Herbal Tea by Me
Every summer since moving to my first apartment, I’ve grown some kind of herbs. They started out in little pots on my tiny balcony, and have graduated to a stone herb box that my handy, thoughtful husband built in our backyard. I have some perennials in there, like a clump of chives that comes back every year with plump purple blossoms, thyme that won’t quit, and two types of lavender (did you know that Spanish lavender looks prettier but English lavender has a stronger scent?). In the spring I always put in my basil, cilantro, rosemary, and parsley, and this year I added lemon verbena. The spearmint goes crazy in its own pot, sprouting plenty of leaves for mojitos.
My herb box is right next to my patio and its sights and scents simply make me happy. When I’m cooking dinner, I’ll send one of my kids outside to pluck some leaves for a recipe. They’re learning to identify them, and I love, love, love to hear my six-year-old showing her little brothers how to chew on mint “like toofpaste” or approach "the oniony one" with caution.
This year, though, I finally got smart and decided to cut and dry some herbs before the cold weather kills off most of them. It’s the easiest thing ever. Just cut some sprigs, tie them in a bunch, and hang somewhere that’s warm and dry. I hung them from the curtain rod in my kitchen and they looked all homey and pretty. You can even just spread them out on dish towels or in a shallow box. Let them go for about a week and then crumple the dried leaves into glass jars.
Now I have a big jar of mint leaves and a smaller jar where I mixed thyme and lavender buds. And I made tea!! I don’t know why I didn’t realize before that herbal tea is just…..herbs. There’s no tea involved. I have a little metal mesh ball that opens (someone gave it to me years ago for loose tea but I never really used it), I fill it with my dried herbs and voila! Homegrown, organic, ...ahem...expertly blended... tea! Ok maybe not expertly done. But I am pumped to experiment blending different types of herbs, flowers, spices, etc. You know you’re getting old when something like this excites you, but don’t knock it till you’ve tried it! It’s so cool knowing that the herbs came from my yard and I created for myself something that I've bought all my life.
Next I’m going to cut the lemon verbena before it gets too chilly and all winter long I’ll be able to breathe in summer sunshine over a steamy mug. Making tea is one more ancient skill that I’m just discovering, and I’m loving it. I’m thinking now that I know the ropes I’ll grow more herbs next year and plan on gifting little ribbon-tied jars to the tea drinkers in my life. Sweet sipping from me to you.