As the sun warms the soil and the crocuses burst forth with a flash of color, gardeners are planning their spring planting. It’s a great time to consider adding plants that will enhance your tea drinking habit.
If you like flowers, consider bee balm with its bold, spiky red flowers. This plant adds citrus and spice notes to your cup. Rose is another good choice with a wide range of flower colors. The rose hips, which are the seed cases, and petals can both be steeped. Chamomile yields small white flowers with bright yellow centers. German chamomile, which is an annual, offers a sweeter cup. Roman and English chamomile are perennials. If purple is your favorite, lavender’s clusters of violet blooms atop silvery stalks are both fragrant and beautiful.
The breadth of plants available allow growers to customize the plantings to their tastes. Is lemon a favorite flavor? Add lemon balm or lemon verbena to your garden. Anise hyssop and fennel yield licorice-flavored brews. The fast spreading mint comes in many varieties that add interest to the cup. Spearmint, peppermint, chocolate mint, apple mint and orange mint are particularly appealing.
These plants offer a wide variety of textures and color that can create a beautiful respite as well as a functional collection of ingredients.
More savory, rich tastes can add depth to a blend. Consider thyme, basil, coriander and sage in combination with other herbs.
Herbs can be steeped fresh or dried. Try mixing and matching flavors for a unique blend.
For more tips, see “Homegrown Teas” by the Department of Plant and Soil Science at the University of Vermont Extension.