Growing tea & tea flavorings
I grow spearmint, chocolate mint, and lavender. Has anyone experimented with growing and harvesting anything for tea. Has anyone grown chamomile for tea. If you do how much do you use and what do you mix it with? For example, would you mix chocolate mint with black tea, or rooibos and how much of each?
You can mix any herb w/ any tea or tisane you want. I like to taste the base tea (true tea, not tisane) and not just the flavoring so I like to use a 2:1 (by weight) ratio of true tea to herbal flavoring. But like anything else, it’s “in the tongue of the beholder”- every tea drinkers taste is different so I suggest you try that for just a starting point and go up or down w/ the herbal flavoring as you prefer.
Cofftea- that is an awesome place to to start, thank you sooo much. What are your favorite “base teas”?
I like all true teas- I’m not that big of a black fan (except for chais), but they do make a good base for dessert teas- chocolate, chocolate mint, caramel, etc. I’d also try chocolate mint w/ green or even white tea. One of my favorite non chai dessert teas is Adagio’s cocomint. Be careful w/ flavoring white teas though as you don’t want to over power the delicate flavor- or at least I don’t.
Hi Kate: When it comes to flavored teas (that is, flavored Camellia Sinensis leaves) – the primary source of most of the flavor is in flavored oils. However, herbs such as mint and lavender do possess a strong flavor on their own, and one can often successfully blend these herbs with tea leaves without needing flavoring oils and still achieve a very pleasing flavor.
A good black tea to start with is a Ceylon. It has a smooth, mellow flavor that is not over-aggressive when it comes to mingling with other flavors.
As far as green tea, I’ve had a lot of success with Sencha tea. Gunpowder tea also works quite nicely with herbs.
As far as white, I would go with a bai mu dan of decent quality.
If you use your herbs quite fresh, you will want to blend them with the teas as soon as possible so that you can extract the most flavor from them. One word of caution here, is that with fresh herbs there is a certain moisture factor that can be quite detrimental to tea leaves, so you want to do this in very small batches.
If you dry your herbs (which is preferable, because you won’t have as much moisture to worry about), then I would suggest “crushing” them slightly before blending them to help release some of their flavors into the tea.
Oh… and as far as ratios go… it really depends upon the strength of the herb vs. the tea that is used. With the black tea, I might go 1:1 ratio, because black is a pretty strong tea and can stand on it’s own. With green tea, I might go a 2:1 (tea:herb) but I’d experiment a little to find the ratio that works best for you. With white tea, I’d use at least a 2:1 ratio (again, tea:herb) because white tea is a bit more delicate in flavor and you don’t want to overwhelm that. If you use a Sowmee White tea (which has a stronger flavor than bai mu dan) you can experiment a little bit to find a good ratio.
What informative tips, I feel like I just got a really great education, I dont know alot about teas and mixing.. so tell me this.. I have roasted yerba mate and a rooibos, would you think spearmint or chocolate mint be a good mix with either of these? and if so a 1:1 ratio?
52teas did a chocolate roasted yerba mate- so I have no idea why a chocolate mint wouldn’t work. At least for some people since everyone likes different things. Rooibos (and yerba mate too I believe) is used a LOT for dessert drinks due to the lack of caffeine (well at least in rooibos, mate has caffeine) and mint chocolate rooibos blends are EXTREMELY popular. As for the ratio, you’ll have to see what works best for you.
Kate: as you probably already know, Roasted Yerba Mate has a very strong flavor. So as far as the ratio… I would just say experiment with it to find what works best. Rooibos flavor is not typically as strong as Yerba Mate, so you might not need as much of the mint to flavor the rooibos. Keep in mind with these (rooibos and mate) that they do not “absorb” flavors quite as well – that is to say, they aren’t as absorbent – as tea leaves are. So, you might find that you want to use a little more herbs with these because the mate leaves and rooibos needles may not absorb as much of the herbal flavor.
And then there’s my personal favorite- steeping a tisane and using that to make matcha:)
This winter I’ve found that pine makes a very good tea actually (especially a flavored matcha), but you need a LOT of pine needles.
Pine needles, that sounds very interesting, what kind of pine tree would you get the needles from and how much does it take?
Oh ya and not to sound stupid but what is a tisane?
