In addition to classics such as peppermint and lemon balm, lesser-known tea herbs such as honeydew melon sage, Indian nettle or anise hyssop will convince the passionate tea drinker with their fine aromas and beneficial ingredients. A real enrichment for every garden – culinary and visually!
Tea herbs and their use
Thyme tea for coughs, sage for sore throats and fennel to soothe the stomach – in the past, it was primarily their healing properties that guaranteed tea herbs a regular place in the bed. That they have remained popular household remedies to this day is beyond question. But we no longer need the threat of a cold or a twinge in our stomachs to brew ourselves a tea.
When drinking tea, another aspect now usually comes to the fore: enjoyment. In this respect, the large assortment of herbs has something to offer for every taste. In addition to the time-honored medicinal plants, there are a number of less common species that are just as suitable for making homemade herbal teas.
You can make your own teas even without having herbs in your garden; nature offers an abundance of plants all year round that are suitable for this purpose. If you keep your eyes open while walking through the woods, fields and meadows, you are sure to discover a lot. Nettles grow almost everywhere, yarrow and ribwort thrive in natural meadows, and blackberry leaves wait to be harvested at the edge of the forest. Collect only away from farmland, and avoid roadsides, dog runs, and railroad embankments. To help populations recover quickly, pick small amounts at a time!
Agastache: Lipwort from the Prairie
The leaves of anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) exude a wonderfully strong fragrance, somewhat reminiscent of licorice. This labiatae originally comes from the vast prairies of North America, but thrives just as well in sunny locations in our latitudes. Although the plants are not particularly long-lived, they always seed themselves abundantly and thus provide for offspring themselves.
With its upright and lilac-colored flower corollas, which attract legions of bees and bumblebees in summer, the agastache can even be excellently integrated into existing flower borders as a bee pasture. Among perennials, roses and annual summer flowers, the tea weed is in no way inferior to the ornamental plants.
A similarly decorative representative among the tea herbs is the cold-sensitive lime scented nettle (Agastache mexicana), which blooms in bright pink and smells wonderfully lemony.
Preserving Tea Herbs Correctly
Of course, tea tastes best when made from fresh herbs, but unfortunately these are not available all year round. In summer, leaves and flowers have the highest content of essential oils, and the plants grow so vigorously that it is impossible to consume everything at once. If you take precautions and stock up for fall and winter, you won’t have to do without delicious homegrown teas even during the cold season. Cut the shoots and gather them into bunches. Then hang the bunches upside down to dry in an airy place that is as dark as possible (such as the attic). Spread the plucked flowers out on trays. Once the herbs are completely dry, they should be packed in airtight cans or jars. Then the aromas of summer will be preserved for months.
Monarda: notes from bergamot to rose
There are also many exciting things for tea drinkers to discover in the Monarda genus. Monarda didyma has long since ceased to be an insider tip, but is nevertheless planted far too rarely. With its fine, fresh bergamot note, the Indian nettle is perfect for making your own Earl Grey tea. Simply mix a few leaves with the black tea! The flowers can be used at the same time.
The wild monarde (Monarda fistulosa) is spicier, resembles thyme and was already used by the Indians of North America as a medicine for respiratory diseases; the rose monarde (Monarda fistulosa x tetraploid) convinces as a tea herb with its flowery rose aroma.
Depending on the species and variety, monards bloom from June to September in pink, pink, red or white. Their beauty, the long-lasting flowering period and their extraordinary aromas therefore make the hardy perennial a popular object in plant breeding.
New, attractive crosses appear on the market every year. It is best to choose varieties that are less susceptible to powdery mildew. Otherwise, the fungus has an easy time of it, especially with temperature fluctuations and when dry and wet weather alternate constantly. Recommended are, for example, ‘Marshall’s Delight’, a selection in strong pink or the knee-high ‘Rececca’.
Lemon verbena for fruity aromas
Those who love fruity flavors should try a tea made from the leaves of lemon verbena (Aloysia citrodora), a favorite of many French people. Whether fresh or dried, it doesn’t get more lemony than this!
However, the plants are not hardy in our country. In the garden planted specimens are dug up before the first frosts and wait in the cool winter quarters for the next spring. Or you can cultivate the deciduous half-shrub in a pot on the terrace: in the planter, the tea herb does not grow quite as luxuriantly, but is moved all the more quickly in the fall.
Lovely tea herb: sage
Frost-free must also be brought over the cold season honeydew melon, peach and currant sage. The little-known relative of the true sage (Salvia officinalis) from Central America surprises with its decidedly sweet nuances and has enjoyed steadily increasing popularity in recent years.
Tips and tricks for herbal tea preparation
Use one teaspoon per cup for dried herbs, a little more for fresh herbs.
Always infuse with boiling water so that the herbal tea develops its full aroma!
Be sure to cover the cup or pot, so the essential vapors can not escape.
Let tea steep between 5 and 8 min, then strain.
Mint: classic among the tea herbs
The genus Mentha turns out to be even more versatile among tea herbs. With well over 600 different varieties of mint, even experts can easily lose track of them all.
While the high menthol content of true peppermint (Mentha x piperita) makes it taste intense, almost pungent, Moroccan or Turkish Nana mint produce a much milder tea. With strawberry or banana mint, the fruit components come to the fore and provide exotic taste experiences. In the search for your favorite variety, there’s only one thing to do: try it out and drink the tea.
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I have worked as a horticulture specialist lead gardener, garden landscaper, and of course i am a hobby gardener at home in my own garden.
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