It is said that if you are a green tea drinker you are doing your body a world of good! Tea does contain substances that have been linked to a lower risk for heart disease, cancer, and other health problems – Harvard Health Publications 2014.
How do I start? Starting a herbal garden can be a fun step into growing your own home grown produce. It is also great fun to create your own tea recipes!
Most tea herbs require a sunny position, preferably exposed to afternoon sun. Good amounts of fertiliser throughout the growing seasons (spring and summer) is recommend. I like to use Organic fertiliser by Grow Better in the pallet form. You can apply this fertiliser every 6 – 11 weeks. Using organic fertilisers is always a good idea when feeding plants that you eventually desire to eat. Another great option is Rock Dust. It is a organic and vegan friendly garden fertiliser, you need to use this product regularly, every 4 – 6 weeks, but you can still achieve great results with this fertiliser.
Pots or Raised Garden-bed? The wonderful thing about herbs is that can be grown in a diverse range of situations. If potting your herbal garden into pots make sure you have plenty of room if you are planting multiple plants. A pot with a diameter of 50cm, or great, is suitable for 4-6 plants. All mint plants are usually best grown in pots and not in the garden as they can run away and take over. When planting into containers make sure to use a premium quality of potting mix! Do not buy cheap soil! Cheap soil will more often than not result in poor root development, poor overall plant growth and increased chances of deficiencies. A good foundation makes a strong house, it is the same with plants. A great soil will make a brilliant plant!
What herbs can I use in making my own tea?
When walking into your local nursery it can be overwhelming with the herb selection that you might find offered to you. However, there is a vast range of herbs and flowers which can be used in making herbal tea.
Brewing my herbs? Herbs which have been dried will last a lot longer and will usually have a more potent flavour when infused in boiling water. Fresh herbs have a subtle flavour and do not last as long.
Peppermint (Mentha x piperita): is a fast growing perennial with a sprawling habit. It is best grown in moist soil and in containers. The roots can be invasive as they produce underground runners which can spread far, best grown in pots. Prefers to be grown in all day sun. Height: 30 – 50cm Width: 60cm or greater. Taste: Pick newest leaves for the best flavour. The taste is sharp and spicy at first but becomes cooling.
Spearmint (Mentha spicata): is a fast growing perennial with a sprawling habit and is best grown in pots. Prefers to be grown in all day sun. Height: 30 – 50cm Width: 60cm or greater. Taste: Leaves can be used fresh or dried, however dried leaves have the best flavour. Refreshing and cooling effect. Collect a handful of fresh leaves and infuse with hot water for a fresh herbal tea.
Lemon Balm (Melissa offcinalis) : A tough perennial which prefers to grow in partcial shade. It can tolerate full sun but leaves may turn slightly yellow during the peak of summer. Can be grown in the garden but has a habit of spreading. Height: 50-80cm Width: 60cm or greater. Taste: A fresh zesty flavour. If leaves are dried you can loose some of the flavour. Leaves are best used fresh infused in hot water. Collect a handful of fresh leaves and infuse with hot water for a refreshing and cooling herbal tea.
Lemon Grass (Cymbopogon citratus): The lower stems of the Lemon grass is a main ingredient in many Asian dishes. It is the fresh leafy tips that is used to make a calming fresh tea. It love to grow in a rich moist soil in a protected position from afternoon sun. It is best grown in morning sun. Regular watering, every second day, throughout the summer months is ideal. Plants can be lifted in late winter to early spring and divided. Height: 80cm Width: 40-50cm. Taste:The leaf tips can be used either fresh or dried in hot water. Approximately 1-2 tbsp of chopped leaves in a cup of hot water will give you a potent flavour.
Bergamot (Monarda didyma): This aromatic perennial loves to grow in a moist position preferably near a stream or in a low point in the garden where water will collect. It requires regular watering throughout the summer months, daily to every second day. During the warmer months, spring and summer, beautiful red tubular blooms emerge on tall stems. Height: 1 metre Width: 30-50cm. Taste: The flowers and leaves can be used fresh or dried. When using the flowers and leaves you can create a tea which will have a flavour similar to Earl Grey tea! Use 1 tbsp of fresh or dried leaves/flowers to a cup of boiling water. Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes.
Chamomile German (Matricaria recutita): It has been used in remedies by the ancient Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks for thousands of years. Chamomile has been used to treat a vast range of illness and conditions, such as: Chest colds, Sore throats, fevers, anxiety, insomnia, help calm the body and many, many more. This ancient herb is best grown in a rich moist soil in a sunny position, afternoon sun. Height: 1 metre Width: 30cm Taste: Gather 2 tbsp of dried or fresh flowers to one cup of boiling water for a relaxing tea. Allow to brew for 10 minutes. Dried flowers will give a more potent flavour.
I hope this herbal tea guide has been helpful! Let me know what you are growing in your tea garden!
Until next time happy gardening! By Bonnie-Marie Hibbs ©BMHPhotographyTheGardener’sNotebook2017