NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

PortWatch

January 29, 2014

Hot stuff: Grow tea in your garden

(Continued)

If you’ve already got those growing, take a stab at other popular tea ingredients like coriander, lemon balm, rose hips, hibiscus and jasmine.

Keep the plants in an area that gets at least six hours of sunlight each day, rotate them often and monitor moisture per directions on the seed packet.

Harvesting/drying

Each plant is unique when it comes to harvesting.

The flower tops are the most medicinal part of the rosemary plant, for example, so be sure to clip those off along with the leaves for tea, Liversidge says.

Fennel is valued for its seeds, and those must be shaken out from the flowers once they turn brown. Snip flowers like chamomile at the base of their stems, not the top, so you can use the stems, leaves and petals in your brew, according to Liversidge.

Many herbs can be used fresh, but drying them is a good way to keep your tea cupboard stocked through the winter.

Tie them up and hang them in bundles to dry, or spread them out on a flat surface in the sun. A dehydrator or an oven at a temperature of 212 degrees or lower can also be used.

“With my lemongrass, I cut it and freeze it to keep the nutrients locked in,” Tang says.

No matter the method, be sure to store your tea ingredients in airtight containers.

Brewing

There are a few ways to brew your homemade tea, depending on the ingredients and personal preference.

Hershey, Pa.-based writer and photographer Amy Renea prefers to “chop off big hunks” of fresh mint, lemon balm, chamomile and sometimes stevia from her tea garden and put them right in the teakettle.

Once it’s reached boiling, pull the kettle off the heat and let it sit for a few minutes before pouring into your favorite teacup.

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