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How to Grow a Tea Garden

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How to grow your a tea garden, for tea, cooking, and health out of your backyard!
This guide will help you choose flowers and herbs that will be perfect for your next cup of tea. These homemade tea blends also make fantastic gifts!
The flowers will also help attract pollinators like butterflies and bees…
So what are you waiting for?!

Find Your Perfect Spot

The first thing to consider if you want to know how to grow a tea garden is how much light you have available. You’ll need a sunny location to grow these flowers.
Full sun is recommended for flowers because while the plant will survive in partial sun or shade, it will not produce many flowers.
I’ve made this mistake in the past by planting lavender in shady spot in my garden. It’s still alive, but doesn’t produce as many flowers as I’d like.
This is a good general rule you should keep in mind for growing any fruit or vegetable as well.
The more light it gets, the more it will produce for you.
If you only have access to a shady patio you can still grow these herbs, but you will have a smaller harvest of flowers.
For teas that use leaves like Mint, Echinacea, Basil, or mother wort, shade isn’t an issue.

Colorful bee balm in colors ranging from hot pink to indigo growing thickly
Bee Balm aka Bergamot.
Both the Flowers and leaves are edible. The leaves have a mild mint herbal flavor while the flowers are sweet. Cook or make tea with this flavorful herb.

Picking the Perfect Plants

There are many herbs and flowers you can make into herbal tea. All the different herbs have different properties, with different health benefits and flavors.
I personally love growing perennial herbs and flowers if I can to help me save money in the future. You plant it once, and you’ll have tea and herbs for years to come.
That being said, many annuals will reseed itself year after year if you allow it to. Chamomile is a great example, if you leave a few of the flowers rather than harvesting the whole plant it can reseed. In the spring you’ll find many baby Chamomile plants.

Below are a list of perennial herbs that will come back year after year that are perfect for your tea garden. You can grow all of these in containers, but they will really thrive being planted in the ground- in a sunny spot.
You may be familiar with some of these herbs from cooking with them- they are also fantastic in tea.

Lavender and echinacea next to a bowl of flower petals for tea
Lavender and Echinacea
Both are best suited for teas

Note that I didn’t include Chamomile in with the Perennial Teas. While it is a staple herb that should be included in every tea garden, it will need to be replanted every year. Because of this I’ve found they do great in containers whereas planting your perennial herbs in the ground is the best for deep root systems. Theoretically it will reseed itself for next year, but I haven’t had that success myself yet.

Perennial Herbs and Flowers For Tea

Echinacea Boosts Immune SystemLight Floral
LavenderReduces Cortisol, Improves Mood, RelaxationStrong Floral
Cat Mint (Cat Nip)Improves Insomnia, RelaxationLight Mint
PeppermintImproves Digestion, Heartburn, NauseaVery Minty
Anise HyssopRed Blood Cell Health, Respiratory Health, Relieves CongestionMild Licorice
Bee Balm (Bergamont)Antibacterial, Antifungal, Improves IndigestionLeaves are Lightly Minty Herbal, Flowers are Sweet
RosemaryBoost memory, Improve Mood, Reduce Inflammation, Relieve Pain, Prevents Cancer and Alzheimer’sHerbal, Piney and Minty Notes
ThymeLowers Blood Pressure, Relieves Cough, Boosts Immue System Herbal, Sweet, Earthy
FennelAids in Digestion, Improves Skin, Lowers Blood Pressure, Helps Prevent CancerHerbal, Mild Licorice, Sweet
Lemon BalmRelieves Stress and Anxiety, Boosts Cognitive Function, Improves SleepHerbal, Citrus Notes
Growing Zones 5-9 (varies)

Foraging for Tea

Don’t want to garden? Try Foraging for tea!
Teas you can Forage include, but not limited to

Rose Petals/ Rose Hips
Dandelion Flowers
Motherwort leaves and flowers
Raspberry Leaves
Creeping Charlie or Ground Ivy
Stinging Nettle
Spruce Tips

A bowl of dandelion flowers sitting in grass next to more dandelions
Dandelion flowers make fantastic tea and syrups.
The greens are even more nutrient dense than kale- try them in a salad.

