As an avid tea drinker, I love to grow my own herbs throughout the summer and add them to my teapot. There are so many herbs that can be used, but the ones that I like are mint, garden sage, pineapple sage, and catnip. However, you can also use lemon balm, chamomile, lavender, lemongrass, and many more.
I usually make my tea one pot at a time, and because of this I do not dry my herbs, I just pick them and put them in the pot. You can dry them if you want; they keep better. Drying can release more flavour from the herbs. However, for my tea, I usually use store-bought tea bags as a base and then add the herbs to bring a unique flavour to my drink.
I start with a mix of black tea and green tea, usually store bought bags but loose leaf also works. Then I add one good-sized sprig of mint, a few leaves of garden sage (as much as your plant will offer. I have one growing in Tsawwassen that is very small so I only use a little. I also have access to a plant in Summerland that is very large so I can use quite a bit), a sprig of pineapple sage, and a sprig of catnip. I pick all the leaves off of the stem and add the leaves to the pot with the tea bags. Then I pour in the hot water and steep for a good length, usually between five and ten minutes. After that, it is ready to serve.
This mix also makes a great iced tea. What I do to make my iced tea is first pour a cup of hot tea from the pot to free space for ice. Then I add two heaping teaspoons of honey (sugar also works) and stir it in the pot with the tea bags removed. I add the tea bags back in when the honey is dissolved. Then I fill the pot up with ice. This cools the tea enough that you could have a glass of iced tea right then, if poured into a cup also full of ice. Usually, though, I keep adding ice until either the teapot is full again or the ice no longer melts quickly. Then I put the tea into the refrigerator and let it sit overnight. This makes delicious sweetened iced tea.
Adding herbs to your tea has many benefits. Each herb will make your tea taste more unique, and they allow for a lot of creativity and variation with each new batch. Each herb also has its own soothing effects. Mint, for example has a calming effect and helps with digestion. Catnip also has a calming effect. Pineapple sage adds a natural sweetness to your tea, while garden sage adds an earthy flavour to your brew. Some herbs can have a detoxification affect when added to tea, like milk thistle and nettles. Lemon balm will add a lemon scent and slight flavour to your tea as well as having a calming effect.
Tea is a great drink no matter the season. It can be drunk either hot or cold and it is a great, natural way to relieve stress. If you are growing herbs this summer, definitely try to make your own homegrown brew. As stated, I start with a couple tea bags as a base and then add my herbs for a unique flavour.
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