We have all seen the colorful boxes of assorted teas in the grocery store. Some of the labels claim to be caffeine-free, herb tea, high in catechins or 100 percent organic tea. Essentially, unless you grow the herbs yourself, you really don’t know what’s in the teas.
Herb tea is described as a tea not made from any part of the traditional tea bush (Camellia sinensis). It should be organic, as opposed to being made of synthetic compounds. It can be made from caffeine-rich plants like the Yaupon holly (Ilex vomitoria) or the Yerba-maté (Ilex paraguariensis).
Your tea can also be made from herbs that are caffeine-free and have a soothing or sedative-like effect. Examples of these are chamomile (Matricaria recutita), skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora), valerian (Valeriana officinalis) and woodruff (Galium odoratum).
To make herb tea you must first start with your base ingredients. Citrus (Citrus sp.) or mints (Mentha sp.) are popular beginning herbs with me. I usually keep dried satsuma, Meyer lemon, Bergamot orange and lime peels in my refrigerator for this purpose.
Add other herbs or spices to your base to make the tea with the desired effect.
Here are a couple of recipes I use.
Herb’s Sleepy Tea: 1 tsp dried spearmint (Mentha spicata), 1 tsp dried chamomile flowers, ½ tsp valerian, ½ tsp fresh tender stevia (Stevia rebaudiana) or 1/16 tsp stevia powder. Place ingredients into a tea ball and steep in 10 ounces of hot (160°) water for seven minutes.
Herb’s Spicy Eye-Opener: Parch 50-60 Yaupon leaves in toaster oven or in pan on stove top, then crush. Add 1 tsp dried lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus). Place in tea ball and boil for 1 minute or place in muslin tea sock and microwave for 2 minutes on high in 12 ounces of water. Place ½ short cinnamon stick and one square-inch of dried Satsuma peel into tea and steep for about five minutes. You can then either sweeten your tea with stevia, sugarcane spear or honey, or drink it unsweetened as I do.
A few other herb tea ingredients I keep on hand are ginger, dandelion, dill, raspberry leaves, garden sage, rosemary, rose hips, yarrow and fennel. Tea mints include monarda, peppermint, lemon balm, thyme, pineapple mint and catnip.
I make herbal teas and drink them at particular times of the day as a personal ritual. It isn’t so much the drink as it is the moment. I use the teas, in preparation, to experiment with the collected ingredients for flavor and effect; to drink during a moment of quiet meditation, taking notice of the wonderment of nature and all it provides.
Experiment with your own ingredients to come up with your own pleasing recipes. Please share them with me too. I’d like to know what you’re drinking.
E-mail me if you have any questions about herb teas and where to buy the herbs.
Thanks for reading!