Herbal teabags are a common sight these days, but I don’t think there is anything to beat using fresh ingredients from your garden every time you stretch out for a invigorating brew, says Valerie McBride-Munro
Fresh plants come loaded with vitamins, antioxidants, essential oils and other numerous compounds that boost our health. A fresh tea made from edible fresh herbs captures between 50 and 90 percent of the effective ingredients of the plant – but please note the word ‘edible’. And do make sure that you’re samples have not been sprayed with any insecticide, and are free from other noxious substances such as diesel or petrol fumes and cat pee!
You merely put a large handful of the chosen plant material into a big pot and pour over some boiling water. Let them steep for a few minute, and if you drain the pot quickly, then it’s OK to refill the pot with more boiling water for a second infusion.
Maybe you’ve never thought of using lavender to make tea, but its floral taste is amazing. A lavender brew using the flowers is sweet and fragrant, and is perfect for calming your mind, reducing tension and alleviating a headache. Your supply should be virtually unlimited as lavender is easy to grow in any sunny well-drained part of the garden.
Thyme might be a surprising addition to the list of suitables, but it’s effective ingredient is supposed to calm stomach problems and sore throat. Use its leaves to prepare tea, and if there are flowers available then add them too.
Thyme grows well in full sun but also tolerate partial sun, so it’s an low maintenance ideal herb.
Ginger tea is useful as an antioxidant and contains antibacterial properties, and is often recommended to combat nausea. You’ll need a piece about the size of an ice cube chopped up or grated. If you are using a teapot, pop in the ginger teapot and pour boiling water in it. Let it steep for about 10 minutes. Sweeten if needed with honey.
To grow your own ginger, you start with a piece of fresh root ginger (actually the rhizome of the plant), which you can buy at any supermarket. Choose a piece which has some well-developed ‘growth buds’. Break the root into pieces with a growth bud on each piece, and plant in a seed tray with moist potting compost. Keep the seed tray indoors, because most ginger is not winter hardy. On the other hand, central heating can make the air a little too dry, so it’s a good idea to spray the plants with a mister once in a while.
Valerie McBride-Munro is a local chartered horticulturist