Gardening Vivian | 29 Mar 2011 08:00 am

Tea Herb Gardening – A Guide to Growing and Harvesting Your Tisane Herbs

When you think about what to do with your herbs there are many options. One of the most satisfying and easy is to use them to make tea. You get the full taste of the herb alongside numerous health benefits which include reducing stress all the way to reducing your cancer risk. Herbs such as chamomile and lemon balm are being researched at the moment and the number of proven benefits continues to increase.

Amongst the herb grower community, there is a small amount of disagreement over the term that should be used to describe these herbs. The word ‘tea’ is usually used to describe the drinkable parts of the Camellia sinensis plant. Therefore an additional word ’tisane’ was coined to describe any herbal teas that were not made from the tea plant itself. As most people are familiar with the word ‘herbal tea’ that is the one that I will be using for both kinds of teas.

The list of herbs that can be made into tea is almost unlimited. The best part is that most of the best herbs for tea are those that are most easy to grow. Here is a list of herbs that I recommend for your teapot:

* Anise/ Aniseed
* Boldo
* Catnip
* Cerasse
* Chamomile
* Echinacea
* Fennel
* Lemon Balm
* Mint
* Sage

The easiest way to make tea is to simply cut off the required portion (Usually 2-3 tablespoons is plenty) and then pour boiling water on top. For the best flavor fresh herbs should be used, if you use dried herbs you may have to add more herbs to the pot. As a general rule the leaves are the most flavorful part, however stems or twigs may sometimes be used too. This can be great as it allows you to use some of the ‘unusable’ parts of the plant. Some herbs may be a little bitter, so you may want to add some honey or sugar.

Some herbs taste great by themselves, but can taste fantastic in combination with other herbs or fruits. The best part is that you only use a little bit of the herb, so you can really have fun experimenting with many different flavorful mixtures. For example sweet flavors with chamomile are great as are bitter flavors with mint.

The best time to harvest herbs for tea is the same time that you would harvest herbs for the cooking pot:

* Harvest the herbs early in the morning when it is cool and dry as heat and rain will reduce some of the oils that make the herb taste good.

* Check whether your herb tastes best before or after the flowers bloom. As a general rule, most a best harvested before blooming

* Make sure that you harvest before cold or exceptionally hot spells as these will often hinder growth.

Tea herbs often yet another use for your herb garden. It is a great way to relax after gardening or before food to get your taste buds working.

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