Learning how to make herbal tea "from scratch" opens up a world of possibilities!
Hot teas, iced teas, herbal tea concentrates ... I'll show you how to make them from your own, homegrown herbs.
There's a ton of information on this page. Read it all at your leisure. Or use these links to jump straight to the topic of your choice ...
* Note: Feel free to use fresh or dried herbs - whichever you have on hand. The only difference is the amount of herbs you'll use.
The "rule of thumb" is: 3 units (teaspoons, tablespoons, cups, ounces, etc.) of fresh herbs = 1 unit of dried herbs.
When substituting one for the other, just remember: 3 fresh = 1 dried.
What You'll Need:
Fresh is best! Nothing beats the bright, natural flavor of straight-from-the-garden herbs.
I'm often asked, "What's the best water for making herbal tea? Should I use bottled spring water, or is normal tap water okay?"
Tap water is fine, as long as it's clean, fresh, and has no unusual taste or odor. If your water tastes or smells funky, your tea will, too.
How does your tap water measure up? Here's an easy way to tell ...
If you're a loose-leaf tea lover, you likely have all the essential tea-brewing tools in your cabinet already.
So get 'em out and get 'em ready!
Okay, enough preliminaries. Let's make some herbal tea!!!
How hot? That's a topic of heated (pun intended!) debate among the experts. Some say to bring your tea water to a full boil. Others say to heat it almost to a full boil. I say, let your own taste buds be the judge.
Personally, I'm in the "almost boiling" camp. That's the stage when large bubbles begin to form in the water, and you see the first little "poof" of steam.
It looks like this ...
*TIP: If you do let your water come to a full boil, be sure not to let it go too long at that stage. A minute, at most.
All those bursting bubbles are oxygen escaping from the water. Lose too much oxygen, and your tea will taste "flat". So keep an eye on that kettle!
Before you put fresh herbs into your infuser or into your teapot, rub them gently between your fingers for a few seconds. That helps release their natural oils - the good stuff that gives herbs their scent, flavor and health benefits.
If you're using dried herbs, just break large leaves into small pieces. Don't totally crush them, or you'll end up with a powdery tea.
Flower blossoms and petals can be left whole.
Put your loose herbs or infuser into the pot. Then pour in your heated water, cover the pot, and ...
How long should you steep herbal tea?
Each herb "does its own thing", on its own time schedule. So, as with many things in the DIY herbal tea world, there's no one-size-fits-all answer.
I've found that 5-7 minutes of steeping time is good for most herbs. But there are exceptions.
For example, lavender flower tea tends to become bitter after 3-4 minutes of steeping. And chamomile tea takes upwards of 10 minutes to reach perfection.
That's why I recommend starting with 3-5 minutes of steeping time. Then take a sip every minute or two, taste testing until your tea is just the way you like it.
You're hot. You're tired. You're craving a nice, refreshing glass of iced tea. So what do you do? (No, making a Starbucks run isn't the answer!)
Chill out with your favorite herbal tea - on ice!
Here are three different ways to make herbal iced tea:
Making hot-brewed iced tea is as simple as can be!
What You'll Need:
Viola! In 10 minutes or less, you're sipping your favorite iced herbal tea.
Simple, right? Yes, but. There's a downside to this method.
When hot tea meets cold ice, the ice melts - leaving you with watered-down iced tea. :-(
What's the solution? Use more herbs!
Brew your tea with double the amount of herbs you normally use. When poured over ice, your extra-strong hot tea will become perfect-strength iced tea. :-)
As an alternative: brew your tea normally, then put it in the fridge to chill. In an hour or so, your tea will be fully cooled and ready to drink - without melting your ice.
In the summers of my youth, sun tea was the "it" thing. Nearly every mom and grandmom in our neighborhood had a glass jar filled with water and teabags, brewing in the afternoon sun.
Now that we're growing our own tea ingredients, we can really up the game with a multitude of new sun tea flavors!
What You'll Need:
After removing all herbs from the container, store any leftover tea in the fridge. As long it's kept cold, your sun tea will stay fresh and tasty for 24 - 48 hours.
Herbal fridge tea is made the same way as herbal sun tea, except ...
Instead of using the sun to steep your tea, your refrigerator does the work.
Put your water and herbs in the container before you go to bed, and set the container in your refrigerator. When morning comes, you'll have icy-cold herbal fridge tea!
When I first began learning how to custom-blend herbal teas, I found the same advice in every source I read:
"Combine a few leaves of one herb with a few leaves of another.
Steep, and taste."
That works. But ...
When you do it that way, you're brewing a new cup of tea each time. If you love the result, great! But what if you don't ? Down the drain it goes. You've just wasted precious time and herbs. :-(
After one too many down-the-drain experiments, I found a much better way. Simply put: Brew first, then blend.
What You'll Need:
Gather up a selection of herbs to experiment with.
Using just 5 different varieties of herbs, you'll have 120 possible combinations to taste test. (Remember that "factorial" stuff from junior high math class???)
Put a handful of each herb into its own Mason jar.
Add almost-boiling water, and cover the jars.
Let each jar steep for 5-7 minutes.
When each tea is steeped to perfection, remove the herbs from the jars. And let the experimenting began!
Start with a two-herb blend. Choose any two of your just-brewed teas.
Pour a bit of one tea into your cup, then add some of the other. Swirl the blend around in your cup. Then taste test.
What do you think? Is it delish as it is? Or might it be better with more of one flavor than the other? Experiment until you know for sure.
On the other hand, maybe your taste buds declared that flavor combination to be an epic fail. It's okay! Epic fails happen. Down the drain they go!
Once you've experimented with two-herb blends, move on to three- and four-herb combos.
Play with your teas! You never know what yummy blend you'll discover next!
What's a "concentrate"? It's a super-duper-strong herbal tea that you brew now and use later to make normal-strength tea.
Having a pool party and need iced tea for 20 people? Make a concentrate!
Want enough home-made tea to hold you through a full day at work? Take a concentrate!
What You'll Need:
When you're ready to serve your tea, mix concentrate with boiling water (for hot tea) or cold water (for iced tea) , to taste.
Note: 2 cups of concentrate yields approximately 1 gallon of tea.
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