a sunny spot. Herbs require a sunny location and should receive at least
6 hours of sun a day
Mulch around the base of the herb plants to discourage weeds and to help retain soil moisture.For troublesome spreaders such as mint, cut the bottom of the pot out and sink the pot with plant in it, into the ground.
What to Grow
Mint tea is a wonderfully refreshing drink. You can experiment with your favorite mint types--try peppermint (M. piperita), spearmint (M. spicata), orange mint (M. aquatica citrata), pineapple mint (M. suaveolens), and a lot of other flavors. You use the fresh leaves or dried to make tea. Just steep in boiling water. Add a sprinkle of sugar or honey to sweeten.
Bergamot (Monarda didyma) infuses the sweet, citrus taste that is the distinguishing flavor of Earl Grey tea. Add both the leaves and the flowers of this plant to black tea to make your own version of this traditional English tea.
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is one of the most beloved scents and flavors. It has a slighty sweet taste and infuses tea with a flowery flavor. Steep the flowers in boiling water.
Anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) makes a tea that tastes like a licorice drop. This anise-flavored plant bears fragrant and tasty leaves. Clip a few off and use about 2 teaspoons in a cup of boiling water.
Lemon verbena (Aloysia triphylla) is the perfect tea for lemon lovers. Clip and cut about 2 tablespoons of the fresh leaves and add to a cup of boiling water. Allow to steep for about 5 minutes.
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Buying Herbs For Tea
You can also grow and dry your own herbs. Chamomile, sage, lemon balm, catnip, feverfew, passionflower, rosemary, and yarrow are just a few herbs that are easy to grow from seed. To dry herbs naturally, hang small bundles of them in a dark, warm, dry room and let them dry until they're brittle-a few days to a few weeks depending on whether they are leaves, flowers, or roots. Be sure they don't become moldy. When completely dry, store in an airtight jar or plastic bag.
Brewing Herbal Teas
Herbalists recommend one to three cups of herbal tea a day for the full medicinal effect, so a quart is a convenient amount to brew at a time. To make an infusion, place two to four tablespoons of dried herbs in a glass, ceramic, enamel, or stainless steel container. Boil a quart of water; then turn off the heat until the bubbles die down. Poor the water over the herbs, cover, steep for at least 10 minutes, and strain.
To make a decoction, use the same herb to water ratio as in an infusion, but place the herbs directly in the pot with cool water and let them sit for an hour. Then bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for at least 20 minutes. Remove from heat. For maximum effect, let the herbs steep for at least an hour before straining.
Use two to four tablespoons of dried herbs for each quart of water or one tablespoon per eight ounces (for a single cup.) Measurements are given in "parts" so you can adjust the strength. Each recipe makes a quart of tea but can easily be adapted to a cup.
Jean Victor Lindsteadt is a freelance writer and editor from Mill Valley, CA. Jean enjoys writing gardening books and growing her own tea herbs.
For More Herb Information or a list of qualified herbalists in your area, write or call the American Herbalists Guild, P.O. Box 1683, Soquel, CA 95073; (408)464-2441. Or the American Botanical Council at P.O. Box 201660, Austin, TX 78720; (512) 331-8868
Recipes For Healing Teas
Cold and Flu Tea
1 part peppermint
Place two to four tablespoons of the herb mixture into an empty glass, ceramic, or stainless steel container. Boil a quart of water; pour over herbs; cover; steep for at least ten minutes, then strain. The tea will become more bitter the longer you brew it, so feel free to adjust the vinegar and honey to taste.
1 part valerian
To make a quart of tea, place two to four tablespoons of the herb mixture in a glass, ceramic, or stainless steel container; boil water and pour over herbs; cover and steep for at least 10 minutes; strain.
1 part oatstraw
Place two to four tablespoons of herbs in a glass, ceramic, or stainless steel container; boil water and pour herbs; cover and steep for at least 10 minutes; strain.
1 part horsetail
Pour a quart of boiling water over two to four tablespoons of herbs;
cover and steep for at least 10 minutes--even overnight; strain.
Laxative Tea - Drink At Bedtime
1 part senna leaves
Steep 1 tablespoon in 1-1/2 cups boiling hot water for 10 minutes. Sweeten as desired
2 parts peppermint leaf
Steep 1 tablespoon in 1 cup boiling water. Sip slowly.
Immunity Booster - three cups a day during cold or flu
2 parts echinacea root
Steep 2 tablespoons in 1 cup of boiling hot water.
1 part marshmallow root
Mix in equal parts. Steep 1 teaspoon in 1/2 cup boiling hot water. Sweeten with honey or rice syrup.
Ginseng Tonic Tea - for fatigue
1 part white Asian ginseng root
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