Our method is simple (as we always prefer!) – walk the garden with some clippers or scissors and snip handfuls of what calls to you. Follow your nose, blending the fresh herbs that say “Pick me, pick me!” as you walk around. You can start out with slightly smaller batches, as you get to know what you like. Cut stems about 6 inches long, as if you were gathering a bouquet – well, actually you are gathering a bouquet – a tea bouquet! We recommend a good handful of fresh herbs – where you can barely close your fingers together.
We take this concentrated tea and dilute with a bit of chilled, filtered water from the fridge, add ice and enjoy! You’ll have to play around with the dilution rate – sometimes we don’t dilute at all, and sometimes we dilute up to 50%. It depends on the herb blend we used and how long we let it steep. Stronger herbs such as rosemary, beebalm or such, and/or a longer steep time usually call for a slightly higher dilution rate. We drink this throughout the day, and even with our meals - hello chilled drink with lunch and dinner – yum!
German Chamomile: this fruity herb adds a hint of floral apple flavor to your tea and has the added benefit of being cooling and relaxing. Snip a few flowers to add to your tea, or make ice cubes by floating the fresh flowers in an ice cube tray and covering with water before freezing.
Peppermint: this bold mint friend makes a great addition to your herbal iced teas. Depending on your taste buds, you can have this herb make up to half your blend. It is very cooling and soothing, especially on really hot days or when you may have a headache.
Lemon Balm: often this cooling minty herb with a hint of lemon flavor makes up the majority of the fresh herbs in our teas. Its mild scent and flavor make it a great base for your herbal iced teas, sometimes we’ll even grab a whole handful of this by itself! As a member of the mint family, it is cooling and refreshing while also supporting relaxation and calm, as well as easing headaches. This herb is also best used fresh - when dried it doesn't hold onto its lemon/mint scent and flavor quite as well. As a prolific grower there is usually plenty, and harvesting and using it is the best way to help control its rampant growth - so get going using this herb!
Catnip: a little goes a long way with this herb, which is cooling and relaxing as well. It has a slightly smoky mint flavor (some may say skunky!) – so use lightly. Just 3-5 stems with leaves and flowers will add just the right flavor.
Catmint: the bright purple flowers of this mint family member make a great addition to your tea; it combines the best of both mints and catnip together. A few sprigs helps add depth and flavor to your tea blend.
Anise Hyssop: a delightful light scent of anise, some fruity and light floral undertones will add some great flavor to your tea bouquet with this herb. While not fans of black licorice, we absolutely love this herb’s scent and flavor. A few sprigs will add some great flavor to your tea while also supporting breathing.
Beebalm: looking for a hint of spice? Try a few sprigs of our native spice – beebalm! Indigenous peoples of North America made tea from this herb – like anise hyssop above, it helps support lungs and breathing – which may be useful with the increase in forest fires and smoky skies in late summer.
A few herbs to avoid or use in very, very limited quantities: lavender, rosemary, thyme, feverfew, sage and calendula. While beautiful,tasty, and beneficial, the strong flavors of these herbs may overwhelm other herbs in your blend. These strong flavors not be what you or your guests are looking for. So use these in smaller quantities or skip them as you make your initial blends and get to know what herbs you like best together. At a class last month, Erin used both sage and rosemary in the tea blend, and it wasn't as well received as other blends we've made for on farm classes.
During these hot days of late summer, get out into the garden and see what herbs call to you to craft your own herbal iced teas!