November 30th, 2016
Written by Miss Ella Campagne, Learning Garden Educator
As I’m sitting down with a steaming cup of peppermint tea, memories from the recently finished garden season wash over me. I remember planting seedlings, watering and watching them grow, and finally picking and eating the delicious food that we grew together. While much of the fresh produce from the garden is now behind us, the herbs that we’ve processed and dried are still here and ready to be transformed into cups of tea to warm us up over the winter. Growing herbs is an easy and fun activity and a great way to introduce kids to things like herbal teas. Below is a list of 5 perennial herbs to grow that make great tea that kids will be sure to enjoy!
1. Anise Hyssop- A beautiful perennial herb, native to Asia, this sturdy little plant produces the most beautiful purple flowers. You can harvest the leaves and flowers for a delicious, lightly anise flavored beverage that will support digestion, shift tension, and ground uncertainty. The sweetness of this herb makes it appeal especially to children.
2. Mint- Either peppermint or spearmint will make a delicious cup of relaxing tea. Helpful to calm nerves, soothe a sore throat, or just to cool off, mint can be drank year round either iced or hot. Your mint plant will naturally spread through underground runners so be sure to uproot some and share with a neighbor!
3. Tulsi or Holy Basil- Actually an annual plant like our other basils, holy basil will drop seeds in the fall so new plants will naturally sprout in the spring. Widely used in Ayurveda medicine, everything that touches this plant is considered holy. A calming and relaxing tea, and great for everyone, tulsi is one of my favorites!
4. Lavender- The purple flowers of lavender are loved by so many for the beauty and scent. Pick a few flowers and leaves before it’s too late to throw into your tea cup. Very cooling, relaxing, moving, and tasty, these flowers will surely be a favorite for kids too. I like to imagine a field of lavender swaying softly in the breeze as I drink lavender tea before nap time.
5. Sage- So many know sage as a culinary spice, but the leaves from this perennial make a tasty tea too. A warming plant, sage should be picked right after flowering when the leaves are large and soft. Particularly good for increasing circulation to the brain, calming nervousness, and quieting headaches. Sage plants can get very large and woody so make sure to trim yours regularly.
All of the above plants are plants in the mint family, as you can tell from their square stems, opposite leaves, and aromatics. When the leaves are healthy, full and green they can be harvested for tea. Either use them fresh in iced or hot tea or dry them and store them to drink later. The winter time is a great time to try new herbs in your tea cup. Any of them that you like, you can grow right in your own garden!
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