Author Topic: Does anyone grow and dry their own herbal teas?  (Read 7868 times)

shelivesthedream

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Does anyone grow and dry their own herbal teas?
« on: March 04, 2016, 12:07:11 PM »
I'm a big fan of herbal teas (or tisanes if you are Belgian) and would like to start growing my own. We already have mint on the balcony, but I am looking for other suggestions - particularly for plants that will dry well and last several months without losing their flavour. So far on my list to try are chamomile and sage. I'd also be grateful for any non-obvious drying and storage instructions!

cnash1303

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Re: Does anyone grow and dry their own herbal teas?
« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2016, 02:56:51 PM »
I've never made any myself, but I have been given a lot of fancy teas for Christmas. Dried orange peel is a good one, and many other dried fruit peels.

cerat0n1a

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Re: Does anyone grow and dry their own herbal teas?
« Reply #2 on: March 04, 2016, 03:48:57 PM »
Mint & lemon balm are nice in drinks and dead easy to grow - basically weeds that will spread everywhere if you let them. I tend to freeze  leaves rather than dry, although you'll be able to pick fresh leaves for most of the year. Microwave works really well for drying, if you have one.

Some people use Thyme, don't like it myself, but also easily grown. If you go for Chamomile, be aware that there are flowering and non-flowering varieties. I've got Bergamot and Fennel in the garden, don't use either for teas, but some people do. Some people like Borage tea, another easily grown herb, with attractive flowers.

Rosy

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Re: Does anyone grow and dry their own herbal teas?
« Reply #3 on: March 04, 2016, 05:56:00 PM »
Oh, you can make tea from borage? I have the loveliest, healthiest borage plant. I use it in my salads and I like the flowers for decoration in an ice cube in summer drinks.
My (huge-out of control) plant has an intense flavor, stronger than I remember from my garden in Germany.

I was going to suggest lemon balm and orange mint as a nice combo. Lemon verbena is totally different and delicious, (awesome with fish) but you may not have the right climate for it in the UK. I live in Florida and it is definitely a sun lover.
Chocolate mint is one of my faves for both cooking (with carrots for example) and tea - divine flavor.

I also have a couple of deliciously sweet spearmint plants and some strong, fresh peppermint, a refreshing treat in the heat.
The leaves of my pineapple sage smell divine, but I am not certain if they are edible. I'll need to read up on that.

There is a variety of hibiscus that makes a lovely, fruity cup of tea - it's growing wild in my backyard, so I am ready to give that a try soon. Can't grow the German chamomile here, fizzes out in the heat, but it is the best and most healing kind for tea. UK should be the perfect climate.

The one mint I haven't tried yet is a Puerto Rican bush mint. It took a while to acclimate. It is a mini shrub and the leaves have a mild, sweet mint flavor - I thought I'd mix it up with the lemon balm - should balance out nicely. 

Oh, and a native wild violet with pretty white and lavender blue flowers - the knowledgeable local plant lady said it has been tested and used in treatment of cancer and intestinal issues by the medical center (University Studies and Clinic). It is now a thriving plant, so I figured it would be safe to harvest enough leaves for a cup of tea soon. 

I rarely dry mine - mostly I use the leaves fresh from the garden in salads, smoothies and for tea.

Lulee

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Re: Does anyone grow and dry their own herbal teas?
« Reply #4 on: March 04, 2016, 09:59:09 PM »
My grandparents always made their own herbal teas from mint, chamomile, rose hips and other things from the garden when in season.  I’m not sure how many types of roses produce hips, but theirs did and made the best tasting part of the tea, to my mind.  My mother makes what she calls sun tea in the summer by sticking water, a bunch of tea bags and some mint from the garden in a large clear glass container which she leaves to “brew” in the heat of the sun all day and then she adds lemonade to it after she’s brought it in to refrigerate --- super easy to do even without an extensive garden.

cerat0n1a

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Re: Does anyone grow and dry their own herbal teas?
« Reply #5 on: March 05, 2016, 12:58:52 AM »
Lemon verbena is totally different and delicious, (awesome with fish) but you may not have the right climate for it in the UK.
Good suggestion - I have it in a pot that goes out in the summer and into the house in winter. Used to leave it in the greenhouse over winter, but we had a -12C night a couple of years back that finished it off.

