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Basil For Beginners


Herbs For Flavor
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Herbs The Friendly Plants

Home Made Herbal Teas

 

Home Made Herbal Teas

Herbal teas are easy to make, carry many health benefits, and can add greatly to the variety of your hot and cold drinks. They make an attractive, healthful and elegant alternative to offer your friends instead of regular tea or coffee. Herbal teas, packed into tea bags, can be bought at most supermarkets, but they are often quite expensive. In addition, store-bought teas simply don’t have as many vitamins, minerals, and valuable oils as fresh herbs. It’s much cheaper, more beneficial, and surprisingly easy to make your own from the herbs in your garden.

Into the Wild
Don’t forget that herbs grow wild almost everywhere in the world. You may be able to gather wild herbs from the fields and hedgerows to make your teas. If you decide to do this, please be very careful to identify the plants that you gather correctly. Some plants are poisonous. Also, some parts of a plant may be edible whilst other parts are not. If you are not sure, ask someone who can tell you what you’ve collected. In any case, if you are pregnant or have a medical condition, you should check with your doctor before using any herbal preparations. Some herbs that are easy to find growing wild are chickweed, dandelions (leaves and flowers), fireweed leaves, goldenrod, heather flowers, meadowsweet (leaves and flowers), red clover (leaves and flowers), and stinging nettle leaves (wear gloves and long sleeves).

Gathering from the Garden
Perhaps you or some of your friends grow berries - blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries or blackcurrants. Imagine their surprise when you ask them, not for berries but for some of the leaves! The leaves of all these plants make great herbal teas. You may have some trees on your property as well. Look for birch, rowan or mountain ash, young spruce tips and pine needles. Next, raid the flowerbeds! Many flowers are edible, and they give a fragrant touch to herbal teas - especially iced ones. Seek out carnations, gardenia, hibiscus, honeysuckle flowers, jasmine lavender, lemon blossoms, onion blossoms, orange blossoms, pansies, roses, and violets. They are all good to use in herbal teas.

You can use dried or fresh herbs to make your tea. You will, no doubt, want to learn how to harvest and dry your own herbs so that you can continue to enjoy your teas throughout the winter months. Dried herbs, as always, should be kept in an airtight container. Tea is most often made from the leaves, and sometimes the flowers of the herb. Use only the leaves unless instructed otherwise. Be sure to wash and dry fresh herbs carefully before using them for tea.

Many herbs can be made into delicious teas (more properly called infusions). Some are soothing, some relaxing, and others refreshing or invigorating. They can be served hot, to warm you up in the winter or chilled and poured over ice to cool you down in the summer. Some herbal teas can be taken regularly for their health benefits; others are a convenient (and generally pleasant) way to deliver medication for an acute condition. Some are intended to be taken as needed for a tonic or to calm the nerves, and some are just downright good to drink.

Some people like to take a cup of herbal tea at mealtimes to help with digestion. Most herbal teas are very pleasant to drink. Here is the basic recipe for average strength tea:

For each teacupful you will need
1 teaspoon of dried herb or 1 tablespoon of fresh herbs (crushed leaves or flowers)
1 cup of boiling water
Put the herbs into a teapot or individual cups and pour on the boiling water. Cover and leave to stand for five to ten minutes, then strain and serve. Don’t leave the tea too long before straining - over steeping can ruin the delicate flavour. If you want your tea to be stronger, it’s best to add more herbs right at the start.
For iced tea proceed as above, and cover the strained tea and leave to cool in a refrigerator.

There are exceptions to this general rule, as different methods bring out the best in different herbs. Teas can also be made from seeds or roots, but this requires a different method. Herbal teas can be sweetened with a spoonful of honey or a little sugar if necessary, but most are not really bitter.