I’ll go into more detail for another post if you want to learn more about foraging tea.
I’m including this list to help you dip your toes into the idea of foraging. (Which I like to think of as “Treasure Hunting While Hiking”).
If you confidently come across one of these plants and you want to make tea with it, make sure it was grown in an area away from pesticides!

Harvesting Rose Petals in a with bowl for rose tea
Colored roes petals will have more flavor than white or cream ones.
They are fantastic in tea, jams, or made into rose water.

Planting and Growing Your Herbs

If you are gardening out of a patio then grow your herbs in a potting soil and try out vertical gardening or growing them out of pots.
If you have a space to put in a garden, try to pick out a full sun space.
Analyze your soil; how is the drainage, moisture, and are there already plants growing in the spot you want to plant?
If you already have native plants growing where you want to put your garden- that’s a good sign. The soil may not need much to remedy it. The better your soil, the happier and bigger your plants.
I’m in Colorado, where there is a lot of clay soil. Meaning the drainage is low (hello low porosity!) and there isn’t much for nutrients in the soil.
There are a few options to fix this. One is to dig up your existing soil and then add a mixture of peat moss and compost. The peat moss is a clay soil’s best friend- it helps retain moisture while helping improve the drainage. Peat moss is low in nutrients however, so I try to balance it out with compost.
Another option is to buy in ground soil mix that you can mix into your ground soil. I find this to be more expensive, but it is quite efficient. Another option is to do the same thing with potting mix! I did this in one of my garden beds since potting mix was on sale.
Space your plants out at least 3-5 feet apart from each other, considering their size when they are full grown. Lavender and peppermint at mature height will be about 1-2 feet tall and wide. Whereas Anise Hyssop and Rosemary will be about 2-4 feet tall and wide.

How to Prepare your Tea

Harvest your herbs towards the end of the season after they’ve had plenty of time to grow. Trim off the leaves or flower petals and let them dry in a dark place. Allowing them to dry in the sun will destroy their phytonutrients and reduce the effects of the health benefits- and flavor.
To speed things up use a dehydrator at a low temp for a few hours, near 95 degrees.

Alternatively, you can harvest your herbs as you want or need them. If you make tea using fresh herbs you will want to increase the amount used. I personally prefer to make my tea this way. All fruits, vegetables, and herbs start to lose vitamins as soon as you pick them. They will be the most nutrient dense as soon as you pick/harvest them.
There is nothing I love more than stepping into my garden, harvesting fresh herbs and cooking with them immediately. Why harvest in bulk when you can harvest a few leaves at a time, as you need them? Up until your frost of course!

Creating a Tea Blend

A glass tea pot filled with floral tea with a poured cup of tea next to it

There are numerous blends you can make with your tea. Be mindful that some herbs have a different brewing time than others. Since all of these teas will have little to no tannins, if you over brew your tea it can become bitter. Look up the brew times for the herbs you want to use and set the time for the herb that needs the shortest brew time. The other herbs will not be as strong, but if you over-brew one of the herbs it can ruin a tea.

I also like to make tea blends based off what benefits I want from the tea rather than just going off the flavors. Sometimes I’ll make tea using the herbs that are the most plentiful at the moment.

If you enjoyed these tea recipes be sure to check out my Beautifying Mermaid Mint Iced Tea. It uses herbs that can be grown in your herb garden with only one imported special flower. Pea Flowers from Thailand make the tea a gorgeous blue hue- turning pink if you add lemon. It’s great for skin health and helps reduce inflammation!

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By on August 15th, 2020

About Jessica Flowers

Jess Flowers is a multimedia specialist who creates vegan recipes using local and wild ingredients. Being plant based for over a decade, it is her mission to share delicious recipes that are made without animal products!

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