By Allison Zeeb, account and product manager, SAHIN Home Garden
There is nothing better than drinking a delicious cup of tea — except drinking a cup made from plants grown in your own garden. Ditch the classics and get ready for your new home-grown favorites!
- Lemongrass — Towering in the garden, lemongrass is truly a unique plant. Its stems create an oil rich in lemony flavor. Brew it in hot water and add it to your Arnold Palmer (a combination of iced tea and lemonade) for a fresh, zany taste.
- Cut lemongrass stalks. Be careful as the leaves are sharp and can give unexpected paper cuts!
- Stalks can be air-dried, dried in the oven at low heat, or put in a dehydrator.
- 3 pinches (depending on your taste) of fresh lemongrass leaves in a teapot or teacup. Steep for 3 minutes.
- Blend lemongrass with calendula to aid digestion.
- Anise hyssop — Native to the mint family, anise hyssop is the perfect companion to peppermint or spearmint. Craving a new after-dinner tea? Anise hyssop’s licorice flavor will bring a new dimension to your favorite bedtime cup. Use the leaves and flowers, fresh or dried.
- Harvest anise leaves at any time during their growing season to use fresh.
- Or, wait for the flowers to bloom in June/July and use both the flowers and the leaves.
- Tear 2–-3 leaves and plunge into boiled water; let steep for 10 minutes.
- Blend with rose hips to help with coughs and colds.
Beginner tip: After flowering, cut back the plant for a second flush of flowers to enjoy later in the season.
- Stevia — Stevia, a natural sweetener, is cultivated all over the world, but growing your own will make it that much sweeter.
- Harvest stevia leaves before flowering to use fresh.
- Dry the leaves by hanging them in a cool, dark place.
- Pinch 5–6 leaves and plunge into boiled water; let steep for 3–4 minutes.
- Blend with mint, lemon balm, rose hip and sage to create a refreshingly herbal summer drink.
Beginner tip: The sweetness of stevia will vary and tends to be stronger later in autumn before the plant flowers.
- Cinnamon basil — Yes, you read that right! Cinnamon basil is a plant that tastes like cinnamon. With dark green leaves and stunning purple flowers, it’s a showstopper in any garden. (It’s beautiful in fresh flower bouquets, too!) In tea, it’s a favorite basil to use. Why? Because it doesn’t taste like you’re drinking pesto. Instead, you are drinking spiced cinnamon tea.
- Harvest cinnamon basil leaves at any time during their growing season to use fresh.
- Flowers will bloom in June/July and then use both flowers and leaves in your tea.
- Tear 2 stems with leaves and plunge into boiled water; let steep for 3 minutes.
- Use to help with digestion.
- Echinacea — This flower adds an earthy taste to tea.
- Harvest flower heads when they first start to open.
- Echinacea roots and leaves may also be used to make tea.
- Steep flowers, leaves and roots for 15 minutes.
- A popular remedy for colds, flu and other infections, echinacea is thought to help boost immunity.
- Lavender — Lavender is having its time in the sun. It’s everywhere from flower crowns to lemonades, and its distinctive scent is found in soaps and massage oils. Lavender tea has been used for centuries in traditional medicine to boost mood and enhance calm. Create your own sip of paradise.
- Harvest fresh lavender at any time during the growing season. Also, include the lavender flowers when in bloom.
- Dry lavender flowers and leaves for winter tea.
- Steep flowers and leaves for 10 minutes.
- Beneficial in aiding restless sleepers.
Beginner tip: You’ll need about 2 teaspoons of lavender buds for every 8-ounce cup of water. Use only 1 tablespoon for dried lavender.
- Calendula — One of the oldest cultivated flowers, calendula dates back to Roman times. Whether in fresh arrangements or in the garden, calendula will adds pop to your tea with its earthy, peppery bite.
- Harvest calendula flowers regularly during the growing season for consistent flowering.
- Pick the petals off the flowers to make dry tea.
- Steep fresh flowers or a pinch of dried petals in boiling water for 4 minutes.
- Calendula is high in vitamin C and good for the digestive system.
- Violet — A hidden delight in your garden, violet flowers make the perfect pairing to any tea. Believed to comfort and strengthen the heart, violet’s sweet, floral taste is perfect for any warm cup of tea.
- Flowers will bloom during spring and fall.
- Once in full bloom, pinch off the flowers with your fingertips.
- Steep flowers and leaves for 3 minutes.
- Blend with myrtle to help sinus discomfort.
Beginner tip: Violets make a refreshing iced tea as well. Use plenty of flowers when brewing a pitcher.
- Dianthus — At the peak of summer, dianthus is stunning in the gardens with its beautiful magenta blooms. Not just beautiful, dianthus has a sweet taste similar to clove.
- Harvest flowers in spring and summer when in bloom. To promote new growth and more blooms, prune back the plant in early spring.
- Dry flowers for tea throughout the year.
- Steep flowers for 5 minutes.
- Blend with cinnamon for a holiday tea.
- Dahlia — With a range of colors, dahlias make a statement piece in any garden. Their delightful taste makes a great summer tea.
- Cut when blooms are three-quarters of the way open, but not overly ripe. You are looking for firm and lush petals versus papery ones.
- Dry dahlia flowers to make tea throughout the winter months.
- Steep flowers for 3 minutes.
Blend with calendula or other summer flowers to create a wonderful summer drink.
Beginner tip: Check the dahlia blooms carefully for bugs before using them for tea. Many insects like to hide in their tubular-shaped petals.
Note: National Garden Bureau does not wish to advise or recommend herbs for medicinal or health use. The information here is intended for inspirational and educational purposes only. Please consult a healthcare professional before considering any herbal treatments.