Tea can knock the sleep out of your system early in the morning, is perfect to sip on to keep naps at bay in the afternoon and can soothe before going to bed in the evening. And did you know you could be growing plants to make into tea, even if you only have a small container garden to do it in? We asked Cassie Liversidge, an avid gardener and the author of a new book about plants perfect for making teas to share her five favorite, easy-to-grow plants for tea making, plus brewing instructions!
1. Mint (Mentha)
A well-known herbal tea, particularly good for digestion. Perfect to be grown in pots, as it is invasive in a garden. You can grow mint from seed, from a cutting or from a small plant. There is a huge range of unusual flavors such as lavender mint or ginger mint, which make delicious teas. They are easy to grow in sunny or part shaded position. To make a cup of mint tea, put three or four fresh leaves into an empty tea bag or teapot. Pour the boiled water (which should be 176 to 185 degrees Fahrenheit) over the tea and cover with a lid to trap the aroma. Steep for three minutes. Remove the tea bag or pour the tea from the teapot using a tea strainer.
2. Calendula (Calendula officinalis)
Probably the easiest plant to grow in my book. A great plant for children to grow, as the fantastical shaped seeds germinate in a few days. Sow the seeds now and you can be harvesting your flowers to make into tea in a few months. They like full sun and a moist soil so don’t allow your plants to dry out. Harvest the beautiful bright petals and young fresh leaves to make into tea. You can use the plant fresh or dry for use throughout the year. Calendula has a gentle and mild, sweet taste and is believed to be a good detox for your digestive system.
3. Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum)
A widely used culinary herb with a highly aromatic flavor. It is very easy to grow from seed and it can be sown anytime during the warmer months. Buy cilantro seed (coriander) cheaply at food stores in the spice section. It is a great tea to aid digestion and you can use the leaf and the seed for making tea. Sow your cilantro seed generously in a pot of potting soil. Cover with about ¼ inch of soil and keep the soil moist. You can harvest some of the leaves first (use fresh or dry for later use) but leave some plants in the pot to set seeds which can also be used for tea. Harvest the seeds when they are turning brown. Cilantro can be grown in a shadier space.
4. Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)
An ancient herb, native of southern Europe and western Asia. The leaves have a very strong lemon scent when rubbed, and the tiny flowers provide an important food source for bees. Grow lemon balm easily from seed and then transplant into containers. Harvest the leaves throughout the year once the plant is established. Pick the leaves off the stems, and use fresh, or dry them for later use. To dry, place the leaves on a tray near a radiator or on a warm windowsill, turning the leaves every so often until they are completely dry and crispy. Store all your dried teas in sealed glass containers in a dark cupboard. Lemon balm is thought to help lift spirits and improve memory.
5. Strawberries (Fragaria)
Are popular and easy fruits to grow in a limited space. They are full of vitamin C, and the fruit, flowers and leaves can all be used to make a nutritious tea. It is easiest to buy a small strawberry plant to begin with, as they can take a long time to germinate from seed. Strawberries like to be kept in full sun in a fairly sheltered position. Pot up your small strawberry plant into a larger container with good drainage holes in the bottom. Feed your strawberry plants once a month during the summer with an organic fertilizer such as seaweed and as with all plants remove any dead leaves to help prevent disease. Harvest your fruits and the young fresh leaves to use for tea. Slice the fruit very thinly and lay them on a fine mesh to dry near a radiator or in an oven on a very low heat (212 degrees Fahrenheit) until dry. Chop up the leaves and dry on a tray near a radiator or on a windowsill, turning every so often. Combine a pinch of leaves with four slices of dried fruit to make a delicious fruit tea.
For more information on what kind of plants to grow to make delicious teas, check out Cassie Liversidge's new book: Homegrown Tea, An Illustrated Guide to Planting, Harvesting, and Blending Teas and Tisanes, published by St. Martin’s Griffin.
Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this post are the personal views of the writer and this particular post was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the publisher, manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. However, the publisher did give us the book for review purposes.
(Image credits: Adrienne Breaux; Cassie Liversidge; St. Martin's Griffin)