MAKE YOUR OWN herbal teas
When steeped in water, many herbs, flowers, tree barks and roots make delicious, healthful brews.
Drinking an infusion of freshly picked herbs is a great way to harness vitamins, minerals and antioxidants direct from nature. But dried herbs retain many of their properties too, and they’re ideal for when fresh herbs are out of season. Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) flowers, for example, can be harvested when freshly opened and dried for later use (in fact, chamomile flowers are best used dry), and marshmallow (Althaea offinalis) root can be harvested in autumn, and dried and stored. Chamomile flowers are excellent for calming nerves and aiding sleep. Dry and combine with dried lemon balm for a sleepy-time tea. Another calming tea is lavender and lemon balm
– a beautiful, sweet-smelling brew that no one will be able to resist.
Marshmallow has high mucilage content, which is soothing on inflamed membranes in the mouth and throat. It also has antibacterial and antitussive properties, so it’s useful for sore throats and dry coughs. Combine it with dried thyme and sage for a medicinal tea for coughs and colds. To opitimise the properties of marshmallow, steep it in cold or lukewarm water for 4-8 hours to release the mucilage. As an option, package it on its own and attach clear instructions.
Or make up an after-dinner digestive or tummy tamer tea with 1 part spearmint or peppermint leaves and 1/8 part dried liquorice root.
Dill (Anethum graveolens), caraway (Carum carvi) and fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) seeds are great for reducing the effects of wind, such as stomach pain and bloating. They all have antispasmodic and carminative properties, which help to decrease spasm in the muscles of the digestive tract. For a pleasant tasting tea, mix fennel seed, dill seed, peppermint leaves and chamomile flowers.