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  • Taylor Logsdon

Grow Your Own Herbal Tea!


Many an evening I enjoy going out my front door to fill a tea pot with herbs from my garden. It’s a simple way to nourish my body and keep me feeling connected to my landscape. If you are a tea drinker (and by “tea” I mean herbal infusions) there is no reason why you can’t grow your own tea right outside your door! Many herbal teas are easy to grow and bring beauty and pollinators to your garden.

Here are my top six herbal teas I like to cultivate for their ease of growth, taste and medicinal value:



Mint

(Mentha)

Peppermint, spearmint, pineapple mint, chocolate mint. There are so many mints and even more herbs that belong in the mint family- identified by there square stems, opposite leaves and aromatic smell.

All the varieties of mints do have subtle differences so it’s worth sampling a handful before you decide which to add to your garden. Mint is a prolific grower that spreads through its runners. It makes a great tea, full of essential oil, that calms the nervous system and aids in digestion.





Lemon Balm

(Melissa officinalis)

Also called Melissa- which means bee in Greek, it can in fact attract bees by containing several of the same chemicals found in bee pheromones. This member of the mint family is quite similar to mint but has a lemony scent and flavor. Once you've got it in your garden you may find it naturalizes in untended corners of your yard. Like mint it is calming and aids in digestion.





Bee Balm

(Monarda didyma)

As it’s name implies the bees love this one! Hummingbirds and hummingbird moths do too! Bee balm is a native herb in the mint family that spreads via runners and puts out an abundance of showy flowers in the summer. It also goes by the name of Bergamot and is used to flavor Earl Grey tea.







Bronze Fennel

(Foeniculum vulgare)

Fennel is in the same plant family as carrots and dill but has a licorice like taste. I grow bronze fennel for it's beautiful color. Beneficial wasps that keep garden pests in check are attracted to the flowers. It is a host plant for the black swallowtail butterfly and you may see a few of its caterpillars on your plants. The seeds of fennel are used in cooking and baking.







Anise Hyssop

(Agastache foeniculum)

This member of the mint family is neither anise or hyssop though it does have similarities in taste. It flowers in the summer with columns of lavender colored flowers. It can spread prolifically via its seed where there is open ground. It gives a sweet, licorice taste to tea.






Tulsi, Holy Basil

(Ocimum sanctum)

One only needs to take a deep inhale of the tulsi plant to know why it is called holy basil- divine indeed! Tulsi is a sacred plant in hinduism and one of the most revered herbs in Ayurveda. It is related to culinary basil, both of which are in the mint family. In our region, I have had the most success growing the variety "kapoor" which can be grown just like basil. It is an annual that will likely reseed itself and continue to come up in your garden.









A Few Tips For Your Herbal Tea Garden:


-Give lots of space for herbs that spread via their runners like mint and bee balm. Pull them out if they exceed their desired limits.


-Plant your tea garden close to your house so your sure to frequent it often.

-As an alternative to a separate tea garden, try planting your tea herbs around fruit and nut trees. They will help bring beneficial insects to your trees and bring diversity and beauty to your orchard or food forest.


Cheers!


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