Also have this plant, which is similarly tender and can be used for tea/tisanes, although I find it a bit too strong tasting.

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Cedronella+canariensis

nnls

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Re: Does anyone grow and dry their own herbal teas?
« Reply #6 on: March 05, 2016, 01:04:20 AM »
following so i can find later

Rural

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Re: Does anyone grow and dry their own herbal teas?
« Reply #7 on: March 05, 2016, 04:52:05 AM »
I've never grown anything for tea (other than roses), but I forage some. Clover blossoms make a lovely tea (high in phytoestrogens, which can be either a plus or a disadvantage). Also blackberry leaves, best harvested before the blooms open. You guys may have just inspired me to grow mint for the purpose. Oh, basil tea is good for a sore throat and congestion, but it doesn't taste good to me, so I usually use clove for the throat. Licorice is better for congestion, but generally I buy it - roots not leaves for tea there.


All roses produce hips, but some of the smaller blossoms make very small hips, which are a bigger pain even than usual. Rosehips take more processing than leaves; you have to remove the bitter inner pith. All you want is the skin and flesh on the outside. It's okay to taste to see what I'm talking about - it will be immediately apparent.


I dry any leaves for teas on a cookie sheet in the back window of a vehicle in the sun. Takes just a few hours. Rosehips generally do better in the dehydrator unless you're using one of the really small varieties.

shelivesthedream

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Re: Does anyone grow and dry their own herbal teas?
« Reply #8 on: March 06, 2016, 02:04:17 AM »
Thanks all y'all. I've got quite a few to add to my list!

I do have one question, though. Blackberry leaves... Is that from some special kind of blackberry or is it what comes off brambles? Because I currently buy blackberry teabags and really like them, but am a bit apprehensive about just boiling up any old bramble leaf!

Rural

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Re: Does anyone grow and dry their own herbal teas?
« Reply #9 on: March 06, 2016, 05:39:41 AM »
Thanks all y'all. I've got quite a few to add to my list!

I do have one question, though. Blackberry leaves... Is that from some special kind of blackberry or is it what comes off brambles? Because I currently buy blackberry teabags and really like them, but am a bit apprehensive about just boiling up any old bramble leaf!


Straight up brambles. Just be sure you can definitely identify them, don't get them from along roadsides because of the exhaust, and get them early - before the blooms form is best, but before they open is essential.


Most commercial blackberry teas are mixed with something; the flavor is really mild alone.

Éowynd

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Re: Does anyone grow and dry their own herbal teas?
« Reply #10 on: March 08, 2016, 12:26:47 PM »
Lemon balm grows like a weed in my gardens and I've tried making a tea/tisane with it.  The flavor was a bit too "leafy green" for me to enjoy, if that makes sense.  I was expecting more of a lemon flavor.

Sage tea is strongly flavored but it tastes okay with a lot of honey.  I only drink it when I have a cold because it seems to help speed recovery.  Sage leaves freeze pretty well for this use.

I've tried strawberry leaf tea and it had the same "leafy green" flavor that I do not enjoy. 

Chamomile grows well for me but it is difficult to steep for tea.  The flowers tend to float on top of the hot water.  Still want to experiment more with this one; maybe a wire mesh tea ball would help.

I grew hibiscus/roselle one year and it made a great red tea.  However, the plant only produced enough for ~two cups.  For tea production, I would need to grow more plants and put them in the sun (instead of part shade).

I haven't tried blackberry leaf tea yet.  That is now on the list for this year :)

I like Echinacea tea but I have yet to harvest some for tea.

Have you tried roasted dandelion root tea?  It is one of my favorite herbal teas.  Home harvested and roasted dandelion root tea has much more flavor than the store-bought kind.  It does take some effort to dig, clean, grind and roast the roots though.

Ginger is a less common, but delicious, herbal tea.  I grew ginger in a pot last year (~2-3 gallon size).  This was surprisingly easy: I planted a fresh root from the store in January(indoors), it sent up a small green shoot by February, I moved it outside after the last frost date (I'm in Zone 5b) and harvested it in the fall.  It produced over a pint of fresh peeled ginger roots which I stored submerged in vodka in the refrigerator.  The remaining pieces are still in decent condition; suitable for making tea or for baking.  I grate the fresh root (microplane grater) to make tea.

