What’s better than a fragrant, steaming hot cup of tea on a chilly winter day? How about knowing that you created the blend yourself? That’s right, you can be your own tea artist! It’s as easy as knowing what herbs you can grow at home and where you can order bulk ingredients to create your own blends that will perfectly suit whatever mood the day brings on, wake or calm you, or soothe what ails you. In Oregon, you can find herbs at Pacific Botanicals, Horizon Herbs, and The Herb Shop.
Read on for how-to tips on creating the perfect at-home blends.
Pacific Botanicals, located in the picturesque Applegate Valley, is a company that has been growing and selling its extensive varieties of medicinal organic herbs for over 30 years. They sell bulk fresh and dried herbs and seeds straight from their certified, sustainable farm — and provide a wealth of easy-to-access information on their website. Horizon Herbs, also in the Applegate, has a wide variety of medicinal seeds and potted plant starts to order for your own garden. If purchasing your products in person is more your style, head over to The Herb Shop in Grants Pass where they sell a large assortment of locally-grown bulk herbs, as well as brewing equipment such as pots, bags, infusers, strainers, and bombillas (special straws that also act as strainers).
If you’re planning on going the grow-your-own route, remember Southern Oregon’s winter climate means bringing most herbs indoors. Arranging a few pots of tea ingredients on a kitchen windowsill or table can add an accessible and aromatic touch inside to offset the dreariness outdoors. Plant some lemon verbena and a mint variety to pluck the leaves from, or pot some lavender and chamomile, and use the small flower buds. When the weather warms up, you can try cultivating some calendula, fennel, or rose hips outdoors. All leaves and flowers used for tea should be dried first, which can easily be done by hanging them upside down for a few days. Check this property chart for a list of common herbs used for teas, and their medicinal properties.
Other ingredients you can include in your blends to add just the right tang, zest, or sweetness to your cup are: dried orange and lemon peels, ginger root, cinnamon, and cloves.
When brewing loose, dried flowers and leaves, add about 2 tablespoons of the dried ingredients to a brewing utensil such as a bag or strainer. Place it in a mug and pour boiling water over it, then allow to steep for about five minutes. For a stronger, more medicinal effect, use three or four tablespoons. Sweeten with sugar, agave syrup, or honey to taste.
Don’t be afraid to try out different combinations! The fun is in the experimenting — just be sure to research any unfamiliar herbs before using to make sure they are safe for consumption.
The Herb Shop
Editor’s note: Updated from original version published in November 2011