Growing your own herbs is easy and so much more satisfying than buying your daily brew from the supermarket. To make your tea, all you need to do is pour boiling water over fresh or dried herbs and allow your infusion to steep until it’s as strong as you like. Typically, herb teas are drunk without milk but you might like to try them with a little sugar or honey.
Chamomile, known for its soothing qualities, has small feathery leaves and pretty, daisy-like white flowers. Usually infused from the dried plant rather than fresh, chamomile is unusual in that the flowers, not the leaves are infused. Fresh chamomile has a grassier flavour and a delicate floral aroma. Plant chamomile in a sunny spot in the garden in well-drained soil.
Zingy and refreshing, mint also aids digestion. Mint is often overlooked as it seems such an obvious choice, but it’s an excellent option for anyone wanting to start brewing their own herbal teas, especially as there are so many wonderful varieties: ginger mint, apple mint, garden mint, spear mint and more – explore your local nursery and experiment to find your favourite. Mint is great for container planting. It spreads easily and dies back in winter, but it will re-emerge in spring.
You might think thyme should be saved for savoury dishes but a herbal tea made from thyme is something special. Try it with a little honey and infused with a few fennel seeds or fresh ginger. You might also like to try lemon thyme – the zingy lemon takes over thyme’s woodier qualities.
Known for its anti-nausea properties, ginger is a tropical, red flowering plant. Ginger loves a sheltered spot, filtered sunlight, warm weather, humidity, and rich, moist soil. The best time to harvest ginger is any time after the leaves have died down. Usually it takes eight to ten months to get to that point. Put a slice of ginger root in a mug of boiling water and infuse for five minutes.
With its distinctive anise flavour, this tall, willowy herb has an attractive flower. When dried, the seeds have a stronger flavour. Fennel tends to grow high – up to 1.5 m – so best to keep at the back of a border. It likes plenty of sun and water. The plant goes to seed at the end of summer so best to let them dry on the plant and collect in the autumn. Crush 1-2 teaspoons of seeds and infuse with boiling water.