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TIP OF THE DAY: Grow Your Own Herbal Tea

Tea leaves are herbs. Photo by Zakir Ghouse | Fotolia.


We use the term “herb tea” to specify a tea made of caffeine-free herbs. But black, green, oolong and white teas, which come from the plant Camellia sinensis, are also herbs themselves.

According to Chinese legend, in 2737 B.C.E., Emperor Shen Nong discovered tea by accident. While boiling drinking water in the garden (a standard safety practice in the millennia prior to safe water systems), a leaf from an overhanging wild tea tree drifted into his pot—inadvertently brewing the first pot of tea. (More on the history of tea.)

While you probably can’t grow a tea tree or bush in your home or garden,* you can grow other herbs that steep into delicious “herbal” teas.

*If you live in a hot, moist climate, you can try it. Tea grows in temperatures ranging from 50 to 86°F, in areas with an average yearly rainfall of 787 inches and an elevation of between 2000 and 6500 feet above sea level.


Herbs To Grow For Tea
Most herbs have some type of homeopathic quality—but grow and brew the flavors you prefer. Take a look at:

  • Basil or lemon basil
  • Chamomile
  • Fennel
  • Lavender
  • Lemon balm
  • Lemongrass
  • Lemon verbena
  • Mint (apple mint, orange mint, peppermint, spearmint)
  • Rose hips
  • Rosemary
  • Sage (we love sage tea; look for pineapple sage in addition to regular sage)
    How To Brew Fresh Herb Tea
    1. Pluck and rinse the herbs.
    2. Crush them in your hand to release the essential oils.
    3. Add the leaves to a cup or pot and cover with boiling water to steep, for three minutes or longer. Use 3 teaspoons of herbs per cup of water (if the herbs are dried, 1 teaspoon per cup of water).
    4. Enjoy the tea hot or iced.

    Suggestions From Experts

  • Harvest the herbs in the morning, after the dew has dried.
  • Most herbs are at peak just before they flower.
  • Harvest all your herbs by the end of the season, before the first frost. Dry them whole and store in an airtight container away from heat and light.
  • In addition to making tea, you can use the herbs as seasonings.

    Related Food Videos: For more food videos, check out The Nibble's Food Video Collection.

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