Thursday, July 1, 2010

Gathering Herbs for Tea

I am so very happy to be back home with my own little family! They are glad to have us here as well; a home just isn't the same without Mommy in it!
As I walked around outside last night seeing how our garden had grown in my absence, I noticed many of my herbs were ready to be harvested for use in herbal teas! So this morning after the sun had dried the dew off of the plants the boys and I went out to harvest some herbs to be used in our homemade herbal teas throughout the rest of this year. Everyone in the family loves drinking herb teas all year long (well, everyone except Logan, although he will drink it if he is feeling bad, as "medicine" to help him heal). So during the growing season I try to get enough harvested, dried and stored away to last all winter long until the next summer.

I am trying to teach the boys all about the herbs that we grow and what they are used for. They love learning about them, but taste testing far outweighs everything else ;-) Today we gathered Red Raspberry leaves, they are great for use as "pregnancy tea" as well as tea for alleviating PMS symptoms. And while at the moment, I don’t need Red Raspberry leaf tea for anything (thanks to Claire who is still very much nursing on demand!) … it never hurts to be prepared!

We also harvested leaves of the Passion flower, which I have been reading are great for PMS when mixed with Red Raspberry leaves as a tea. Passionflower is also given as a tea to children as a calming agent (great for over-stimulated or hyper-active kids!) it helps restore calm and can even act as an extremely mild sedative to help soothe and relax and combat insomnia.

Then we gathered Bee Balm also known as Wild Bergamot. Bee balm is good for coughs, sore throats, nausea, and menstrual cramps. And it makes a very tasty minty-slightly citrusy tea. We grow the Monarda fistulosa which has a lavender colored blossom and a very strong fragrance.

Then Matthew and Ethan gathered spearmint while Logan concentrated on collecting catnip. The spearmint, everyone enjoys as mint tea. I also liked adding it to my red raspberry leaf tea last year when I was pregnant with Claire because I really loved the taste! The Catnip makes a good digestive aid, tonic, and mild sleeping aid. I have read however that some herbalists believe it can slightly increase menstrual flow, so they suggest never taking catnip while pregnant… I can’t honestly say I’ve ever noticed that effect myself, however, I would never take it while pregnant just in case! Catnip is also a wonderful insect repellant! I have found that crushing the leaves and rubbing a tiny bit of the juice on exposed skin really works well at keeping the mosquitoes away! Maybe that is one of the reasons cats love to roll in it so much? It probably works just as well at repelling fleas!

My very favorite flavor herb for tea we have growing right now is this:

It is an Anise Hyssop plant. This plant is three years old now and self sows easily! I’ve shared baby plants with most everyone I know! (If you live nearby and want a baby plant, be sure to ask!) It has the most yummy anise scent and flavor. It makes delicious tea! I’ve read that Anise Hyssop is good for fevers, coughs, colds, and to aid digestion.

While we were gathering the anise hyssop, the boys found a recently shed exoskeleton of a Praying Mantis below the bush.

So we searched and searched until finally we found the bright green now larger praying mantis hiding among the leaves.
It was a good harvest! Now I am moving the cuttings inside to hang in the pantry so that they can dry in the dark. Once they are dry and the leaves have been removed from the stems, we will store them in glass jars to await future use!

Drinking a daily cup of tea will surely starve the apothecary. ~Chinese Proverb


  1. I enjoy lemon balm tea, what a great harvest of herbs, cheers Marie

  2. Your herbs look great. The oregano and thyme I had on the deck died suddenly and none of the herbs I planted this year are growing. So if you're giving away baby plants, I'll take them. Maybe if I start with a whole plant instead of seeds, it will go better.

  3. Your herbs look wonderful, and what a great lesson for your children. Have a wonderful weekend

  4. Sarah, I'll pot a bunch of things up for you this weekend!

  5. We are collecting chamomile and lemon balm right now for tea. How do you dry your herbs?

  6. Chamomile flowers I have just spread out on a sheet in the shade and stirred them around once or twice a day to turn them so they dry on all sides. The leaves we picked like the RRL and the anise hyssop we do the same way. The herbs we gather on the stems we just hang them to dry in our pantry or laundry room (both are fairly dark and well ventilated)Once they are dry I sit at the kitchen table with the boys and we remove the leaves from the stems and store the leaves in glass jars and the stems go on the compost pile.


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