How to grow a tea gar­den

Manitoba Gardener Magazine - - LOCAL DIRT - By Ta­nia Mof­fat

Tea is a won­der­ful and healthy bev­er­age. It can soothe most of what ails us — lack of sleep and di­ges­tion is­sues for starters — and it is easy to grow the in­gre­di­ents in your own gar­den. Home­grown herbs seem to make tastier teas, maybe be­cause they are fresh and grown with love. Or, per­haps it's be­cause the in­gre­di­ents haven’t been sit­ting on a store shelf for who knows how long. Best of all you can be cer­tain that your tea leaves are or­ganic.

Grow­ing a tea gar­den can be more re­ward­ing than one may ini­tially think. Mint, chamomile and lemon balm are old stand­bys but there are many other de­light­ful herbs, flow­ers and plants you can grow to make the per­fect cup. Warn­ing: Once you get started you may be­come hooked.

When start­ing out it helps to la­bel your plants and pho­to­graph them. Many of these herbs are peren­ni­als and this way you can iden­tify them eas­ily the fol­low­ing year.

Mak­ing herbal tea comes down to ex­per­i­men­ta­tion. Start with the ba­sic herbs and ex­per­i­ment with dif­fer­ent brews. Try adding chopped gin­ger and orange zest to lemon ver­bena, mix­ing rose hips, chamomile and pineap­ple sage, pineap­ple mint and ste­via, or fresh berries with lemon balm or straw­berry mint. You can also add herbs to black, white or green tea bases to add more flavour.

One note of cau­tion, check with a pro­fes­sional to en­sure that none of the herbs you are grow­ing will have a neg­a­tive im­pact with your med­i­ca­tions or ex­ist­ing health con­di­tions. Pregnant women should be es­pe­cially aware of what herbs they in­gest.

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