Brits love tea, and we spend a lot of money on our favourite teabags. Cleansing, detoxifying and full of antioxidants, fresh herbal teas have never been more popular, so why not grow your own?
Herbs are one of the easiest things to grow. They’re straight forward to sow and maintain, needing relatively little space or time. They will even grow happily on windowsills for those without a garden.
If you want leaves you can pick and use fresh without drying, choose mint, basil, chamomile or lemon balm. For something slightly sweeter, raspberry and blackberry leaves work well too.
When picking from your plants, look for strong healthy leaves, and harvest in the morning when the leaves contain the most essential oils. Pick several large leaves for each mug, and rinse thoroughly. Make sure they’re from your garden and not roadsides etc, as you want to know exactly what you’re drinking…
Then tear or crush the leaves slightly to release flavour and essential oils, and pour boiling water over to soak for around 10 minutes – depending on how strong you like it. Then strain and pour into mugs, it’s that simple.
You can also create teas through combining different leaves, and even the flowers and roots of some plants. Lavender buds and dandelion roots work well, but always check your choosing edible parts of plants, as you can’t eat everything that grows in your garden.
If you’ve got more time, certain leaves, such as chamomile, work well dried, and can be preserved for future use or giving away. Oven drying or short bursts in the microwave will dehydrate leaves so they can be stored. Keep them in labelled air tight containers or sandwich bags.
Experimenting with home-grown teas is cheap and rewarding, helping us get more green in our lives and homes, as well as nutrients and health benefits from growing your own.