Herbal Teas

Herbal Teas

Tea without tea leaves.

I used to hate herbal teas. They were flavorless substitutes for my beloved black and green teas. They usually contain no caffeine, which made them even more useless. Of course, at this point in my life I had only tried the bland herbal tea bags readily available at grocery stores.

My sister, an accomplished herb gardener, introduced me to what an herbal tea is supposed to be. She grows and dries all her own herbs, which means they are harvested at their peak flavor. She made me a cup of homegrown mint and chamomile tea. Suffice it to say, I was surprised.

 

Most herbal teas I had previously tried had a flavor similar to wet grass, if they had any taste at all. This tea had a mild mint flavor that was perfectly highlighted by just a touch of honey. Like tea leaves, herbs require proper drying and moisture-free storage to develop their full flavor.

 

Another mistake I had made was brewing herbal blends the same as I would a black tea. The flavor of herbs is much more delicate so long brewing ruins it. Use 160 degree Fahrenheit water and steep the tea for only 3 minutes. Herbal tea usually has a lighter color than black tea, and may appear nearly colorless depending on the type of herbs used.

 

Sugar and milk overpower delicate herbs. If you must use a sweetener, a small amount of honey works best. I have also heard that agave nectar is suitable for herbal teas. Finally, store the herbs the same way you would tea bags – in a sealed, dark, moisture proof container. Experiment with different herbs and combinations until you find the one that appeals to you.