Last year, I was blessed with the opportunity of being published. I had dreamt for years of writing a book, and the perfect opportunity presented itself in December of 2021. That dream turned into reality when my first book, “Tea Gardening for Beginners“, was published in July of 2022.
Why tea gardening?
I had been growing my herbal tea ingredients for years. I figured I could grow my own food, why not grow my own tea? So each year I planted more ingredients in my kitchen garden. Over 10 years ago, I started with mint. An easy to grow herb, that is basically indestructible, I always wanted to have an abundance of mint. From peppermint, I added Apple Mint, Spearmint, Chocolate Mint, Banana Mint, Strawberry Mint and more! Imagine the flavour possibilities they add to your tea cup!
Then, I added hibiscus! You know that red colour in herbal tea, that tastes tangy? That’s hibiscus. Although a tropical plant, if started early enough in the winter (see my Seed Starting Calculator for specific dates for your area), you too can grow your own hibiscus.
Chamomile is a fairly easy one to grow too. Just sow the seeds where you want them in the garden, water and wait. They will sprout shortly after and within the first year, you will have a really good harvest.
Since then, I added lemon balm, lemongrass, corn flowers, lavender, calendula, marshmallow and more! As my tea blends expanded, I started foraging for more ingredients. Spruce tips in the spring, red clover from our unsprayed natural field, dandelion, gingko leaves from our tree, echinacea and lady’s mantle from our perennial gardens.
The motivation for writing my book was to inspire others to grow their own tea ingredients. It’s an incredible freedom to have jars of individual home-saved ingredients on hand and ready for a quick brew.
In the book, I not only share how to grow your own ingredients, but I also share how to blend and properly brew them. You want to make sure ratios are correct when adding ingredients to a tea blend. Some have stronger flavours than others, some are added for their medicinal purposes and others are added for colour. Put them all together and you end up with a fresh and tasty brew, with no additives and using only the best ingredients.
Did you know that store-bought tea in tea bags consists primarily of dust and bits? If you take a tea bag apart, you will find the tiniest pieces. These tiny pieces have very little flavour and often artificial flavours are added to bring out the flavours we expect.
By growing your own herbal tea ingredients, you choose what you add to your blends and are in complete control.
In my book, I share some ideas for brewing the best cup of tea. First, I suggest using a teapot for brewing or a tea press, not a tea bag. Tea bags are small and don’t allow for the leaves of your tea to expand and release their best flavours. Brew your tea in a pot, then use a strainer to keep the leaves out of your cup. Afterwards, add your spent tea ingredients to the compost bin or bury them in the garden. You will be enriching the soil, and keeping tea bags out of the landfill.
This year, when planning your garden, consider adding a few herbs to be used for tea. In my book I cover 29 of them. Fruits may be used in your tea blends, along with flowers, leaves, roots and seeds. You don’t need a large space. A small raised bed, container or a few pots is all you need to get started.
To get you started blending your own tea blend, I am sharing one of my own recipes. My book covers 6 different recipes, but the one I’m sharing today is a brand new one just for you.
You can either blend enough for one teapot, or you can blend a jar full. Just adjust the ratios before starting. If you want to brew a pot of tea, use measurements like teaspoons and tablespoons. If you want to blend enough for a jar, use larger measurements like 1 cup, ½ cup and 1/4 cup.
I hope you consider growing a few tea ingredients in your garden this year. You may find that once you get started, you will be motivated to add more and more, just as I did.
Signed copies of my book are available for purchase in my shop. It is also available on Amazon and at bookstores.