Thursday, April 12, 2012

I don't buy.... Herbal Tea

I enjoy a nice cup of herbal tea every so often. I used to buy boxes of bagged tea which though it wasn't extremely expensive, it wasn't all that cheap either. I also prefer less packaging if possible.

Since herbal tea was what I like anyway it wasn't to challenging to switch to growing and using my own herbs. Peppermint plants grow very nicely up here in Northern MN (zone 3 and sometimes more like zone 2) and come back year after year. Catnip has also grown and thrived here. Echinacea is another good herbal tea source. Last year I also gather Wild Bergamount, Hyssop and Yarrow (though I don't like the taste of yarrow - I decided that would be strictly medicinal) from the wild.

 Those herbs have been my main source of tea so far but I am hoping to both grow more herbs and find out about more wild ones. It is fun to have a variety, both for the fun of drinking them and also for the different medicinal properties that they have.

To use herbs we grow or find for tea the process I use is:

~Collect them, I generally cut off the whole stem of the herb and bundle a bunch of stems together. It is nice to get them when they are clean after a rain and you do want to look them over to get bugs off and pick off any yucky leaves. For Echinacea I simply pick leaves.

~Hang them up to dry. I just bundle them together and hang them up (my best place right now is above my kitchen sink) to dry.

~After they are dry put them in a container so they don't get dusty and to keep them in better shape.

~To make tea for just one I use my little metal tea leaf holder (shown above) but when I am making it for the family I just put a couple of stems with the leaves on it into our teapot which strains out leaves at the spigot. If you don't have a tea ball I found this cool idea and instructions for making reusable cloth tea bags.

~To drink I like to sweeten it with honey or maple syrup.

We also have discovered that we very much like iced herbal tea. It is a very inexpensive, but very enjoyed drink around here.

 Do you like herbal tea? Have you tried growing your own herbs or collecting them? What beverages does your family like?

I am linking this post to Frugal Friday at Life as MOM.


Becky R said...

I grow spearmint and use it as a tea all summer. i don't even dry it, I just pick fresh and makes sun tea. So yummy. I also dry some for winter use. I wish I had some left, can't wait to grow more.

GracefullyCreated said...

I started gather herbs for tea when I was about 16, now at 24 in my own home I havent had a chance to for the last year, but definitly plan to this year. Growing up we had TONS of wild raspberry and roses around so I gathered the raspberry leaves and rose hips and dried them. I also have gathered wild wintergreen, and other ones that I can't even remember right now, I LOVE that its so inexpensive and that I can do it myself :)I haven't yet tried gathering teas for medicinal purposes, simply because I havent educated myself in that area yet. Thanks for the post :). BTW I live in the area and would be interested in bartering for extra honey if you get some this year?

Lady Violet said...

It is dry and dusty where we live and it rains very little so nothing grows very well here unless artificially watered. This is not economic, so we buy herbs to drink. Here the herbal teas are linden flower - a tea used to relax and make you sleep better* and ideal to give to babies or children who have nightmares,etc., mint or chamomile, the latter with a slice of lemon.
*Must be drunk cool. If not, it has the opposite effect.

Abbi said...

Becky, I forgot to mention that I too use fresh herbs in the summer time. I guess I have been using the dried ones lately so I didn't think about that. I probably should add that to my post. That is neat that you have spearmint to use.

Gracefully Created,
Thanks for the additional ideas for gathering things for herbal teas. I have never tried drying wintergreen leaves though I enjoy eating the berries.
About honey- if I have extra this fall I would be willing to barter some. I have others that would like to do that too however and I try to give quite a bit away to family and friends so I don't know if I will or not. If you are looking for raw local honey I do know of other beekeepers in the area if you want to send me an e-mail I could send you their contact information.

Lady Violet, I have heard of but never used Linden flower- thanks much for the information!


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