Start a Tea Garden
Start a Tea Garden
Exotic teas, just like coffee nowadays; can get fairly pricey. If you drink a lot of tea, you know what I mean. And plain old large bag style Lipton doesn't always cut it. I for one, am an advocate of peach and cherry flavored teas, cold. I can't find the large peach flavored teabags anymore, and it's almost impossible to find cherry teas in any form. So I began looking into ways to grow my own flavors, and not only save money, but enjoy the satisfaction of knowing I made them myself.
A few things to point out when making your own teas. You will need to buy a few special things. Some people use 'teaballs' to steep the loose leaf tea leaves in. Others actually go to the trouble of making their own tea bags. If you cut the leaves up to just the right size, I find that the teaballs work just fine, and I don't have to spend the extra time cutting, folding and stapling together tiny little teabags. I'd rather be in the garden. A Food processor is also a handy appliance, to cut the leaf for you. You can also use a Food dehydrator to speed up the leaf and flower drying process. If it's not too humid and hot and sunny, you can also place these items outside on a parchment lined tray to dry naturally.
Many tea concoctions taste best if not dried. Leaves, blooms or roots are instead used fresh. These also make the strongest teas, and many of the home remedy teas are used in this way. Steeping these types of teas consists of simply brusiing the plant part in question with mortar and pestle, and placing in a jar of fresh, clean water. They are either allowed to set in the sun to slowly steep, or they are added to freshly boiled water and allowed to steep for 5 or 6 minutes before being strained and the tea consumed.
Don't add the tea plant to water and then boil! This kills the volatile oils, and any benefits one could have considered from the tea have become pretty useless. Always add the leaf to already boiled water that has been removed from the stove and placed into an appropriate container, either for steeping large amounts or a tea cup for one personal use.
It's amazing just how many plants a person can make teas from. Camellia was the original tea leaf used by the Chinese and still brewed today. Fanciful flowers, roots, and even stems of particular plants are used in many blended teas in the past and up to today. You can also make special tea concoctions for particular ailments, if one is into home rememdies.
Some basic plants for basic teas include camellia, or Camellia sinensis to get botanically perfect, is one plant you must have to make any base tea of worth. It is used to make black and green teas. Other noteworthy tea plants include lavendar, orange and lemon leaf and blossoms, blueberry blossoms, hibiscus, chamomile, impatiens, ginger, elderberry blossoms, mint, lemon verbena, cherry blossoms, apple blossoms, peach blossoms, linden, lemongrass, spearmint, passion flower, honeysuckle blossom, pineapple guava, and many herbs. Those roses growing in the garden also make a delightful, light, flowery tea. The 'hips', or the berry that develops and swells after the rose flower dies, is also used in teas and other concoctions.