Clockwise from top left: Borage, Chamomile, Lavender, Calendula
After a very loooong winter, I'm beyond excited to be able to walk out to my backyard, pick a handful of lemon balm leaves, and brew myself a fresh cup of tea. Technically, a brew of herbs or flowers is called a tisane, as opposed to tea, as it does not contain the tea plant Camellia sinensis that make up our familiar black & green teas. You say tea, I say tisane, at the end of the day it's just a delicious cup of herbal healing, right? ;-)
While dried herbs are what many of us are familiar with for making tea, fresh herbs have an entirely different flavor and vibrancy that is such a treat in the summertime! In general, 5-6 fresh leaves covered with nearly-boiled water, steeped for 5-15 minutes, makes a perfect cup. Be sure to cover your cup or pot while steeping: the oils from the plant, which contain the healing benefits, are lost if they evaporate. If you're making an iced tea, you can increase your amount of plant matter a little to balance the increased water from the ice.
Peppermint and lemon balm are familiar and delicious go-to herbs for fresh teas, but don't stop there! What other herbs are you growing in your garden? Try rosemary, lavender, chamomile, or raspberry leaf, or take the blossoms from your calendula or borage for a delicious and beautiful tea. Holy Basil in particular is divine as a fresh tea. In fact, I prefer holy basil fresh: it has such a different flavor than dried! If you're growing this plant, pick a handful of leaves in the morning, wash and bruise them gently with your fingers, and throw them in your water bottle. This beautiful, adaptogenic plant will increase your Happy & Bright throughout your day!
I've gathered a few summer tea recipes to whet your appetite! These links also include some great tips & tricks about tea-making. Go forth and get a taste of sunshine :-)
Relaxation Tea from Northwest Edible Life
- A base of 50% chamomile flowers, 25% spearmint and 25% lemon verbena
- Stevia to sweeten and a small pinch of dried hop blossoms (optional)
Bliss Blend from Worts & Cunning Apothecary
- 2 parts Lavender (Lavandula officinalis)
- 2 parts Sacred Basil (Ocimum sanctum or tenuiflorum)
- 1 part Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora)
Lemon verbena, turmeric, ginger and lemon peel tea from Edible Manhattan
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon verbena leaves
- 1 inch fresh turmeric knob (find it at Whole Foods, or at specialty Indian or Asian food stores)
- 1 inch fresh ginger knob
- 2 strips lemon rind
- 1 cup water
In a small sauce pan, heat the water to almost a boil and turn off the heat. Add fresh lemon verbena leaves, fresh turmeric knob, fresh ginger knob and lemon rind strips to the pot; bruise herbs with a long spoon by pressing the spoon into the herbs against the side of the pot. Place lid on pot and steep for 10 minutes. Strain tea into a cup.
Peaches and Mint Iced Tea from The Hearty Soul
- One tablespoon of mint leaves (20-25 fresh mint leaves)
- Two cups of fresh pureed peaches
- Four cups of water
Steep both the peaches and the mint in the water, but steep the mint alone for three minutes before you add the peaches to the mixture. This is an energizing tea that is perfect for entertaining.
Taste the Sunshine Fresh Flower Herbal Tea from The Hip Homestead
- 3 Calendula blossoms
- 5 Lavender blossoms
- 7-10 Borage blossoms
- 1 Daylily blossom
- 3 Pansy blossoms
- 4 cups boiling water
Before you head out to the garden, boil your 4 cups of fresh filtered water. Once the water has boiled, remove it from the heat and head out to the garden. This will allow the water to cool slightly, I find the flowers hold their colour and shape better with hot but not boiling water.
Head out to the garden and harvest your blooms. I like to inspect them just make sure they are fresh and healthy, and they aren’t showing any signs of disease. I also like to make sure they aren’t home to any little creatures.
I used a large 2 litre vintage Mason jar for my tea, but just because it looks pretty and holds a lot of water, but feel free to use your usual teapot.
Place your fresh blooms in the pot and pour over hot water until blooms are covered. Stir with a wooden spoon and steep for 7-10 minutes. Strain and serve hot or cold over ice.