Growing a Tea Garden

Growing a Tea Garden

tea

One of the more relaxing parts of my evenings is enjoying a good cup of herbal tea. This year I decided to grow my tea garden. A true cup of black tea is often from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis, which is an evergreen shrub or small tree which grows hardy in zones 8-11. For large fields, they are grown in high humidity and at a higher sea level. However, I planted a plant near the back of my house shaded by a large pecan tree for most of the day, only getting late afternoon sun.  I prepared the bed with lots of compost mixed with sand and ran a drip line to the area. The plant likes a pH of 4.6 to 5.0. These plants can grow about five feet tall with early spring and summer blooms; however, I prune mine down to around three feet collecting tea leaves. An added plus is that the flowers are edible also.

The herbal plants I like best in my tea adventures are Bee Balm (see earlier post), variations of different mints (currently the citrus mint, spearmint, and peppermint), sweet basil, lavender, lemongrass, rose hips, marigolds, thyme, and chrysanthemums.  If you find dandelions, don’t weed them out, replant them in a pot and use them for cooking and teas. I also use spruce needles and rosemary needles). There are so many types of plants to use that I plan to add to my tea garden for variety each year. Sometimes I add dry orange slices, orange peel, lemon peel, dried pomegranate,  star anise, and different spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, saffron, and other spices.

To make your tea mixtures, I spread them out on parchment paper on a cookie sheet and let them dry slowly in my dehydrator (or an oven at 100 degrees for three hours). Store in vacuum jars or zip lock bags, placing one of those little fresh bags you find in boxes of food, shoes, or other items.  When ready to use, mix several types, or use singly. Lightly chop the leaves or flowers and let them brew in hot water for 10-15 minutes, then strain and reheat to drink.  If you leave the herbs in too long, they release a bitter tannin flavor.  I made little net bags to put my tea mixtures, but loose in the pot is fine also.  I will share more recipes in the future.

Some of my recipes or blends:

WAKE UP TEA

1 part rosemary leaf

1 part ginseng root

8oz hot water

FATIGUE

Ginseng

Peppermint

Rosemary

Cinnamon and  Orange peels

STRESS

Peppermint

Bee Balm

Chrysanthemum blossoms

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