Help me get started with a tea garden
August 27, 2012 10:17 AM   Subscribe

What herbs can I grow to make my own tasty, medicinal, and/or magical teas? I'd love to hear your tea recipes, too.
posted by swift to Home & Garden (11 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Peppermint is notoriously easy to grow.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:27 AM on August 27, 2012

Nthing peppermint. Medicinally it's good for upset stomachs (nausea, gas, you name it), and taste-wise, straight-up peppermint tea, iced, is THE ABSOLUTE BEST in summer.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:36 AM on August 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

Add some sage. It sounds wrong (to me) but tastes so right. And lemon balm-but in a pot bc that stuff will grow everywhere.
posted by atomicstone at 10:46 AM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Sage makes fabulous tea. Just steep 3-4 large leaves in a mug of hot water for 5 minutes.
posted by BrashTech at 10:46 AM on August 27, 2012

Anything in the mint family will grow like the blazes, and that's a huge variety of plants: apple mint, cat mint, peppermint, spearmint, pineapple mint... all good for stomach aches and make great refreshing teas in the summer or comforting hot teas in the winter. Just be aware that if you plant mint, unless it's exclusively in pots (and sometimes even then) you are going to be mowing your mint lawn within two years (which is fine, 'cause it smells great!)

Growing fresh catnip and giving it to all the local kitties is great fun, and it's another one that's easy to grow. Rosemary likes dry, hot conditions but is relatively hardy (don't believe the tags if they tell you it can't stand a freeze) and is great for savory dishes and smells wonderful. Oregano and sage and thyme like the same conditions as rosemary-- plant them together. Interestingly, I drank oregano, sage, thyme and rosemary tea from my plants last winter every time I thought a cold was developing-- stopped it in its tracks.

Basil is also easy. It won't survive the winter, but you can let it flower and save the seeds and plant again next year. Easy to store, too, just whizz it up with olive oil in a blender and freeze it in baggies or ice cube trays. Then make all your friends jealous with your delicious marinara and pasta dishes throughout the winter.

Lavender can be tricky, depending on where you are, but is well-worth it if you have the right conditions. It smells nice, makes amazing tea or lemonade, and the flowers can be used in hot rice packs for headaches and other such.

Really, just get any good "growing medicinal and culinary herbs" book and see what it suggests for your zone. Everything from roses to pine needles can be medicinal or part of a tasty dish. As far as magical herbs go... well, what do you mean by that? Plants that have traditionally been used in folk magic/hoodoo, or plants that you can use in aromatherapy, or plants that are hallucinogens, or what? There are a lot of good resources out there about that as well: a quick Google search should get you a lot, and if you want to go even more in depth there are tons of books.
posted by WidgetAlley at 10:54 AM on August 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

Marketspice, in Seattle, has a cinnamon-orange house blend of tea that's astonishing-- it tastes sweet, but it has no sugar added. I'm sure it's a black tea with the aforementioned additions. It's refreshing at any temp, but I like it cold; it's like drinking sweet-tea without cracking your teeth open.

If you want to get a little deeper into this stuff, learn about distillation-- most states allow you to have a very small still (in the 1L range) for distilling oils and essences of flowers, fruits, herbs, etc.
posted by Sunburnt at 11:09 AM on August 27, 2012

As far as magical herbs go... well, what do you mean by that?

I was thinking of plants that have been traditionally used for folk magic, but also (legal) psychotropic plants. Or even just medicinal plants that make you say "wow, it worked like magic."
posted by swift at 11:12 AM on August 27, 2012

Chamomile is easy to grow, though I guess it depends where you are, and makes a lovely tea which while not magical tastes nice and is very relaxing.

Any of the mint family are a great place to start. Citrus trees while not technically a herb if you have the climate, can make a lovely addition to teas and bergamont is what gives earl grey it's distinctive taste. You can use the flowers from some plants too such as roses and jasmine and hibiscus as well as citrus flowers.

I love a lavender, citrus, sage combo to cheer me up. Chamomile & hibiscus, which is nice with or without lemongrass to put me to sleep or relax me.
posted by wwax at 11:12 AM on August 27, 2012

I like peppermint and lemongrass tea with some dried lemon peel in there, too. A lemon tree would be very appropriate for a tea garden, if you have the right space and climate. Lemongrass can be grown in containers.

I drink parsley tea to help with ladyproblems. Be careful, because it's a pretty strong emmenagogue (that means it stimulates menstruation), but it works wonders for me. I have no clue if you have the relevant bodyparts, but parsley is just a very useful herb to have around no matter what. You can make the tea with other stuff - chamomile is common - but I like it straight. It's interestingly savory.
posted by Mizu at 11:34 AM on August 27, 2012

Oatstraw (catgrass) is wonderfully calming and easy to grow. Mullein can be hard to grown, but is medicinal and of help for several conditions (coughing and lung stuff, particularly. You'll want to strain mullein tea, as the little hairs can irritate the throat.)

Reading list: Susun Weed, Matthew Wood, Michael Tierra.
posted by Riverine at 12:00 PM on August 27, 2012

Lemon balm is easy to grow and makes a nice herb tea on its own or in a blend.
posted by zadcat at 2:32 PM on August 27, 2012

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