I have a little herb garden in my backyard, perfect for snipping a little basil or parsley or oregano when I’m cooking dinner. What it’s also great for is growing herbs for tea. Mint is one of the easiest things to grow (and one of the hardest to contain) and it’s also really simple to dry and use for tea all winter long.
A lot of herbs can be dried. I generally dry mint, lemon balm, and lavender. Some herbs (such as basil and parsley) do lose their flavour when dried at home. (I like the book Your Backyard Herb Garden by Miranda Smith for advice on how to preserve which herbs.)
Because you are preserving the leaves, herbs like mint are best cut before they have flowered. Once they have flowered, the plant is putting its energy into the flowers and seeds, and the leaves will taste less intense.
Once you’ve cut the stems, tie them in bunches and hang them upside down in a dark, warm place. Within a couple weeks, the leaves will be crunchy and crumbly. At this point, strip the leaves from the stems and store them in glass jars out of direct sunlight.
Enjoy your tea all winter long!
For more on herbs, check out our post from the Herbal Vinegar and Honey workshop.
Yours in food,
We had the following question over on our facebook page:
“Do you have a recipe for tea. How many leaves for a cup and is it possible to make it from fresh leaves too?”
Here was my response:
“I don’t really measure the dry leaves, I just fill up my tea ball. It’s probably just under a tablespoon of dried leaves. Yes, you can use fresh too. Sometimes I’ll make an iced herbal tea. Pick 2-3 stems of mint, and pull the leaves off. A little lavender or sage is good too. Stuff into a tea pot and “bruise”the leaves with the back of a spoon. (Helps release the flavour). Pour boiling water over the leaves. Let sit for a little while and then chill. (If you’d like iced tea.)
“I’ve also been meaning to try sun tea, but haven’t gotten around to making it yet: http://www.designsponge.com/2010/07/small-measures-with-ashley-herbal-sun-teas-simple-syrups.html”.
What do you like to do with your herbs?