Making herbal teas from the garden is so simple and delicious that there’s no need to use the commercial herbal teas available at the supermarket.
Fresh or dried herbs can be used to make herbal teas and the benefit of picking them from your own garden is that you can be sure that no pesticides have been used.
In general, herbal teas are made by pouring freshly boiled water (though let sit for a minute first) over dried or crushed fresh herbs and then letting it steep for between 3 and 8 minutes depending on the stregth and flavour desired.
The flavour of herbal teas can vary from mild and sublte to strong and bitter so a certain amount of trial and error is necessary. Herbal tea is usually drunk black, but you can flavour herbal teas with a little sugar or honey, milk or slices of lemon, orange or lime if you prefer.
Herbs with a strong scent such as peppermint and rosemary contain a large amount of volatile oil which contains the flavour and aroma. To prevent losing these oils whilst the brew is steeping, cover the cup or pot with a lid.
Herbal teas are best drunk fresh. Some herbal teas can be quite useful around the home if not consumed. For example, lemon grass tea is toning for the skin and chamomile tea is useful to stop rotting off in seedlings.
TEA FOR ONE
There are some very pretty china tea cups that have a basket that sits inside in which the herbs are placed and a lid to sit on the top whilst steeping. These are often available at gift and craft shops.
Or herbal teas can be made directly in a normal cup using a small silver filter basket available in most supermarkets and cooking ware shops. The chosen leaves are simply packed in to the basket and placed into the cup with freshly boiled water poured over the top. A lid or saucer should be placed over the cup so that the oils remain in the tea and do not evaporate whilst steeping.
TEA FOR SEVERAL
Earthenware, glass or china tea pots with plastic or nylon filter baskets that lift out of the pot when the required strength has been reached are ideal. They allow better control over the strength and flavour of the tea and do not require a strainer when pouring. The plunger type coffee pots are pretty because you can see the tea but they have the disadvantage of the herbs remaining in the water, which affects the flavour over time.
Warning: Any herbs with a strong action should be avoided during pregnancy. Do not take herbal remedies if you are under any medication without checking with your doctor.