Growing your own herbal teas is a great way to enjoy a variety of delightful flavors while shopping in your backyard. Try the following on their own, or mix and match to create your own blends. All of these teas can be dried for storage. The herbs can also be brewed fresh. A rule of thumb is to use one teaspoon dried tea per cup of tea. If using fresh herbs, double the amount of herbs per cup.
The mint family is a large one and includes peppermint, spearmint, pineapple mint, and lemon mint, to name but a few. Besides their value as a tea plant, they can be used as an herb or garnish in cooking. Mints can be invasive, so it is generally advisable to plant them in pots. Mints can also be grown indoors for year round enjoyment.
Rose hips are the fruit of the rose plant. Rose hips can be harvested from fall to early winter. If the fruit is harvested after the first frost, the fruit may be a little squishy. This is not a problem and actually improves the subtly tart flavor. Do make sure to pick only unblemished hips with no insect damage. Dry the fruits using a dehydrator or oven at a low temperature. You can use whole rose hips to make tea. If you would like to increase yield, run the dried hips through a food processor. Then sieve out the little hairs to prevent throat irritation.
Raspberry leaves are best harvested in the spring when the leaves are especially tender and there is lots of new growth. The flavor of raspberry leaf tea is subtly earthy and somewhat similar to a light black tea. My favorite way to enjoy this tea is with rose hip syrup.
This is quite possibly my favorite herb. It has the most wonderful lemon fragrance. Since it is not hardy in Idaho, I grow it in a pot. It moves inside before the first hard frost and back outside sometime in May. Lemon verbena is a vigorous grower whose growth is stimulated by trimming. So, don’t be shy about harvesting it!
No need to cultivate this one, most people have an abundance of under-appreciated dandelions growing in their backyard! Just make sure to harvest roots that have not been sprayed with chemicals. For more details see my post on harvesting and roasting dandelion roots.