This is a great thread btw!

cerat0n1a

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Re: Does anyone grow and dry their own herbal teas?
« Reply #11 on: March 08, 2016, 01:03:31 PM »
Lemon balm grows like a weed in my gardens and I've tried making a tea/tisane with it.  The flavor was a bit too "leafy green" for me to enjoy, if that makes sense.  I was expecting more of a lemon flavor.
Bit of Limoncello in there works wonders I find...
Quote
Ginger is a less common, but delicious, herbal tea.  I grew ginger in a pot last year (~2-3 gallon size).  This was surprisingly easy: I planted a fresh root from the store in January(indoors), it sent up a small green shoot by February, I moved it outside after the last frost date (I'm in Zone 5b) and harvested it in the fall.
Doesn't really get warm enough outside in the UK summer for it to grow very quickly. It really needs to be in a greenhouse or conservatory here. It is a nice ornamental plant though. Same deal with lemongrass or galangal. I guess you get much colder winters than us, but much hotter summers.

Cookie78

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Re: Does anyone grow and dry their own herbal teas?
« Reply #12 on: March 08, 2016, 01:32:07 PM »
I have tried peppermint, both fresh and dried. I had chamomile too, but I don't think I did it properly, or maybe it was the wrong type.

I have buckets of dried sage, but I didn't think to make tea with it. May try that tonight. :)

Some awesome ideas in this thread. :)

shelivesthedream

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Re: Does anyone grow and dry their own herbal teas?
« Reply #13 on: March 09, 2016, 04:23:30 AM »
I do know that dandelion root tea is a thing, and I do have carrot-sized dandelion roots growing all over my allotment, but:
a) I hate the damn things so much the tea might be rageful rather then soothing!
b) I actually don't know if I'd like it! I might buy some dandelion teabags, though, and see if they're nice. If they are, my allotment will give me an infinite supply!

I love fresh ginger tea, but I just don't think it grows here, and we don't have a space to keep a decent sized pot indoors. Maybe when we move!

RetiredAt63

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Re: Does anyone grow and dry their own herbal teas?
« Reply #14 on: March 14, 2016, 12:34:29 PM »
Just found this thread, great ideas.  I am trying to cut back on coffee and regular tea, and right now my first thing in the morning drink has changed from coffee to a bit of lemon juice and a tiny bit of sweetener in hot water.  But that lacks variety  ;-)  I can grow a lot of these plants in my summer garden.

Foraging: I can fight the bees for the clover blossoms.  What is the best time of day to pick them?  I certainly have lots of dandelion roots, again harvest and processing questions?  I know I can google it, but it is nice hearing from those who do it.

Also, would it be useful to buy some herbal teas and see which I like/don't like?  Or are the homegrown teas different enough from the commercial ones that there is no point.  I know everyone says rose-hip tea is great, and the commercial rose-hip teas I have tried were horrible.

Rural

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Re: Does anyone grow and dry their own herbal teas?
« Reply #15 on: March 16, 2016, 12:13:50 AM »
What kind of clover do you have? Do be sure you Google or otherwise investigate to be sure it's really a clover, and there are a couple of different genuses that are called 'clover.' You probably have prairie clover (genus dalea) and that may be something that's safe and good for tea, but I don't know one way or the other because I'm too far south for it.


Here's the clover I mean, a nonnative white clover, genus trifolum. The red clover that's often planted as a cover crop is another trifolum aNd would be safe in itself, but beware agricultural spraying. Also I don't know if it's yummy because I haven't tried it.


http://stephenville.tamu.edu/topics/forages/forage-species/cool-season-legumes/white-clover/


The best time to pick is probably morning, after the dew dries, but frankly I've never been too fussy about times with clover.

swick

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Re: Does anyone grow and dry their own herbal teas?
« Reply #16 on: March 16, 2016, 05:00:04 AM »

The leaves of my pineapple sage smell divine, but I am not certain if they are edible. I'll need to read up on that.
Slightly off the tea topic, but if you are not using your pineapple sage you are in for a treat! It is one of my favorite herbs! Can be used in either sweet or savory dishes (I poach rhubarb in a pineapple sage simple syrup, it's divine!) Also AWESOME for cocktails, anywhere you would use mint. One of my signature drinks is a Pineapple sage mojito. Also good in stirfries, in a bearnaise-style sauce....