Here is a selection of herbal teas:
Alecost leaves are excellent in teas. They have a refreshing balsamic, lemon -mint scent.
Angelicaleaves (usually dried) are widely used for herb teas.
Aniseed tea sweetened with honey makes a pleasant nightcap. The strong liquorice flavour, has been used to disguise unpleasant medicinal tastes and some people dislike it because of this association.
Bergamot Tea Use leaves and/or flowers. Infuse as above, or, for more flavour, simmer leaves gently for ten minutes in an enamel pan. It is a very attractive, clear dark red colour. Put a fresh leaf into China tea for an Earl Grey flavour.
Birch leaf tea is a diuretic
Calendula tea is a pleasant drink made from the petals only Add a little lemon juice to bring out the flavour, and sweeten with honey.
Catnip leaves have a sharp, balsamic taste
Chamomile Tea is made from the flowers only. Steep no more than 3 -4 minutes. It’s very delicately flavoured.
Dandelion leaf tea is good for the digestion and a great detoxifier.
Elderflower tea (hot) makes a soothing night-cap. Serve it iced for a deliciously refreshing simmer drink.
Gingerroot tea brings warmth on cold days
Heather flower tea is aromatic and attractive and has a calming effect
Hop tea is made from the female hop cones and taken warm. Use two teaspoons per cup of boiling water and strain after three to four minutes.
Juniper berry tea is made from fresh or dried crushed berries to stimulate the appetite. Use 12 to 15 crushed berries to a cup of boiling water. Allow to stand for about 10 minutes, then strain. Add honey and serve.
Lemon balm (or melissa tea) made from the leaves is very refreshing and has a lemon flavour. Lime (linden) flower tea is a delicately flavoured drink. The flowers should only steep for three to four minutes.
Lovage tea has a savoury taste, like a yeast extract broth with celery. Add a little sea salt.
Pine needle tea is good for bronchitis.
Red clover tea is pleasantly flavoured and attractively coloured.
Spruce Tea made from the young tips is strongly flavoured and good for a sore throat.
Sweet marjoram leaves makes an aromatic tea. It was advised by the herbalist Gerard for those who "are given to overmuch sighing.”
Meadowsweet flowers have a sweet almond fragrance, which improves with age
Mint tea (made with spearmint) is still offered to guests as a mark of hospitality in North African countries.
Peppermint tea is attractive, has an excellent flavour and is a good 'pick-me-up'. Use whole, slightly crushed leaves for a subtle taste. Iced Peppermint Tea is wonderfully cooling.
Sage flowers produce a light, balsamic tea.
Thyme tea is made from sprigs complete with stems, leaves and flowers. Infuse for about eight to ten minutes.
Wild strawberry leaves add "bite" to teas. They contain tannins and are rich in vitamin C.
Verbascum tea, for persistent coughs, is made with the yellow flowers. Use three to four flower heads per cup of boiling water and steep for seven to ten minutes until the tea is bright yellow. Strain carefully through fine muslin to remove any pollen, which may aggravate the cough.
Woodruff Leaf tea is made with hot, not boiling water. Leave to stand for up to 1 hr before using. Strain and heat again or drink cold with a slice of lemon and a little honey. Either way, it is a stimulating drink at any time.

Other Herbs for Teas
Basil, chives, lemon grass, lemon verbena, myrtle, oregano, parsley, plantain, rosemary and scented geranium all make excellent teas.

Creativity is the keyword when making herbal tea. Add some variety with interesting spices and flavourings - orange peel, cinnamon, ginger, lemon, honey, cloves, or fennel, are just a few ideas. Try using some edible flower petals as a decorative touch. It won’t be long before you are designing blends for different, delicious and healthy drinks. No go put on the kettle!


By Sylvia Richards 16th August 2009

This site is being updated often with new information to share all the time.
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NOTE: The writer is not a medical professional. The information in this article and on the Spiritual Haven web site is NOT medical advice. Consult a trained doctor or herbalist before attempting any treatment. We are not responsible for any misuse of information posted on this site.

 

 

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