Herbal Teas and herbal Infusions

Do you ever drink herbal teas? I Know that you can make a tea using bergamot, or the leaves from native beebalm and I’ve been thinking of giving this a try. Has anyone else done this? I’ve heard that it smells and tastes somewhat like Earl Grey tea.

To be considered a true tea, any herbal tea should be mixed with the leaves of the tea plant (Camellia sinensis). Most of the herbal teas available in stores contain a mixture of green or black tea and a variety of herbs and flavorings.

On the other hand herbal infusions don’t contain any form of tea at all, and can be a complex mix of dried herbs, flowers and fruits which might be considered to aid in various medical conditions. An herbal infusion can also be made up of one single herb – such as mint or Lemon Verbena.

Lemon verbena (Aloysia triphylla) is a deciduous shrub that can be grown in a sunny spot in the garden or in a container. When bruised or crushed the leaves emit a wonderful soothing lemony smell. It is easily propagated from cuttings. The leaves of the plant are used to make a soothing infusion that can be drunk hot or cold. Verbena is considered a mild sedative and is also believed to aid digestion.

Mint (mentha) is a hardy perennial that is invasive unless contained. Many people prefer to plant it in a container or designate a separate area of the garden. It grows in sun to partial shade. The runners and shoots are easy to propagate. There are many types of mint, including spearmint, peppermint and chocolate mint. It is fun to grow a variety and experiment with the flavors. Mint infusions are recommended for cramps and nausea and headache and are thought to aid digestion.

It is possible to create infusions with any variety of dried fruits and flowers, including lemon balm, orange peel, chamomile, dried roses and hips and hibiscus. There are many Web sites and books that list herbs and their related properties. Try experimenting with what’s growing in your garden or buy a few herbs to see if you would like to grow them in the future.

Herbal infusions are most appealing when you make them in a glass container.Some prefer to use a French press coffee maker or a glass teapot. Glass mugs also allow you to enjoy the color of the tea as you drink it.

As you would when making black tea the proper way, start by preheating the teapot and cups with the boiling water. Bruise freshly picked herbs by gently crushing them in a clean cloth. Use at least one teaspoon dried or one-half cup freshly picked herbs for each cup of water. Place the herbs loosely in the teapot or use a tea infusing ball or basket and add boiling water. Let steep for five to 10 minutes.

Unless they contain fruits or berries, infusions often do not darken as they steep. You must experiment with timing, to determine when the tea is most pleasing to drink. Then sit back, sip slowly and enjoy.

I plan on experimenting with creating infusions this summer. I grow mint, and as I said earlier – native beebalm. I wonder if it’s possible to make an infusion with lavender? oh that sounds nice doesn’t ?

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