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