This morning I gathered yellow honeysuckle for my morning tea. The tea has a vibrant yellow color, smells a bit like grass and has a very calm or mild green tea taste. It was a beautiful way to start my weekend 🙂
Honeysuckle…to be or not to be?
To Be: Honeysuckle petals make a delicious and fragrant tea. It is said to help with coughs, reduce temperature and to remove toxins from the body (laxative). Avoid putting the leaves of the plant in the tea because it will make it taste bitter.
Not To Be: Do NOT put the honeysuckle berries in your tea or eat them. They are poisonous!
To Be: Hummingbirds love these plants so you will be able to sip tea and watch nature’s beauty.
Not To Be: Other wildlife also like these plants such as bees and moths…hmmmm
Anyways, it is best to harvest the petals when they first bloom because this is when they are the most fragrant. You can use the petals fresh or dry them. Boil water in your tea pot, pour it into your teacup to warm it up and then empty your tea pot. Place about 10 petals into your tea pot and pour boiling water (176-185°f) over the tea. Then steep for 3 minutes. Enjoy! You can also try it chilled. Both ways are delicious!
If you want to check out the book I have been basing my tea garden on, I really love and recommend it!: Homegrown Tea: An Illustrated Guide to Planting, Harvesting, and Blending Teas and Tisanes
Lilac Iced Tea is one of my new favorites! I read it was bitter, but honestly I loved it!
To make the tea, I put about 3 blooms into a cold brew coffee infuser and let it sit over night. The next day I tried it over ice and had a brilliant idea…Lilac Ice Cubes! I already had these cute mini bunt cake molds so I wrapped a bloom around the center of each mold, filled them with water and let them set in the freezer. A couple of hours later I had the most adorable ice cubes I have ever seen and would be perfect for a wedding shower. Love Love Love!!!!
Last year I had a terrible time trying to find Viola Ordata plants. One greenhouse owner told me I should just stop by someones yard and dig them up myself. Ya…I can just see me trying to explain that to a homeowner. I finally found some on Etsy, but I wanted them in the same raised box as the other tea plants which has full sun and Viola Ordata likes shade. Anyways, they are super small yet and I don’t know if they are going to live or die.
All of this background to say that I was at my friend’s house and I stopped cold with excitement when I saw them in her yard. She let me take a few home and then brought me a whole bucket full as a surprise the next day! She said, “You do realize, most people consider these weeds, right?” Yes! Soooo excited!
I tried the tea and it didn’t taste like much so I let it sit for a couple of hours and then it sort of tasted leafy or perhaps like a plain green tea. However, it is one of the more beautiful flowers as a tea because it does not wilt. It is really beautiful! As an herb it is supposed to be good for headaches and coughs. Pretty neat!
Rosemary tea is delightful. It tastes just like it smells which means it is a bit woodsy and quite potent. One sprig could be used for several cups of tea. I let a fresh sprig steep for a few minutes and then enjoyed every last drop. I did not add any sweetener or milk because I thought it had a wonderful taste all on its own.
The medicinal benefits according to Cassie Liversidge’s Homegrown Tea are:
- Believed to help with headaches, colds and depression.
- It may stimulate the nervous system and circulation and as a result could improve your memory.
- It is an energy giving digestive tonic.
While I was finishing up Chemo I met and befriended a lady who works at the Botanical Gardens. She introduced me to the book “Homegrown Tea.” I dove into the book, highlighting and figuring out what would grow in our area. It was so much fun to plant and now see come into bloom. Well, she was able to join me for tea last week and it was so fun to talk “plants” with her while sipping our delicious Echinacea Tea. No sweetener needed, it has a honey taste to it all on its own. Most people use the root, but you can use the flowers and leaves as well. I dried out the flowers and a few leaves and let it steep for a few minutes before serving and like I said, it really was good. The medicinal benefits are not bad either. It is supposed to be good for the immune system and help with digestion.
We had a fun filled Tuesday this past week. One of my friends brought over her two kiddos for a tea party to taste test Bergamot Tea. The three year old girl even wore her Cinderella dress for the occasion.
Bergamot is probably the most beautiful tea flower in my garden. It smells really spicy, but tastes like an ordinary black tea. It is often used in Earl Grey Teas so I am not at all surprised that I really liked it! We had let the flower steep for three minutes in hot water, but if you let it soak over night the water takes on that same spicy taste as the smell.
I honestly find this plant to be so beautiful, I almost want to plant them all around my yard just for the pop of color.
One fun fact is that the early settlers needed to find a replacement for the heavily taxed tea around the time of the Boston Tea Party so they started planting and drinking Bergamot which they discovered from the Oswego Indians.
Another great thing about Bergamot is that it is high in Vitamin A and C so it may be good for colds and soar throats. The Native Americans used it to treat nosebleeds, insomnia, stomach ache and fevers.
-Homegrown Tea by Cassie Liversidge
Nasturtium found its way into my tea garden to shade my violets which were about to die because I had put them in a full sun planter…oops. The flowers are a brilliant orange and yellow that really make my tea garden pop with color. I had a friend over to try the tea. I just placed the fresh flowers into hot water and let it steep for a few minutes. My friend really liked the tea, but I thought it needed a bit of honey to calm down the slightly spicy taste. The leaves of nasturtium smell exactly like cracked pepper. I did not try the leaves, but I have heard they are really good on salads so that might have to be my next experiment 🙂 I read online that nasturtium is packed with vitamin C so pick some up next time you are fighting a cold.
Recipe: Add 1/4 cup of fresh parsley into hot water and let it steep for 5 min. Then strain the leaves out and enjoy! I had read that it would be a bitter tea, but it really wasn’t that bad. It had a very earthy taste. Apparently, it is good for digestion but one shouldn’t have more than one cup in a day because of possible side effects.
So, if you want to use parsley as more than a garnish, try it as a tea!
I love the smell of lavender and it is a gorgeous flower, but I was seriously doubting whether or not the tea would be bland or just “off” tasting. I wanted to try the fresh version of the tea with no other added blends so that I would know exactly what lavender tea tasted like all by itself. For this first experiment from my garden, I called a friend over to taste test it with me. If you know me, you know I set the table up for a lady’s tea and had scones and strawberries for our little tea brunch. In each tea cup, I simply put hot water and then let about eight flowers steep for three minutes. -Lavender tea is AMAZING!!! We both agreed that it was beautiful and delicious. We tried it with a bit of honey as well and that was super tasty. Honestly, I can’t wait to have another cup!
- Calming & Relaxing
- Can help with insomnia
- Can fight the cold and cough symptoms
- Ease stomach problems
-Homegrown Tea by Cassie Liversidge
I bought both English and French Lavender, but the English died pretty quickly and the French took off and did really well. I cut the flower stems about two inches above the woody sprigs because it will not grow again if you cut into the woody sprigs. In the spring, one should prune the plant in the same way 🙂