When life gives you mint and lavender ... brew tea.
As tea lovers, you guys know that herbal tea isn't technically "tea", right? (For those of you who don't, a quick explanation: Tea leaves are actually all from the same plant, which is called Camellia sinensis, and grows in very specific climates. Those leaves are plucked and then prepared in different ways to create black, green and white teas. Any other kind of "tea" comes from other plants, and is therefore referred to as herbal tea, or infusions.) But we still refer to infusions of leaves from plants like mint, hibiscus, herbs, and anything else that tastes great as "tea", and the best news is, you can grow your own!
Since it's summertime and our greenish thumbs are still happily digging in our gardens (though not for long -- the growing season here in the Colorado mountains is super short), we got to thinking, "What would we recommend planting for an easy garden of good herbal tea ingredients?" This is a loaded question, because it really depends on the climate where you live, but here are a few suggestions that are almost foolproof:
Mint, any kind of it: Mint grows like a weed, and there's nothing easier than plucking some mint leaves and steeping a bunch of them in hot water. Plus, once you've got some fresh mint you'll be adding it to every tea concoction you whip up ... not to mention cocktails.
Lavender: Looks and smells gorgeous in the garden, but sounds a little strange in the cup? Nah - some of you are addicted to our loose Lavender Earl Grey. This pretty pale violet flower known for its relaxing qualities brews up gorgeously, and you can add it to just about any other cup of tea for added scent.
Anise-Hyssop: This one is like a warm cuppa' licorice when brewed, and a bonus is that the flowers may attract butterflies and hummingbirds!
Chamomile: Our Organic Chamomile grows in Egypt, but you can try this one yourself, too. It's an annual, so you'll have to plant it every year, but these little flowers look like tiny daisies, and can help with insomnia.
Rose hips: You can't snip your roses for bouquets if you want rose hips to form, but once you pick the rose hips, crush and brew them and you'll get a tart infusion that's got lots of Vitamin C! And don't forget to strain the liquid before drinking, because those hips have little seeds and hairs inside.
Lemon balm: Nothing says summer like a tea brewed from lemon balm, but it's in the same family as mint, so it'll spread fast unless you work hard to contain it.
What are you guys growing out there that you've turned into tea? We're always open to suggestions!