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Growing Herbs for Soothing Teas

July 19th, 2010

I’m a big fan of hot beverages, even in the summer. Most of the time you’ll find me with a cup of coffee or hot tea, especially during those cold winter months here in NE Ohio. When it comes to tea, I usually prefer herbal teas of all kinds over black tea. I like black tea iced, but not particularly served hot. As I’ve gotten more and more into gardening and growing more of my food, naturally I started growing some of my own herbs for tea. One of my favorite herbal teas is chamomile, it’s particularly good in the evenings since it’s soothing and calming (especially for people like me with slight insomniac tendencies). It’s also a wonderful herb for aiding in digestion, nothing cures stomach duress like a nice warm cup of chamomile ginger tea.

Last year my chamomile didn’t germinate well, and I ended up with one one small plant. It produced a nice crop of flowers, but not nearly enough for the amount of tea I drink in a year’s time. I had a quarter cup or less of dried blossoms by the end of the year. This year I decided I’d grow as much as I could, and boy to I have a crop of chamomile! I’ve been faithfully harvesting it every couple days, drying it on a plate in the attic and storing it in a jar. Happily I’ve been watching the quart jar fill up knowing that I’ll have plenty to get me through the coming winter. I may be able to drink chamomile tea every night before bed.

I still have a ton of chamomile blooming in the garden, so I’ll keep harvesting. I may be able to get an extra pint of dried blossoms. The extra will be used for watering my seedlings in the spring. I’ve read it’s particularly good at helping with fungal diseases and dampening off. I’ll make sure to keep you posted on this experiment come seed starting season. In the coming years I’ll be adding more and more tea herbs to my garden as I expand my flowerbeds and get rid of plants that don’t thrive. I haven’t decided which ones to add next, but I’m sure I’ll find some good ones from Richter’s. I’ve also been experimenting with growing tropical herbs in pots as houseplants. Currently I’m starting ginger and lemongrass (more on that later).

Are you a hot or a cold beverage person?

28 Comments to “Growing Herbs for Soothing Teas”
  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by mark mile, Susy Morris. Susy Morris said: Growing #Herbs for Soothing Teas http://goo.gl/fb/QZ1mt #chamomile #growyourown #growingherbs […]

    Reply to Tweets that mention Growing Herbs for Soothing Teas | Chiot’s Run — Topsy.com's comment

  2. Mangochild on July 19, 2010 at 5:50 am

    I waver between the two. Hot teas are very soothing – but not on a hot day for me. (I say “for me” because some members of my family insist that a hot drink on a hot day is cooling). This year, I’m growing chamomile, various mints, lemon-y herbs (forgetting the name just now), rosemary, and thyme. I’ve found the mint particularly useful as it can do double-duty in both hot teas and cool summer fruit drinks. Plus, it grows quickly, is persistent, and easy to dry/harvest.
    Mangochild´s last post ..Canning Time Again

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  3. Sheryl at Providence Acres Farm on July 19, 2010 at 6:39 am

    I need to be growing my own chamomile. What a great idea! I think I’ll look for some seeds.

    Do you put the entire dried flower head in a cup of boiling water to make tea?

    I like your blog!
    Sheryl at Providence Acres Farm´s last post ..Using All That Mint

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    • Susy on July 19, 2010 at 8:42 am

      I usually drop the whole flower heads in my tea, I usually use 3-4 flowers per cup of tea.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  4. Chris Danner on July 19, 2010 at 8:24 am

    Hot tea in the winter, iced in summer. Try growing your own lemon balm and lemon verbena – both make great tisanes, hot or cold

    Reply to Chris Danner's comment

    • Susy on July 19, 2010 at 8:43 am

      I do have lemon balm and lemon verbena in the garden. The lemon verbena gets wintered over in the basement since our climate is too cold for it. It was a wonderful lemon smell!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  5. hillwards on July 19, 2010 at 8:30 am

    Your jar of chamomile flowers looks so beautiful that it’s almost reason enough to grow them, even if you don’t drink chamomile tea! I’ve not yet tried tea from the garden herbs, but I do have my first pot of mint raised from seed so I may start with that…
    hillwards´s last post ..First Cucumber

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  6. Sense of Home on July 19, 2010 at 8:35 am

    Hot tea is my choice of drink. No matter what the herb in the tea it helps to settle my stomach, where I seem to carry my stress. Perhaps it is the simple act of drinking a cup of tea that is calming.

