Sunday, August 7, 2011

Growing Herbs for Tea and Tisanes

Wood pile and mountains near Darstetten, Switzerland.

I have some sort of stomach bug, so I am not having much in the way of tea these days.  Mostly just ginger or peppermint, both of which are good for the old tum.  Both are a nice addition to regular tea as well.  Ginger is good if you are prone to motion sickness and both can sweeten you breath.  And you can grow both of them easily.  Peppermint grows so easily it can become invasive and really only requires a moderately sunny spot.  It roots easily in water, so a sprig from a friend's plant will put you in business.

Ginger is a tiny bit more difficult as you need to find some that has fresh looking buds on it.  You plant this in a pot with some soil that has a high proportion of sand, water well and give it dappled sun.  You can grow it outside, but it must come in at the first hint of cold.  Go over to for more complete directions.  I don't have any at the moment, but I have grown this before and it is quite simple.

My lemongrass, another ingredient in herbal tisanes or addition to regular teas, is not doing superbly well.  One of the furpersons, Bert the Brat, has eaten far too much of it.  It also is in poor soil.  Soon I will be transplanting a number of my plants and this will definitely get some better soil and hopefully, some safety from this little marauder.  This is another plant you can almost get for free if you have an Asian market nearby.  Just look for shoots with roots attached, take them home and plant them.  Or check out your farmers market.  Mine has at least 2 people selling nice big plants for about $7.

Borage is not exactly a tea herb, but it has beautiful blue flowers that are edible and can add some pizazz to either ice or hot tea.  The have a very slight cucumber taste.  The leaves can be added to tea sandwiches or salad, as can the flowers.  It reseeds itself with joyful abandon.

Pineapple sage does indeed smell like pineapple and has the same mild taste.  This is a big fellow, but is so useful.  It makes a tasty herbal tea and if you use it's pretty red flowers, which have a sweet taste, it is a lovely color.  Again, it is handy in sandwiches and salads and in some desserts.

Rosemary, used sparingly makes a very nice tisane and I love it in salads.  In fact, I love to gather a handful of herbs, chop them finely and sprinkle them in salads.  They really spark up the taste, without being overwhelming.  Kind of a  less is more approach.

This is only a short list of all the possibilities there are in our gardens for either having as additions to our regular tea or making tisanes.  There are many more and from time to time, I'll tell you about them. 

What herbs do you grow and use in your teas?  There is such an abundance of them and so much room to experiment.

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