There's nothing quite as soothing as a cup of hot herbal tea. Add a little honey and a squeeze of lemon, and herbal teas can calm you down for a good night's sleep, relieve a sore throat, ease cold or flu symptoms and build your immune system up. Plus, deliciously so. Herbal teas also make fabulous iced tea in the summer for a refreshing, healthy drink that's not too sweet. And guess what? You can easily grow a small herbal tea garden and harvest your own herbs for home-grown and home-brewed herbal teas galore.
Find the Right Spot
Start by finding a sunny area, about 6 to 8 square feet, that you can commandeer for your herbal tea garden. Most herbs don't like having soggy roots, so you want an area that has well-draining soil. Though it's not necessary, it's nice if your herbal tea garden is close to your house, or in one of your favorite spots in the yard or garden so it's easy for you to access. When herbs are at the peak of their growth, you can easily harvest every day or every other day in small amounts. If you need to, you can work in some sand to lighten up heavier clay soil, and you can add some well-dried manure or organic compost to add beneficial nutrients and give your herbs a growth boost.
Plant Your Herbs
Each herb will have slightly different directions for planting in terms of depth and spacing, but the general gardening procedure is the same. Dig a hole or shallow trench, place your seeds or seedling into it, fill it with organic compost or top soil, water well. Consult the seed package or care tag for more details on how deep to plant each kind of seed or seedling, and how much to space it apart from the other herbs.
Best Herbs for Herbal Tea
These are my top choices for an herbal tea garden.
Chamomile: chamomile is well-known for its relaxing, even sleep-inducing properties. It's the perfect herb for a cuppa night-time calmness, and even young children enjoy chamomile with a little sweetener. Chamomile is very gentle, with a mild flavor that combines nicely with other herbs.
Mint: Iced mint tea is one of the best summer beverages possible, and it's even better when the mint comes straight from your own garden. You can grow peppermint or spearmint (or any other variety of mint!). Pineapple mint will give you a tea with tropical flavor, while chocolate mint is intriguing with depth.
Lemon balm: Lemon balm makes delicious hot or iced tea. It's especially good paired with chamomile, and the combination is not only relaxing but also useful in fighting off colds and building up the immune system.
Bergamot: Bergamot not only has nice flowers, which make it a pleasure to grow, but it has a slightly spicy flavor that translates well into tea, both hot and iced. Try bergamot with one of your mint varieties, or combine it with lemon balm for an invigorating tea.
image: liz west.