    I love the idea of growing ginger or lemongrass in the house, let us know how that turns out. I grow mint outside, but that is all I have at this time.

    -Brenda
    Sense of Home´s last post ..Stocking the Larder

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  7. Rhonda on July 19, 2010 at 8:48 am

    I like hot beverages. I drink hot tea practically all day herb tea, black tea, green tea — it doesn’t matter. When I used to work in an office, people would always comment about the amount of tea I drank like it was something terrible and they would say this as they drank from their bottomless cans of diet coke. Piffle. Go figure!

    I like my teas to be a bit savory so I like a little sage lavender and some nettle. There’s a ton of nettle that grows near here, so it’s fun to grab some gloves and pick it. The neighbors think I’m crazy for picking the weeds. :-)

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    • Susy on July 19, 2010 at 9:18 am

      I too like savory teas. When I’m sick I drink oregano cayenne tea and it works like a charm, cuts my sickness in half and clears out the sinuses.

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • Amy on July 19, 2010 at 10:44 am

        Susy would you mind trying to give some sort of recipe to this it sounds interesting and I always try to do holistic…..thanks….

        to Amy's comment

      • Susy on July 19, 2010 at 11:30 am

        Sure, usually I add a teaspoon or two of crushed oregano and an eight or quarter teaspoon of cayenne (depending on your palate). Strain into cup, sweeten with raw honey to taste and enjoy. Keep some tissues handy as the cayenne really helps get the sinuses clearing!

        You can also add a sprig of rosemary as it’s also great for treating the cold and flu.

        I also breathe oregano/rosemary/eucalyptus steam when I’m feeling congested or I feel like I’m getting sick, this does wonders at clearing out lungs and sinuses and sometimes if I start early enough it never actually turns into the cold/flu.

        to Susy's comment

      • Amy on July 19, 2010 at 11:55 am

        Thankyou:)

        to Amy's comment

  8. Rhonda on July 19, 2010 at 8:50 am

    Oh — since you were talking about tea for your garden — Nettle makes a great garden tea. It stinks to high heaven, but it’s supposed to be very good. Another one that’s good for the garden is comfry. Just pull off the big lower leaves and lay them under your plants.

    Reply to Rhonda's comment

    • Susy on July 19, 2010 at 9:17 am

      Oh yes, I have a bunch of comfrey. I use it for plants and for salves. I have some Russian Blocking #14 and a few old fashioned plants I got from my mom who got them from my grandma. I’m trying to propagate more and more of those around the gardens to improve the soil.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  9. Stace on July 19, 2010 at 9:52 am

    That chamomile is just so pretty. I’ve never had any luck here in NYC growing it in containers – one of the reasons I’d love to live outside of the city would be to have my own “tea garden.” I am a huge fan of mint tea and lemon balm tea – those are great to grow just about anywhere – so prolific, and so easy to dry.

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    • Susy on July 19, 2010 at 11:25 am

      I too love lemon balm, this reminds me I must head out and harvest more mint & lemon balm to dry as well.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  10. kristin @ going country on July 19, 2010 at 10:24 am

    The idea of drinking a hot beverage when the weather is hot and sticky makes me want to die. Likewise drinking anything cold when it’s 50 degrees in our house. Because, of course, we have neither air conditioning nor reliable heat. Lots of iced drinks in the summer and lots of hot tea in the winter is the only way to survive.
    kristin @ going country´s last post ..I Spy

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  11. Amy on July 19, 2010 at 10:42 am

    Hot……another good hot tea to ward or offset colds for me is this……fresh grated ginger…….fresh squeezed lemon juice……raw honey…..enough water to dilute…..I love this stuff…..I don’t have exact measurements I just fiddle with it until it tastes as I think it should:)

    Reply to Amy's comment

  12. Jaspenelle on July 19, 2010 at 11:19 am

    I am a black tea person both hot and cold. Almost every morning a steaming cup of tea is part of my breakfast and in the summer I also brew a pitcher of sweet tea for the rest of the day. I’ve tried switching to green tea once as I heard it was healthier but it made me gag. Then I read a study that black tea is good for you too, but that was around the time I decided to ignore health studies and do what I like (in moderation…)

    Anyhow, off topic a bit wasn’t I? I am really picky about my herbal teas and there are some I just don’t like. Spearmint and Peppermint top that list, I only had mint tea as a child when I was sick so it tastes like medicine to me. I crave it when I don’t feel well though. My favorite herbal tea is rose, but I have yet roses that set decent hips that will also grow in Spokane.

