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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Enjoying Homemade Herbal Teas


Have you been noticing, as I have, that more and more people are focusing on ways to enjoy cooking and creating delicious alternatives to store bought goods? Not only is it fun and creative but it is more economical, great for lessening our carbon footprint, undoubtedly healthier since there is no need for preservatives or additives, and it is so much more meaningful as gifts for our family, friends and hosts who invite us over for parties. I plan on writing much more on this topic as we get closer to the holidays since I plan on making many of our gifts this year.

As the days get shorter and the days are numbered for harvesting my herb garden, I thought I would write about a fun, delicious and simple herbal tea I have enjoyed brewing and sharing with friends when they come over for dinner. It is also very appealing to me as a "comfort food" when my mind and soul needs a little extra nourishment.

We have been growing the same mint for 30 years which we acquired from a relative. It has moved with us from home to home and from state to state. Mint is very hardy. I love the flavor of our particular variety of mint. It is sweet and fragrant. It is great for many dishes, marinades, beverages and...teas.

Recently I have been enjoying cutting our mint right before a dinner party, harvesting the leaves and then tearing them a bit as I put them in our Coffee Press. I am generous with the leaves, filling the bottom of the press with a solid inch of mint leaves. Then all you need to do is pour boiling water over the leaves and let it steep for 4 - 5 minutes before pressing the leaves to the bottom with the filter..and presto!... You have a great after dinner tea that is fragrant, flavorful and great for digestion. Best off all, it is fresh from your garden and therefore, homemade, which is bound to impress your guests and make them feel very special that you took the time and effort to provide this tasty treat.

Many herbs are perfect for tea. The most popular tea herbs are chamomile, rose hips, lavender, mints, sweet fennel, orange thyme, hibiscus, lemon balm, lemon verbena, linden flowers, dandelion, St. John's wort, licorice root, ginger root, raspberry leaf and goldenrod violets.

Try mixing your favorite herbs for an herb tea blend.

Some plants should never be ingested. Know what you're growing if you're making tea from your own plants. Never make tea from herbs such as borage, calamus, chaparral, comfrey, ephedra, germander, life root, pennyroyal or sassafras. In certain strengths those herbs can cause liver damage and other organ risks.

Be extremely careful that you don't make tea using any herb plants that have been sprayed with pesticides. Always good to have good control and management of the herbs you use.

Time for my afternoon mint tea...hope you can make the time to enjoy a cup too!