Teas the Season: Grow Your Own

Every season is tea season from fancying a cozy warm cuppa to a crisp cool tall glass. 

And no, it's not about growing black pekoe in your garden. From the polished 17th-century apothecaries in London to the elderly mid-wife living in the dark glens of Scotland have been studying and using a variety of herbs, flowers, and "weeds" for soothing beverages and for medicinal uses.  

As we begin the winter holidays, and especially during quarantine, we look to small comforts such as mulled wines, spiced ciders, and especially a cup of tea. The market shelves are filled with a variety of teas to choose from, but it can be as easy as going out to your garden or your own apothecary jars in your pantry. 

A loose tea blend of rose petals, peppermint, ginger, lavender, mugwort, orange peel, fennel, lemon balm, and chamomile. 

Think spring and plan ahead for those long winter days. Forage in your yard for "weeds" such as the leaves and flowers from dandelions, chickweed, broadleaf plantain, mullein, and white clover. If white clover is good enough for the bees to make their delicious honey from, then white clover is good enough for a cup of tea. In some areas, people purposely grow mullein and harvest the leaves and flowers to make tea and tinctures for respiratory ailments. All of these weeds can be steeped either fresh or dried in hot water.  

In the flower garden, any edible flower can be used to make tea, but it's important to note, they may not all taste good. Rose petals, rose hips, lavender, hibiscus, passionflower leaf, chrysanthemum (two varieties: Chrysanthemum Indicum and Chrysanthemum Morifolium), jasmine, cornflower, and calendula make for tasty and aromatic sips. Using whole dried flowers such as roses, chrysanthemum, jasmine, or calendula is perfect for the popular "blooming teas." If you have raspberries and blackberry bushes in your yard, harvest and dry their leaves for tea. Like their fruit, these leaves provide antioxidants. 

In your herb garden or even in your kitchen window plant pots to harvest and dry such as basil, mint (spearmint, pineapple, and chocolate), fennel, thyme, sage, lemon balm, myrtle, marjoram, and catnip to list a few. 

Rose Petals (Center) Clockwise from top: Hibiscus, Chamomile, Cinnamon Bark, Calendula, Lavender, Mugwort, and Spearmint

Rediscover your spice drawer. Cinnamon, ginger, clove, peppercorns, cardamom, and star anise are a few ideas for an aromatic cup of tea. And don't forget to save orange and lemon peels. Dried citrus peels make a nice addition to tea and it smells good. 

Looking for a place to buy herbs and spices online? Etsy has a plethora of herbologists who sell dried herbs, spices, and even ready-made herbal teas. Also, once you develop a "recipe," don't forget to write it down. Tea blends also make great gifts along with a pretty vintage cup and saucer, an antique spoon, and a cotton muslin tea bag. 

And while you're shopping, don't forget tea infusers. They come in handy and keep you from swallowing a leaf or a bud - unless of course you don't mind that extra bit of fiber or you're waiting for a tasseography practitioner to read your tea leaves to tell your fortune. 

A variety of tea infusers for pots, single cups, and reusable cotton muslin bag 

Warning! Do you not use any weeds or flowers that have been sprayed. Always research before ingesting any new plant you may not be familiar with.