(This is the article I wrote for our local monthly magazine The Beacon, Issue 3, 2019)
Are you adventurous enough to drink more than just one sort of tea? If so, why don’t you grow your own herbal teas yet? It is healthy, delicious and it grows just at the reach of your hand! The collection in this photo are only few of the wide range you can grow in our beautiful climate of the Fraser Coast.
Growing herbs and plants for tea is a permanent component of our food forest and not only a part of our sustainable living choices but also lots of fun having such a diversity in the cupboard. And look at the colours the nature is offering to us! All of them are either perennials or self-seeding plants and are all grown naturally without any chemicals. They need to be planted once and then the only work I have from then is the harvest. They are all happy to have their own place in the food forest and just waiting to be harvested any time of the year. I take my basket, cut what I like and let it dry in a safe place like a netting bag on the patio, in our pantry or in a dehydrator depends on the weather conditions. All of the plants I grow and use for tea have multiple uses in the kitchen and we also use them fresh harvested in the every day cooking. It is definitely worth growing it for the little care they require. The names of the plants used for tea you see in the photo are:
Lemon Grass / Cymbopogan citratus
Cranberry Hibiscus / Hibiscus acetosellas
Butterfly Pea / Clitoria ternatea (the purple and the blue one, with and without lemon juice)
Rosella / Hibiscus sabdariffa
Lemon Verbena / Aloysia citrodora
Lemon Balm / Melissa officinalis
Elderberry-flower / Sambucus
Mulberry Leaf / Morus Nigra
All of them are so pretty that you can grow them at your front yard! The home grown herbal tea makes a beautiful gift for family and friends. It is also a great opportunity to involve kids in the “tea garden” and show them how easy and rewarding it is! If you want to see how I grow and collect the tea, check the video in my youtube channel.
The best harvesting time is the morning after the dew has evaporated
Collect only healthy looking leaves or flowers
You can make tea from fresh herbs but the dried leaves and flowers give more flavor
The perfect temperature for drying herbs is 35 degrees Celsius
The tea is ready for storage when the leaves are dry and crackly
Gardening tip for beginners: The better the soil the better the plant. There are many ways to enrich the soil naturally without using chemical fertilizer. More about it in the next issue.