I just used the Christmas tree- not sure what kind it was. It takes a LOT (I’d say at least 40 needles cut at least in half) steeped in 6oz boiling water for 20 min.
Kate, a tisane is any thing that is steeped and decanted that is NOT from the Camellia Sinensis plant (which makes black, white, green, oolong, yellow, and pu erh teas). Some examples are rooibos, yerba mate, herbs, and edible flowers.
My parents used to grow a ton of chamomile. My mom planted a small patch, but then it sort of took over wherever there wasn’t grass growing! We actually had a 6 ft diameter patch of chamomile where the kiddie pool had killed all of the grass! So, yeah, it’s pretty easy to grow – not sure what climate/amount of sun it prefers, though. I’m in the upper midwest, and the spot was probably almost full sun. Only use the flowers for tea (the greens might be toxic, but now I can’t find where I read that, so don’t quote me on it!).
Watch out for mint – that is another one that can take over your yard, and I think it’s a bit more “weedy” and hard to get rid of. If you’re growing in a container, it should be ok.
Another one we used to grow is lemon balm. The wikipedia article says it can be used for herbal teas, although I’ve never tried it. Other ideas – maybe some herbs, such as rosemary or sage? I really like Republic of Tea’s blackberry sage black tea.
Thanks for starting this thread – I’m curious to see what other suggestions you get! I’ve been feeling a bit lackluster about gardening this year, but maybe a container filled with herbal tea plants would be a fun project!
Rosemary and sage really interest me for teas although I haven’t tried them. The blackberry sage as you suggest VegTea, and The Tea Farm sells dried rosemary for the purpose of steeping. Then there are of course all edible flowers.
Thank you so much for the tip on chamomile, I grow spearmint, chocolate mint, lavender, oregano, sage, basil, and chives, but have never grown chamomile, I am in the Kansas City area and have purchased german chamomile from the Amish in Jamesport, Mo. and would love to grow it on my own, so thanks for the container tip I will do that and will let you know how it “grows” hee hee!
I use lemon balm that is grown locally (but not by me) for my meadow nocturne blend. It possesses a light lemony flavor (it smells more like lemon than it tastes) and is great to use in “bed time” type of blends because it helps with sleep disorders.
I do know that lemon balm or “melissa” is also used in herbal medicine to help with mood swings and depression, like St. Johns Wort. You may check out the Pheonix Herb company out of Kansas City they have some great teas for sleeping, and remedies and such.
VegTea- I am so glad you are enjoying this thread, I am as well. I hope more people chime in I love all the suggestions, they are so informative.
I have fresh mint growing in my backyard. Can I just toss a freshly picked leaf or two into my tea as it brews with good results?
Try it and let us know:)
I think it may work best if you crush it a little first, The best is to dry it then use it in the brew. It’s also awesome in iced tea, also if you have access to squirt soda its pretty yummy in that also.
I just found this website about what can be used for herbal teas: http://www.countryliving.com/cooking/about-food/herbal-teas-0906
And this about planting an herbal tea garden: http://www.countryliving.com/outdoor/garden-plans-finder/herbal-tea-garden-plan
I’m excited that wild strawberry is one of the plants listed – we have a ton of that growing in my “native plant” ( = accidental rabbit food) garden.
They are adorable, but they are a menace to gardening attempts! I can’t seem to stay mad at them, though..even when they chew my perennials down to the ground.
I’m planning to get some mint, lemon balm, and chamomile to plant tomorrow! :)
they sell bunny fence (small enough they can’t squish in) at the garden shops – it works well enough to keep our bunnies in as opposed to out
Oh dear – I went a little nuts at the farmer’s market this morning. I got the following:
Scented Geraniums – Lime and Roger’s Delight (sort of a floral scent)
But, the really great thing is that I got them all in the ground today, too! I have a bad habit of buying plants and then putting off planting them until they are half-dead.
Pineapple sage?! That sounds so good! Orange mint is AMAZING. Never heard of bee balm.
Pineapple sage is supposed to have a pineapple/melon flavor, and grow about 3 feet tall! If that happens, I will be impressed.
I guess bee balm was used as a tea substitute during the American pre-Revolutionary War tea boycott. I’m a little nervous because everywhere says that it spreads like crazy, but hopefully it will just fill out the space nicely. ;)