    I grew chamomile this year but just one plant (it was a gift from a friend) I love the tea so I definitely want to have more next year. Mine has gone to seed, I wonder if it will self seed?
    Jaspenelle´s last post ..Photography Contest

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    • Susy on July 19, 2010 at 11:25 am

      I have had a few chamomile plants come back from seed occationally, I think it depends on the winter.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  13. Amy on July 19, 2010 at 12:10 pm

    Ooo, this is a very interesting post with great comments! I’m intrigued by the idea of making my own herbal teas but have never tried it. The most I’ve done is put a few lemon balm leaves in a glass of iced tea, and I couldn’t taste it. I will be back to read through these comments and try some of the combos suggested here.

    Now, do you use the whole dried chamomile flower in the tea? Do you use a tea ball or muslin, or just put all the ingredients in a strainer, or…?
    Amy´s last post ..Mama- or Amysflock 25

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    • Susy on July 19, 2010 at 12:24 pm

      I use the whole flowers and whatever other combination of herbs I feel like, sometimes just chamomile, sometimes I add ginger, lemon, peppermint, bergamot, anise hyssop, etc. I add the herbs to a mason jar and add hot water, steep for 15 min, then put a piece of cheesecloth over the opening of the jar and pour into mugs. This allows me to make 2 cups at a time (since Mr Chiots always welcomes a cup of tea as well) and I don’t have to keep a teapot around.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  14. Annette on July 19, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    I would like to become more of a tea drinker. It is the after taste that can be challenging to me. I do grow a forest of mint and this is one tea that not seem to produce an after taste for me. There is a bug, though, that creates scales on the leaves which means I cannot use those. Any idea on who this critter is and how I can get him out of my mint bed?

    Love this information!
    Annette´s last post ..Cordials are brewing

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  15. MAYBELLINE on July 19, 2010 at 1:23 pm

    COLD!
    Even in the winter.
    MAYBELLINE´s last post ..Garden Beasties

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  16. NM on July 19, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    Jaspenelle,
    Most roses are grafted. Try seeking out own root roses; they should be tougher. You also might try some of the older varieties. I’m pretty sure my cousin successfully grew roses in Spokane. She had the most amazing soil; I was jealous!
    I drink tea hot or room temperature; don’t tend to ice it, but if it cools off I still drink it. Black, green and herb, and I grow mint and lemon balm (actually that invaded; I don’t grow it, just harvest it) for tea. Also rose petals and honeysuckle blossoms, and sometimes rose hips, if I successfully manage to harvest and dry them. Most of my herbs are for cooking; would love to have room to grow more tea herbs. Had an anise hyssop, but it died. :{ I also like to drop a few pieces of dried rhubarb into water for flavoring. Nettles go into soup broth more than tea, but if we’re sick with something, I add it to the tea, too, along with some dried elderberries. The chamomile ginger sounds wonderful; will have to try that.

    Reply to NM's comment

  17. Turling on July 20, 2010 at 10:11 am

    Funny, I was just speaking with my wife the other day that we should put in a tea garden. The timing of this is perfect. I look forward to following you on your tea journey.
    Turling´s last post ..Finally Game Day

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  18. nic@nipitinthebud on August 11, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    hot definitely and I have an entire cupboard devoted to herbal teas (or ‘horrid herbals’ as a caffeine loving friend calls them). I have so many varieties because I really believe in the power of plants for healing. I grew chamomile from seed for the first time this year but only in a single pot and realised too late I could have done with scattering the entire packet far and wide at the allotment! I shall follow your lead next year. I also meant to dry elderflower heads (amazing for colds) but forgot that too
    nic@nipitinthebud´s last post ..from plot to pan and back again

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