Herbs for Tea

drmbearAugust 14, 2014

I've seen plenty of posts on here about problems with mints and maybe a few other tea herbs, but what I am interested in are favorites and other special things you grow for teas. There are some things I harvest and store separately for specific uses, but in general I make a combination of my weeds, dried using the dehydrator, and mixed and stored in sealed containers. Of course my favorite is this time of year when I can walk out and cut a random handful of a variety of things to shove into my large teapot. So what are your favorites?

I grow(in pots):
Peppermint
Spearmint
Apple Mint
Orange Mint
Chocolate Mint
Grapefruit Mint
Candy Cane Mint
Kentucky Gentleman Mint(variagated)
Some other random upright mint I dug up years ago
Lemon Grass
Lemon Balm(Melissa)
Lemon Verbena
Stevia
Pineapple Sage
In the yard:
Bee Balm (Bergomot) - several kinds
Anise Hyssop (new this year - good)
Calendula
Stinging Nettles (new this year)
Lemon Basil (But don't like much for tea)
Blossoming Oregano (just the flowers which my wife uses to help ease coughs during colds)
Getting established this year:
Rugosa Roses, for the hips
Thai Red Roselle, for the Hibiscus calyxes, save seeds for replanting
Black Currant Leaves - these are great, and I've had them before, but I'm getting them re-established this year
Raspberry Leaves

Any other ideas worth considering?

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drmbear

I'll post some pictures of some of my tea herbs - this is bee balm, probably the earliest available tea herb growing in my garden. Of course it would take over the yard if given the chance. It's already looking poorly in the picture, and it seems to have a powdery mildew on it this summer. Not wanting to take much from it at this point, but I harvested some of the blossoms to add to my blend today.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 1:00AM
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drmbear

Prior to the oregano flowering, I harvest a good amount to dry and add to a kind or Italian seasoning I make. But then we allow it to go to flower, because the blossoms make a very nice tea, that is not only tasty, but also something my Russian wife says her mother regularly gave them for coughs and colds when they were sick. Yes, I drink it when I have a cough because my wife encourages me to do so, but it really doesn't take that much prodding because it tastes good, and not at all like you'd expect oregano to taste.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 1:11AM
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gvozdika(8 OR)

You already have a long list, I would just add something very simple: strawberry leaves, dandelions, culinary sage, chamomile.
I love black current leaves tea but it does not grow well here. We used to use them for pickling too. You can try blackberry leaves also.
If you search this forum you'll find lots of suggestions on herbal teas.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 1:28AM
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drmbear

Here are a few of my pots with mints and lemon grass. Most of the mints survive with no problems through the winter, but several are sensitive to the extreme cold. I've moved things to more protected locations in the garage, or I'm thinking of a kind of portable greenhouse setup to protect the things that can stand some cold but can't handle extremes.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 9:55PM
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drmbear

Here is my Roselle patch. This is my first year growing this, and I had a lot of trouble with the germination of seeds early on. I went through two twenty-packs of seeds, and I only got these nine plants, but it seems these things are doing amazingly well. It is just now flowering, so in the next few weeks I'll start harvesting the hibiscus calyx's to use for tea. They seem extremely productive, so I'm excited. I'll allow some of the pods to mature, so hopefully I'll have seeds for next year to keep this going. It is something I'd like to continue to grow each year - red zinger tea, and the tart amazing flavor will be an amazing addition to my tea. And even though deer have been eating things nearby in my garden, they've completely left these alone.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 10:05PM
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Ninkasi(6ish Germany)

My favorite is lemon thyme, lovely variegated leaves, delicate flavor. In a bouquet of other herbs in tea the flavor is sweet and subtle. One of my favorites.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 4:44AM
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zzackey(8b GA)

The sweetest one I enjoy is stinging nettles. No sugar needed. I've also tried rosemary and basil.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 1:48PM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

drmbear-- be sure to search through back posts. Tea herbs are a popular topic and you can find some good info.

Stinging nettle along with roselle are the only ones on this list I drink with any regularity. Nettle grows awesomely here but our seasons are too short to grow roselle. I know I tried. But they are beautiful plants and did live for a bit as a houseplants but growing for tea was straight out. I love the iced roselle drink ("jamica") a local Mexican restaurant serves. Truly awesome.

FataMorgana

    Bookmark   August 20, 2014 at 9:21AM
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drmbear

This is a potted stevia, with its long spiky stems, about ready for harvest. When I first started growing stevia, I was woried that in order to get the sweetness into something I was eating or drinking, I actually needed to grind up the leaf itself, blended with a liquid or dried and ground to a powder. I was wrong - the sweetness of stevia infuses out nicely when making tea. In the summer, I'll grab a handful of my "weeds" from the garden, including a spike or two of stevia. I usually prefer my tea cold, and I learned over twenty years ago from a midwife that helped us with my daughter that letting teas steep longer times helps pull out more of the nutritional value of the herbs. So I will fill my teapot with my weeds, pour over the near boiling water, and let it steep until the pot cools or overnight. Then I pour the tea into a bottle for the fridge, and since my teapot was filled with herbs, I'll often do a second run, steeped even longer sometimes. Since the sweetness in stevia is not as much like the oils of many mints and other herbs, I have found the second run is often sweeter than the first run.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 11:22AM
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drmbear

When I harvest stevia for drying and saving for winter, I'll usually cut all the stems on the plant down to the first leaf joints. This works out well for the plant, as you can see it growing back in a nice, thick mound. It soon will have lots of long, spikey stems again, ready for another harvest. Here in zone 7 it is just not likely to survive during the winter kept outside, so as you can see I grow it in pots and have to move it into the house before winter.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 11:30AM
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