Okay back to teas, You can harvest wild Nettle, red raspberry leaf, rose hips. I have done all of these. Another one I don't think anyone has mentioned is Tulsi or Holy Basil? I grew some this year (Southern BC) and it grew like bonkers! Tastes great too!

cerat0n1a

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Re: Does anyone grow and dry their own herbal teas?
« Reply #17 on: March 16, 2016, 05:39:32 AM »
Slightly off the tea topic, but if you are not using your pineapple sage you are in for a treat! It is one of my favorite herbs!
The flowers are also edible (and surprisingly sweet) which is the same for all salvias I think.  Quite a nice addition to salads or desserts.

swick

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Re: Does anyone grow and dry their own herbal teas?
« Reply #18 on: March 16, 2016, 05:55:24 AM »
Slightly off the tea topic, but if you are not using your pineapple sage you are in for a treat! It is one of my favorite herbs!
The flowers are also edible (and surprisingly sweet) which is the same for all salvias I think.  Quite a nice addition to salads or desserts.

Good tip! I haven't grown it. Came across it at a farmer's market from an Asian Lady selling all sorts of greens I have never seen before. She introduced me to so many awesome things, unfortunately, the pineapple sage is the only thing I got the name of :(  Definitely on my "try to grow" list this year!

hey, has anyone seen Numi's new line of savory teas? I can't determine if this is brilliant or totally weird/unnecessary...but it does redefine the idea of "tea" and expand the options of mixing your own! http://shop.numitea.com/Savory-Tea/c/NumiTeaStore@Teabag@Savory

shelivesthedream

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Re: Does anyone grow and dry their own herbal teas?
« Reply #19 on: March 17, 2016, 01:15:39 AM »
Okay back to teas, You can harvest wild Nettle, red raspberry leaf, rose hips. I have done all of these. Another one I don't think anyone has mentioned is Tulsi or Holy Basil? I grew some this year (Southern BC) and it grew like bonkers! Tastes great too!

Is this the same as Thai basil? Because if so +1 to it being yummy and prolific! We had a plant last year but it died over the winter (we left it outdoors). I think a trip to the garden centre is in order, also for pineapple sage which sounds great

swick

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Re: Does anyone grow and dry their own herbal teas?
« Reply #20 on: March 17, 2016, 09:08:01 AM »
Okay back to teas, You can harvest wild Nettle, red raspberry leaf, rose hips. I have done all of these. Another one I don't think anyone has mentioned is Tulsi or Holy Basil? I grew some this year (Southern BC) and it grew like bonkers! Tastes great too!

Is this the same as Thai basil? Because if so +1 to it being yummy and prolific! We had a plant last year but it died over the winter (we left it outdoors). I think a trip to the garden centre is in order, also for pineapple sage which sounds great

Tulsi is not the same as Thai basil. It is an adaptogen used widely in Ayurvedic medicine. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ocimum_tenuiflorum

Éowynd

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Re: Does anyone grow and dry their own herbal teas?
« Reply #21 on: March 17, 2016, 09:44:13 AM »
I certainly have lots of dandelion roots, again harvest and processing questions?  I know I can google it, but it is nice hearing from those who do it.

Also, would it be useful to buy some herbal teas and see which I like/don't like?  Or are the homegrown teas different enough from the commercial ones that there is no point.  I know everyone says rose-hip tea is great, and the commercial rose-hip teas I have tried were horrible.

I do think it is worth it to buy herbal teas for tasting.  If you don't like roasted dandelion root tea from the store then you probably won't like homemade either.  My homemade tea is generally has a stronger and darker (more roasted?) flavor than store-bought tea.  I like both kinds though.

