Make Tea

Teas or tea substitutes is what we really mean…

You know how everyone warns you to plant mint in a pot because it’s so invasive it will take over the garden? Yet how many mint teabags are imported to the UK? And what about that fresh mint tea you can buy in expensive cafes, that’s flown here in polystyrene crates? Time to restore some sanity with locally sourced infusions.

icon tea postersPosters

Here are a couple of A4 posters you can put up near the kettle to inspire people to pick rather than shop.

Teas to try yourself

Tea pots are great. Charity shops are full of them, and while you’re there, a hat makes a good tea cosy.

IMAG2477The easiest way to dry herbs is to hang them in a paper bag and shake it every now and then. When they’re dry, store in an airtight container in the dark.
It’s worth having an open mind and an adventurous palette. It seems that anything non-toxic steeped in hot water is considered an excellent beverage by someone somewhere. Here are a few suggestions:

Herb Verdict
Blackberry leaf surprisingly good. pick before they get prickly and dry in a paper bag.
Sweet Cicely leaf good fresh. bland when dried
Fennel leaf / seed amazingly good
Lemon Balm leaf good fresh. bland when dried
Mint leaf well known and justly admired
Lime (Linden) flowers good fresh or dried
Rosemary leaf nice if you like rosemary…
Marjoram leaf really nice!
Yarrow leaf good fresh – bland when dried
Nettle leaf some people love it. not sure why
Meadowsweet flowers Fresh are divine. dried not as good
Jasmine blossom good added to other teas fresh, surprisingly disappointing when dried
Pine needle citrusy & good for vitamin C
Bay leaf great – and it doesn’t get easier than this
Olive leaf unimpressive
Dandelion tea apparently involves roots as well as leaves. haven’t tried yet
Rose leaf tea not nearly as nice as blackberry leaf
Eucalyptus Jeremy G recommends a few leaves in hot water. ‘Australians add it to black tea and call it billy tea.’

 What not to buy…

Local shops display an array of expensive packets of tired imported teas made from weeds that grow all around us.

Castle Climbing Centre

The most inspiring example of locally grown tea is at the Castle Climbing Centre cafe N4 2HA. Read more here.
In Feb 2014 Nick, resident tea grower, and Mel, herbalist, showed us the garden and some of their imaginative herbal blends (available to buy). If you want to learn more from them, there’s a weekly herb volunteer day on Mondays from 11am – 4pm, (check 1st, this may be out of date)