MAKE YOUR OWN herbal teas

When steeped in wa­ter, many herbs, flow­ers, tree barks and roots make de­li­cious, health­ful brews.

NZ Gardener - Gifts from the Gardens - - Food -

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.

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