How to make your own herbal tea
With everything else that’s going on, it’s easy to lose track of the days, let alone what month we’re in!
Believe it or not, we’re already in May, which means the shorter and colder days are here to stay until we hit spring. Sure, we all miss those summer nights (cue that classic Grease song), but that’s not to say this time of year isn’t special. In fact, we should embrace it.
by Rebecca Giorgilli
2 weeks ago
There’s nothing better than curling up on the sofa in some warm and comfortable clothes while it blows a gale or chucks it down with rain outside. It’s time for those scented candles, delicious soups, slow-cooked stews and, of course, soothing hot drinks in your favourite mug.
A cup of herbal tea can be such a powerful natural healer. Tea brings people together, it restores the body, warms us up, and there is a perfect tea blend for anything from sleep assistance to liver detoxification.
Obviously, like most things in this world, you can buy your tea bags from your local supermarket. But, to get the most out of these magical beverages, it’s so much better if you use fresh herbs — and, good news, it’s not hard to do!
How to dry your herbs
Some of us have a bit of a green thumb and enjoy growing our own herbs. But, let's face it, to start at this time of year, when the sun’s rays are at their weakest, growing brand new plants would prove quite difficult.
Instead, we advise you to pick up some fresh ingredients, like ginger, cinnamon or peppermint from the store to tide you over until you can potentially begin growing your own in the spring.
Herbs can be used fresh or dried to make tea, but the main difference between the two is that fresh herbs generally have a stronger scent but are not as potent as dried herbs.
If you want to use herbs with waxier leaves, they can be dried by hanging them upside down in a cool, dry room for one-to-three weeks. If those herbs contain valuable seeds, like fennel and coriander, they will need to be placed in a plastic bag so the seeds fall and collect at the bottom of the bag.
Larger, but softer-leafed varieties like parsley, basil and mint need to be dried quickly to prevent mould from forming. To perform a quicker dry, choose a warm, dry room and place the herbs on a towel on top of a drying rack. The more light the better, but avoid direct sunlight as this will bleach the herbs and cause them to lose flavour.
If, like many of us, you’re not willing to wait until your herbs are dry (understandable if you live in Victoria — it’s cold already!), then you can dry them quickly in the oven. Ensure you set the oven to a low temperature and leave the door open. Place the herbs on a baking sheet and turn them frequently. When the herbs start to turn crispy, remove them from the oven.
Time to steep
Once you’ve chosen your herbs it’s time to infuse them in some boiling water. They’re more special than your average tea bag, so treat them as such. They need at least 15 minutes in the hot water before being strained out.
The ratio of herbs-to-water is also key to creating the perfect brew. You’ll need more quantities of fresh herbs to bring out the flavour than if you’re using dried. Usually, making tea with fresh herbs requires three times as much than with dried. As a general rule of thumb, most teas are made using 1 teaspoon of dried primary herb and 1/2 teaspoon of dried secondary herb per cup.
If you want to add some extra flavour, you can add dried fruits like apples, mangoes or apricot, or add spices like cinnamon, ginger or black pepper. A little bit of honey also goes a long way!
Tea blends to get you started
Ginger & Tumeric Tea
This one is a really simple blend to get you started. Not only that, during flu season, it’s the perfect brew to help boost your immune system against all those nasty bugs flying around.
Did you know that ginger is an anti-inflammatory and helps prevent colds and flus? It’s because the ginger makes you sweat a healthy type of sweat, and according to The World’s Healthiest Foods, “that sweat contains a potent germ-fighting agent that may help fight off infections.”
Meanwhile, turmeric is well-known to have anti-bacterial and antiviral properties, as well as the ability to boost immunity.
- 2-3 cups water
- 1 teaspoon powdered ginger
- 1 teaspoon powdered turmeric
- One lemon, juiced
- boil the water
- Add 1 teaspoon each of powdered Ginger and powdered Turmeric. Stir, cover and let sit for 10-15 minutes.
- In the meantime, juice the lemon
- Pour into you cup(s) and enjoy
Family-friendly herbal chai
Making and drinking herbal chai together is a wonderful way to enjoy herbs with the whole family. After all, what could be better than a big mug of sweetly-spiced steamy goodness on a chilly day?
Chai is full of healthful herbs that aid digestion, warm the body, and gently boost the immune system. This recipe is caffeine-free and so is perfect for afternoon snack time or even in the evening before bed to gently stimulate digestion of the evening meal and help the body prepare for a good night’s sleep.
- 6 cups of water
- 14 green cardamom pods
- 12 cloves
- 16 whole black peppercorns
- 2 to 3 cinnamon sticks
- 4 slices of ginger root
- ½ to 1 teaspoon of fennel seeds
- 2 tablespoon of rooibos
- Up to 2 tablespoons total of other optional herbs, such as astragalus, calendula flowers, rose hips and petals, lycium berries, echinacea or holy basil
- 1 to 2 cups of milk or milk alternative
- Honey to taste
- Count the cardamon pods, cloves, peppercorns, and fennel seeds into a mortar
- Crush the herbs with a pestle
- Place all of the crushed herbs, ginger slices, and cinnamon sticks in a covered pot along with the water
- With the lid slightly askew on top of the pot to allow for some evaporation, simmer the herbs in the water for 15 to 20 minutes being careful not to boil your tea
- Remove from the heat and add the rooibos. Steep for another 5 minutes
- Strain the herbs out of the tea, rinse out your pot and put the tea back into the pot
- Add the milk and honey to taste. Gently warm until steamy hot
- Pour into mugs and enjoy
This Autumn Tonic Tea is full of herbs that will nourish the body and give it the nutrients it needs to stay healthy through these cold months.
It’s got some more complex ingredients, but they’re readily sourced online if you can’t find them at the market. Trust us, it’s well worth the work!
- 4 parts nettle leaf
- 3 parts spearmint leaf
- 3 parts lemon balm
- 2 parts mullein leaf
- 2 parts (combined) dandelion leaf and root
- 2 parts red clover blossoms
- 1 part rose hips
- 1 part Ginger Root (dried cut and sifted)
- If you haven’t already, store ingredients in a cool dry place
- Boil 4 cups of water and pour that water over the tea blend
- Let it steep for at least 15 minutes
- Strain the herbs out and enjoy
- You can even have this cold if desired
To your blossoming xxx
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