigerated for about five days.
Maria and Ingrid are Co Owners of STL Herbs and Aromatics. They have been working in the field of Herbal and Aromatic Medicine for over twenty years. This blog is intended to inform and empower people to begin utilizing plant medicine for personal health and well being.