Make Herbal Tea Without a Recipe
Do you find yourself wandering aimlessly through the over packed tea shelves at your local market? Stop buying commercial tea blends just to try them. You can easily build your own herbal tea blend at home.
It feels like the right thing to do, grabbing a new box of tea whenever you’re at the grocery store — antioxidants! hydration! disease-fighting! That is, until you try to shove it into your tea drawer, which is filled to the brim with boxes, jars, and questionably dated tins. A tea drawer can quickly start to resemble a junk drawer with all the partially used boxes of tea and the dated tins of teas that were tried and forgotten.
Investing in a box of tea commits you to its style for a very long time — you might even buy a different flavor before you’ve used it all. If you like to mix it up more often, here’s our advice: Make these cookies with your boxed tea and start from scratch on your own blends. With just a few loose guidelines and some herbs, you’ll produce something more delicious and, better yet, it’ll be your own custom blend.
There’s a certain mystical quality to the art of blending tea. It’s esoteric, a bit hippie, and a lot exotic. You’ll be able to convince your friends you’ve just returned, enlightened, from a trip of self-discovery. Even if it was just to your garden and back. Mixing your won blends by trying new combinations can be very rewarding. Don’t be afraid of making something that you will not like. Be sure to write down the items that you use in each blend and the resulting taste and any beneficial or negative effects. In a very short time you will have your own recipe book of new and exciting blends that you can make anytime that you want them and share with your friends.
It’s not a dream or even a challenge — you’re just five steps away.
1. Choose your base (or don’t).
Beginning with a teaspoon of simple black, green, white, or oolong tea is a great way to dive into creating your own herbal concoction. Choose a caffeinated tea if you’d like a little pick-me-up in your mug.
If you aren’t looking for a kick in the pants, then all-herb is the way to go. These herbs (fresh or dried) can often be found at your local farmers market, co-op, or specialty food store. Good ones to build around or combine are:
- lemon verbena
- anise hyssop
- holy basil (tulsi)
- apple mint
- bee balm (monarda)
- lemon balm
- pineapple sage
- rose hips
Remember, this is just a guide, and experimenting with (edible) herbs is encouraged.
2. Decide on fresh or dried herbs, and pick your superstars.
The best part about making your own blends is that you can adjust each to your moods and needs using fresh herbs, dried herbs, or a mix of both. Keep in mind that a good guide for portioning is 2 teaspoons of fresh herbs to every 6 ounces of boiling water. You could try combining 1 teaspoon of tea and 1 teaspoon of fresh herbs, or if you want to top off tea with just a few leaves or even non-herbal ingredients — that works too. You can even toast some chicory or barley to give your tea some nuttiness.
Photo by Mark Weinberg
If you are looking to dry some sprigs before you brew, here’s our primer on the four best ways to approach it effectively.
For relaxation: Blend equal parts holy basil, chamomile, lemon balm, and lavender. This mix also works well when combined with a 1/4 teaspoon of white tea.
To soothe an illness: Mix equal parts peppermint, rosemary, thyme, and lemon verbena. Add a 1/4 teaspoon of green tea and see your sickness to the door.
Dial in your focus: Combine a 1/2 teaspoon of both ginkgo and St. John’s wort with a teaspoon of goji berries and a sprinkle of licorice.
Flying solo: Use two teaspoons of your favorite fresh herb — such as lemon verbena, mint, or chamomile — to make a single-herb tea.
There are endless combinations — it’s all in what you like. Try out any tea that you adore with additional fresh or dried herbs.
More: Start your seeds for fresh-herb tea all year — no garden required.
3. Wrap your wares.
Now that you have your tea, here’s how to pack it up. Add a couple of teaspoons to a sachet (more if you like it stronger) or keep it in jar to measure out later. Remember that if you’re using fresh herbs, your blend is best used that day but you can store your dry blends in airtight containers for more cups of goodness down the road (just don’t forget about them at the back of the drawer).
4. Measure out your tea and add boiling water.
Fresh herbal teas can steep a little longer than your regular Earl Grey — somewhere between 5 to 10 minutes. If your herbs are dry, it’s probably best to stay on the shorter side, 3 to 5 minutes. If you’re going Dutch on a tea and herbs, fresh or dried, follow the tea instructions and taste — and if you want it stronger, you know what to do.
5. Dress it up or cool it down.
Once you’ve brewed your perfect cup, drop in a dollop of honey or stir a little steamed milk into black- or yerba-based blends — you won’t regret it.
Cool down: For iced tea, add your tea to several cups of cold water over ice, grab some tumblers, and if it moves you, some crumpets. Garnish your glass with extra herbs and a citrus wheel and it’s like you were never, ever chilled over the past few months.
What would your dream herbal tea blend be?
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