Here is where I learned about dandelion root tea:
http://thedeliberateagrarian.blogspot.com/2013/11/how-to-make-your-own-dandelion-root-tea.html

This is a link from the above website:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HiGlA2tlh2c&feature=youtu.be

Super condensed version:
Dig up dandelion roots
Scrub roots clean to your satisfaction
Grind/grate roots in a food processor (until most pieces are about the size of rice or barley grains)
Dry in the oven at 200 degrees F
Then roast at 350 degrees until the pieces are brown (I like a fairly dark roast; this part depends on your taste)


cerat0n1a

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Re: Does anyone grow and dry their own herbal teas?
« Reply #22 on: March 17, 2016, 10:10:46 AM »
Tulsi is not the same as Thai basil. It is an adaptogen used widely in Ayurvedic medicine. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ocimum_tenuiflorum

More commonly called holy basil here. It's not as easy to grow in the UK as (yummy) Thai Basil. Basil is always good for keeping aphids away from other plants, I find ;-)

Dandelion root "coffee" or tea was used during WW II. The fact that people switched back to the real thing asap tells you the consensus opinion on how it tastes....

asiljoy

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Re: Does anyone grow and dry their own herbal teas?
« Reply #23 on: March 17, 2016, 10:12:18 AM »
Nothing to contribute, but interesting thread.

Éowynd

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Re: Does anyone grow and dry their own herbal teas?
« Reply #24 on: March 17, 2016, 10:57:43 AM »
Dandelion root "coffee" or tea was used during WW II. The fact that people switched back to the real thing asap tells you the consensus opinion on how it tastes....

Awww...no love for dandelions?  It could be that dandelion root "coffee" was an unpleasant reminder of war rationing.  It could be that it's more convenient to buy coffee than it is to make your own tea (hard to grow coffee in most of the U.S.).  It could be that dandelion root tea is harder for corporations to mass produce and make a profit on so they advertised coffee instead.  The fact that people switched back to coffee doesn't necessarily have to do with taste.

cerat0n1a

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Re: Does anyone grow and dry their own herbal teas?
« Reply #25 on: March 17, 2016, 02:44:12 PM »
All good points!

I occasionally have a few dandelion leaves in a salad, it's surprising how much they can vary from one plant to the next.

RetiredAt63

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Re: Does anyone grow and dry their own herbal teas?
« Reply #26 on: April 02, 2016, 03:59:31 PM »
Rural

I have good old white clover, Trifolium repens, and a bit of red clover, Trifolium praetense, plus bird's foot trefoil, Lotus corniculatus and white and yellow sweet clover, Melilotus albus.  All introduced species that keep the bees happy (of course honey bees are introduced species as well).  How do you make the tea?  Just pick flowers and steep?  No issues with contaminants, I don't put anything on my lawn.  David's Tea has a store in Ottawa, I may pop in next time I am in town, to do a taste test.
« Last Edit: April 02, 2016, 05:33:50 PM by RetiredAt63 »

Rural

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Re: Does anyone grow and dry their own herbal teas?
« Reply #27 on: April 02, 2016, 09:03:51 PM »
Rural

I have good old white clover, Trifolium repens, and a bit of red clover, Trifolium praetense, plus bird's foot trefoil, Lotus corniculatus and white and yellow sweet clover, Melilotus albus.  All introduced species that keep the bees happy (of course honey bees are introduced species as well).  How do you make the tea?  Just pick flowers and steep?  No issues with contaminants, I don't put anything on my lawn.  David's Tea has a store in Ottawa, I may pop in next time I am in town, to do a taste test.


I dry, then steep. I'm sure you could do fresh, I just never have. Dry the blossoms in a dehydrator or a car window in the sun, on a cookie sheet. Then you can crumble them small for storage. I wouldn't stray away from Trifolium sp, without doing a lot of research.

kudy

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Re: Does anyone grow and dry their own herbal teas?
« Reply #28 on: April 02, 2016, 09:13:16 PM »
As a kid we had large chamomile plants, and a ton of mint - I remember making tea with it. Great idea, I'd love to start doing it again... maybe I should plant chamomile this year.

FrugalShrew

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Re: Does anyone grow and dry their own herbal teas?
« Reply #29 on: April 02, 2016, 10:20:51 PM »
Erica at Northwest Edible has an awesome guide to growing and making herbal teas, "DIY Herbal Teas (The Giant Tutorial)."

http://www.nwedible.com/herbal-tea/