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Herbal Tea Garden

Try these ‘tea’ combos with a touch of honey if you like, but deliciously refreshing without.

November 29, 2016

Herbal Tea Garden

So many common garden plants can easily be steeped in hot water to make the most wonderful tasting, health-giving, refreshing tea.

I first experienced this phenomenon when Longrain in Melbourne first opened in 2006. The kitchen was headed by the fabulous Martin Boetz. After one of the most glorious, unbelievably delicious meals I have ever eaten we were served fresh lemongrass tea. It was a perfect way to conclude an outstanding experience.

Agrarian Herb Garden

There is a very important trick to making a good herbal tea – use hot water NOT boiling. Allow the kettle to cool for 5 minutes after it has boiled. I learnt this when developing a granita for classes when fresh mint seemed to be the essential ingredient. I made simple sugar syrup, then as it was simmering, dropped in a big handful of mint. The temperature was too much for this soft leaf herb and the whole complexity of flavours altered and stripped the freshness from this freshest of herbs.

When making mint tea in our Mystique of Morocco class adding tea leaves seems to render the mint flavour acceptable. Adding other plants such as rose geranium (I’m now growing for just this purpose) and lemon verbena lend more complexity and make it truly delicious.

Staff at The Agrarian Kitchen  in Tasmania (pictured left) have over the years, nurtured a herbal tea garden into maturity.

Now of course, these herbs can be cooked with as well, but steeping tea is a sensible additional use for the quick-growing, softer herbs, who like being picked often. Many different mints are thriving here, tasting one after the other was a great lesson in the subtleness (or not so) of the minty flavours. Spearmint, apple mint and peppermint are the 3 that I would advise to plant. Beware though, they can overtake a garden bed, so if your space is limited plant in a pot!

Pick herbs as needing to use fresh for the simplest way to make tea. Or dry stems or flowers in shallow layers on a tray in a warm airy place. Turn a couple of times a day. After 4 to 8 days (depending on the weather) once dry,  strip leaves and store in snap lock bag omitting as much air as possible. Store in a dark cool place. But not for long, herbs will lose flavour and aroma over time.

Only use flowers and leaves from a known source. Drinking tisanes that have had been sprayed is not such a healthy option.

So try infusing these few combos or individual herbs. Allow to steep in the hot water for a few minutes before drinking. Length of time is dependent on strength of tea you prefer. Serve with a touch of honey if you like, but deliciously refreshing without…

  • Lime Leaf (regular Tahitian lime or Kaffir lime) Lemon Verbena and Lemon Balm.
  • Mint, Rose Geranium and Lemon Verbena.
  • Lemongrass (pound the white portion of stalk before steeping)
  • German Camomile Daisy (just to give you an idea of amounts – 1Tbsp dried flowers or 2 Tbsp fresh flowers for each 250ml water)
  • Thyme and Rosemary.

During the hotter months, allow these teas to cool and serve as refreshing iced version. Enjoy.

Mint Tea

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Tracey Cotterell

Tracey Cotterell
FOUNDER, MANAGING DIRECTOR AND TEACHER
Tracey Cotterell

TECH DIP HOTEL CATERING AND INSTITUTIONAL MANAGEMENT

Tracey has been in the food industry since completing her Diploma in Hotel, Catering and Institutional Management in 1982 in the UK. She worked for an outside catering company in London, then joined her parents in rural West Sussex running

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Tracey Cotterell

Tracey Cotterell

FOUNDER, MANAGING DIRECTOR AND TEACHER


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