Those bright and colorful blooms in your summer garden are more than just pretty faces, they simmer up into delicious teas too. Herbal teas have numerous medicinal properties — everything from lowering your blood pressure to enhancing your mood. Best of all, you can grow them yourself, organically, then harvest, dry and store them for use all year round. Here are some herbs and tips for growing your own herbal teas.
Hibiscus brews up into a sweet, aromatic tea. Use the calyx, or outer portion of the bloom, to make this drink that’s packed with Vitamin C and necessary antioxidants. Harvest them about 10 days after they first appear and brew them up fresh or dry them for later.
Hibiscus tea is rumored to have many health benefits:
It may help lower blood pressure and high cholesterol.
It helps your digestion.
It may even be instrumental in helping curing liver disease and preventing cancer.
Monarda also called bergamot or bee balm, is the main ingredient in Oswego Tea. The Oswego Indians used this flower for tea as early at the 1700s, hence the name. It grows prolifically once planted, and has a tendency to spread throughout your garden. The strong aroma is attractive to bees, however, so plant it away from doors and favorite gathering spots. Monarda comes in many varieties that run the gamut of colors from scarlet to lavender to white.
To make Oswego Tea, simply harvest and wash the whole bloom, drop it into your tea cup and pour boiling water over top.
Oswego tea is used in the following ways:
to help ease the symptoms of PMS in women,
to ease gas pain, and
to lessen fluid retention.
You may have chamomile already growing wild in your garden or along the rural roadside that runs past your home. Wild chamomile resembles tiny daisies. It typically blooms from late spring right up until October. Both the bloom and the leaves of the chamomile plant are edible. The bloom, itself, lends a slight taste of apple to your tea.
Chamomile tea is used to ease a number of uncomfortable conditions:
cold symptoms, and
Good for soothing stomach ailments, nausea, headaches, congestion and more, peppermint is a leafy green herb that sprouts lavender-colored spikes as blooms. Different from other edible plants, the leaves are the business end of peppermint. Harvest and dry them, and drop a teaspoon full into your tea cup to top with boiling water. Even the steam generated from peppermint tea is soothing — helping to aid in clearing congested airways. Peppermint has other healing uses as well:
relief from the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome,
as an expectorant, and
applied topically to help alleviate headaches, hives, and poison ivy and oak.
When growing these plants to use in teas and for other medicinal purposes, keep in mind that they all have properties that can interact poorly with prescription medicines. Never use them on infants or children without the express consent of a pediatrician, and check with your doctor before using them yourself. Never harvest plants for tea that have been treated with toxic pesticides, and be certain you know exactly what your plants are before you ingest them.
Exercising a little caution when brewing up herbal teas, and growing them organically will net you an abundance of valuable home remedies to cure almost anything that ails you. So go have a sip of tea today.