Why make your own herbal teas?
Growing your own organic herbs and flowers for a unique and refreshing tea is a lovely way to spend the summer. Drinking a restorative aromatic pungent tisane is a great way to spend the winter!
By drying your own herbs, you know how they have been grown and they are truly organic. Growing a large patch or favourite herbs will give Credit: Skeffling Lavender Farmpungent fresh tasting teas with the added bonus of beautiful flowers in the garden.
Hanging flowers to dry is a common way or drying herbs. Dust and humid summer air can make the dried herbs unhygienic or unpalatable. It is slow and drying can take weeks if conditions are not ideal.
Microwaving the herbs is another option as it is quick, and but only small quantities can be dried at a time. Microwaving herbs can be dangerous with sparks and oily herbs catching fire. Buying or building a good dehydrator is a great idea if you don't have a convection oven.
Harvesting your Plants for Teas
Harvest the chamomile flower heads on a fine day, mid morning. The dew will be gone and oils building but not evaporated in the heat of the day.
When harvesting, don't cut over half the stem length on a woody herb, like oregano or sage. Cutting 3/4 of a lush leafy herb doesn't seem to harm them.
Discard any leaves or flowers with obvious flaws like dead leaves, bird poo, or insect damage. Collect into clean dry containers. Use one container for each herb or flower, as it's very hard to separate them otherwise.
How to get the most aromatic and flavourful teas from your garden
Drying chamomile flowers for herbal tea
- Soak stems, leaves and roots in the sink to remove any dirt. Flowers like chamomile are delicate and unless visibly soiled, don't wash them, dry them as they are.
- Remove dead leaves and unwanted weeds.
- Rinse, then drain in a colander or strainer and spin dry in a salad spinner
- Lay herbs on a tinfoil lined baking sheet - you can even use a drying rack underneath to lift larger leaves off the tray and improve air circulation Using your instruction manual, set your stove to 'convect' and 'drying' (140*F is best)
- Dry until the herbs break when crunched up, and tiny crumbs of herb are formed. Chamomile heads are light and dry fast usually within an hour. Some thicker layers of thicker herbs take 6 or more.
- Don't break the chamomile heads up any more than is necessary, this to keep the oils in and the flavour
- Store your teas, labelled, in dark place. Jam jars work well and are Credit: Skeffling Lavender Farminexpensive compared to tiny spice jars that don't hold much.
- You can buy small paper tea bags you fill on the open side, and seal with a hot iron. If you want to, you can make your own favourite herbal tea blends this way.
- Enjoy a fine cup of herbal tea made with a teaspoon of dried chamomile as a reward for that hard work!
Awesome herbal tea flavor!
Usually teas dried and stored this way still have more aroma and flavour after even a year than newly store-bought tea! Herbal teas make a great gift in spa packages, Christmas hampers, get well presents and "just because"! Mint teas are a real favourite too!
Credit: Skeffling Lavender Farm