Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Herb Teas in the August Chill?

That's right. I said August CHILL! Now entering our third day of rain, the temperatures are so low that yesterday broke an all time record. How this will effect the garden is beyond me, and there will undoubtedly be some surprises.
Last night there was a moment when I almost flipped on the heat, but opted for heavier clothing instead.
Sitting here in my fuzzy slippers,it seems like a little talk about hot beverages might be in order.
One of the questions we see most often on the list is about infusing herbs for tea (or various other herbal applications). When it comes to making a beverage, people over-think it. Way back in childhood, I remember finding mint tea and using it to brew up a drink. Many neighbors grew it, and it was easy to find wild in pastures and near streams. We would just bring water to a boil, take it off the heat, and plunk the leaves in there for a few minutes.
Later, when I got "into" herbs, it appeared that there were RULES for infusion. Hmmmm... ok. The official rules (yes, that is my tongue in my cheek) state that leaves and flowers should be infused in water for 5 to 15 minutes. Some suggest then leaving the herb in the water overnight in the fridge and straining it in the morning. Roots and barks should be boiled for at least 15 minutes. Coverings should be used to keep the steam from taking away the good stuff.
If you are making teas for medicinal purposes, by all means, research and follow the guidelines. If you're making herbal teas for pleasure - enjoy the process of your choice!
I like to gather flowers and herbs during the summer. Once dry, they often get put into a large jar where they become a sort of "tea potpourri". Each cup has it's own character and flavor, depending on what gets scooped out for that cup.
Right now, the lemon verbena is flowering, and I will dry the tiny blossoms to see what they taste like. The Tutti-fruity hyssop has delicious flowers, and they will go into the jar too. Lots of pineapple sage, echinacea, mints, and chamomile too. If the passionflower vine ever blooms, we'll put some of that in, along with vitex berries that will be here for the first time. I'm also on a search for elderberries, since mine didn't bloom this year, but I see them in the wild.
Wander around your yard with a focus on teas and see what you can come up with. Basils are good additions, lemon thyme, mints, and roses. Go easy on things like sage and rosemary. Include them, but consider the strength of their flavors so they don't overwhelm your blend.


jayedee said...

i am so envious that your weather has you thinking about hot teas. we're still months away from cooler temps.
c'est la vie.

Anonymous said...

This sounds like good advice. Tea should be fun and spontaneous to be enjoyed on a whim, not complicated by a lot of rules.

I'm enjoying Earl Grey this afternoon.


Laura said...

I love your candor: "Sitting here in my fuzzy slippers,it seems like a little talk about hot beverages might be in order." And I love how you've dubbed this an "August Chill." Very appropriate for this Fall-like weather!

By the way, I'm enjoying Ginger tea this afternoon. :)