Using fresh herbs to make tea

Published 25th July 2016 by Michelle

Nothing is more comforting than a good cuppa, a brew, a cup of Rosy Lee. Herbal teas are becoming more and more popular for their health benefits – and also because there are just so many flavours available to try! You can make your own herbal tea, using herbs fresh from the garden. Here I show you how to brew a soothing pot of chamomile tea and a zingy pot of Moroccan mint tea.

German Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla)

Chamomile Tea

Chamomile is commonly thought to be a soothing herb which helps with sleep and can calm an upset stomach. Chamomile tea made with fresh flowers is less bitter than when made with dried chamomile flowers. Fresh chamomile tea has a fresh taste of apples and adding a sprig of peppermint to the teapot perfectly complements this flavour.

To make Chamomile Tea:

  1. Pick fresh chamomile flowers from your chamomile plant and a sprig of mint from a peppermint plant.
  2. Wash the flowers and mint.
  3. Place 3-4 tablespoons of the flowers and the sprig of mint into an infuser teapot (like the one pictured). You could also infuse the tea using a small sieve resting over a mug or bowl.
  4. Pour approx 300ml just boiled water into the teapot making sure the water level is high enough to steep the flowers.
  5. Leave to brew for 5 minutes.
  6. Pour yourself a cuppa and enjoy!

German chamomile, most commonly used for chamomile tea, can easily be grown in a container, and it’s trailing nature makes it a good choice for wall planters or window boxes. It is best suited to a sunny spot. You can buy adult plants ready to transplant straight into your chosen container from around May to July, or you can try growing chamomile from seed by sowing seeds in April.

Sow seeds outdoors directly into the final container where you want the chamomile to grow. Fill the container with compost up to an inch from the top of the container, scatter the seeds on the top of the compost, cover with a light sprinkle of compost and give the container a light sprinkling of water. After a couple of weeks, when seedlings (baby plants) have begun growing, pull out some of the seedlings so that the plants are spaced 30cm apart, giving them room to grow into adult plants.

Make sure you keep chamomile sufficiently watered, especially in hot weather. Flowers will be available to harvest from June to October. German Chamomile is an annual plant so it will die off in winter and seeds will need to be re-sown or a new plant bought the following year.

I love having chamomile in my garden – every time I go outside I can’t resist running my hands through it’s feathery leaves, which releases a gorgeous zingy apple fragrance.

German Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) growing with Poached Egg Plant (Limnanthes douglasii)

Moroccan Mint Tea

Mint tea is commonly thought to improve digestion and aid relaxation. Moroccan mint tea plays an important part in Moroccan culture and hospitality – with it being drunk throughout the day and offered to guests as a welcoming gesture.

Grow Moroccan Mint in sun or part shade and keep it well watered. Do not grow it in the same container as other plants as mint tends grow quickly and take over. If growing in the ground it is best to plant mint in a pot and sink the whole pot into the ground to stop the plant spreading. Harvest mint leaves from May to October. Mint is a perennial so it will grow back after winter.

When growing in pots it is best to re-pot mint each year in early spring, since it’s roots tend to spiral round the inside edges of a pot so that the following year the plant will have little growth in the middle of the pot. When re-potting, discard the centre of the plant and re-pot about half of the remaining roots, adding fresh compost to fill the pot.

Moroccan Mint

How to make Moroccan Mint Tea:

  1. Pick 3-4 sprigs of fresh mint from a Moroccan Mint plant.
  2. Chop up the leaves into small pieces and add with a green teabag and a teaspoon of sugar to an infuser teapot (like the one pictured). You could also infuse the tea using a small sieve resting over a mug or bowl.
  3. Pour about 300ml of just boiled water into the teapot, making sure the water level is high enough to steep the leaves and dissolve the sugar.
  4. Leave to brew for 3 minutes. Give the tea a stir to ensure the sugar is well distributed.
  5. Pour the tea into a mug, add more sugar to taste and enjoy!

Till next week, cheers!

Michelle x