Grow a tea garden! Here are the 10 best herbs for tea—from mint to chamomile. Homemade herbs not only make for a more flavorful tea but also have healing benefits! See which herbs to plant and also some great recipes for herbal teas.
At some point, you’ve probably had bland, tasteless tea. This is likely due to either the herbs or the method used to make it—both solvable issues! Let’s start with the herbs …
When it comes to herbs for tea, homegrown herbs—such as mint, lemon balm, and chamomile—will be more flavorful than anything you could buy. Almost all “tea plants” grow easily throughout North America. They are hardy perennials (up to -20°F).
10 Herbs to Grow in a Tea Garden
Mint, of course, comes in many varieties. Peppermint leaves (M. x piperita) are the best for tea, in our opinion, and make a refreshing iced tea, too. If you grow mint, note that it can become invasive; contain in its own bed or pot or just watch closely! Learn all about growing mint!
Lemon balm belongs to the mint family, too. It really does have lemon-scented leaves and makes a soothing evening tea It’s listed for zones 4 and 5, and less hardy than other mints. A rooted cutting will overwinter indoors.
Chamomile has small, daisy-like flowers that have long been used in Europe for tea. The tea is earthy with hints of apple and floral sweetness. It has a light, palatable taste that most people favor.
Rose petals tea can be made from any fragrant rose variety that’s been grown organically. Gather petals when the blooms are just past their peak. Garden.org states that, “Rosa rugosa is one that’s recommended for both petals and hips because it’s a fragrant, pest-free rose that doesn’t require spraying. Rose hip tea is red, with a tart lemon-orange flavor, and is a source of vitamin C. Cut slits in plump hips to speed drying and crush them slightly before brewing tea.”
Lemon Verbena (Aloysia triphylla) is has a strong lemon flavor, closest to a lemon oil. This woody shrub prefers full sun and a light, well-drained soil. It’s hardy only in zones 10 and 11.
With Bee Balm, another member of the mint family, both the colorful flowers and the leaves can be used to make a flavorful tea that tastes of citrus and spice.
Coriander (Coriandrum sativum) produces seeds that lend a warm, citrusy flavor to tea.
Catnip (Nepeta cataria) is a member of the mint family and has a lemon-mint flavor. Note: Pregnant women should avoid drinking catnip tea.
Sunflower seed hulls can be blacked over a dry cast-iron frying pan and add to teas for a hearty flavoring. This was a favorite practice of Native Americans.
Lemon verbena has the strongest lemon flavor. This woody shrub prefers full sun and a light, well-drained soil. However, it’s only hardy in zones 10 and 11. Elsewhere, grow it in a planter and winter it indoors.
How to Make Herbal Tea
For tea, harvest herb plants when they are in bud, as that is when the aromatic oils are the most concentrated. Cut the entire plant by two-thirds. You may then continue growing the plant and then harvest again and again.
Ready to brew? Here are two tea recipes we enjoy. For both recipes, it is best to dry the ingredients though you can also use them fresh. To dry herbs, spread the stems on trays in a warm, airy place and turn them twice a day. When they’re dry (4 to 8 days), gently strip off the leaves, buds or flowerheads and store them in closed containers.
Also, to make tea, you will need a tea strainer. A strainer can be in basket form or metal. Some teapots have built-in strainers as well, which tend to come in handy but can be a bit more costly.
Echinacea, Dandelion Root, and Licorice Tea
Both echinacea and licorice are said to cure an irritated throat. If you are allergic to ragweed, replace dandelion root with another herb of your choosing. For example, try the herb elder with echinacea and licorice; it has a very pleasant taste.
Drinking a cup of this tea in the morning really does do the trick. Also, the delicate, bitter taste of licorice will wake you up! Whether you are beginning to till your garden or going in to work for the day, you should feel rejuvenated and allergy-free after one delightful cup.
Homemade Herbal Tea Recipe
Boil 2 cups of water.
After the water has boiled, pour it into a pot and add 1 tablespoon of echinacea, 1 teaspoon of dandelion root, and 1 teaspoon of licorice.
Cover the water and herbs and let simmer on low heat for 15 minutes.
If you have a basket or small metal strainer, rest it on top of a mug or tea cup and pour the tea through, discard the remaining herbs after.
Last for personal taste, add a heaping teaspoon of honey!
We can not guarantee your allergies will be cured by this tea, but can assure you that the taste will definitely be pleasing.
Once you start growing mint, you’ll have a lot of it! So, it makes sense to make this minty tea recipe. (See 12 more uses for mint!)
3 tablespoons peppermint leaves
1 tablespoon catnip leaves
1 tablespoon rose petals
1 tablespoon lemon verbena leaves
First, dry the herbs as described above. Pour boiling water over the herbs. Cover and let steep for 3 to 5 minutes. Sweeten with honey if desired!
If you want to discover and purchase these herbs and others, try your local health food store. Or, start your own herbal garden!