This post is written by our resident herbal expert and farm crew member Steven.
I've always had a bit of a penchant for the herbal kingdom. I consider herbs to be the characterizing factor of almost any dish. They are the flavors that you describe with wistful inflection, forcing you to pause and to savor. They are medicinal, unique, and pungent. The boxed-in realm of garnish alone sounds rather insulting when you really think about it. Whats fresh mozzarella and heirloom tomato without a fat green basil leaf anyway? What's a raw cabbage salad without generous portions of cooling, spicy dill? It's just not the same. In short, herbs are here to be incorporated...consumed....and celebrated. And!.....they are wonderful for summertime herbal teas! That's right friends...they are ripe for the drinking. This summer use your fresh and dried herbs from the garden, plus some simple added ingredients to create caffeine free herbal teas guaranteed to lift the spirit and beat the heat.
Notes on Brewing and Serving
I encourage everyone to be intrepid and playful while making and harvesting for tea. Experiment with what you have. Explore different ratios of concentration. Try new things. Let the herbals take center stage! These are just three of my own very favorite summer recipes that I think are quite good, and since it is so bloody hot, why not let the sun do the brewing?
- To sun brew place the herbs and water in a glass pitcher. Place, covered, in full sun, be sure that is a spot spot that will stay in intense summer sun for the time needed. Leave for 3-5 hours, depending on how concentrated you wish the flavor. Strain and chill before serving.
- To shock and awe your summer guests, or for a special treat to enjoy yourself, put a chamomile flower, a rose petal, or a sprig of lemon balm in your water filled ice-cube tray before freezing. They will be beside themselves with glee when the ice in their herbal refreshment is herbal as well.
- Have access to dry herbs but not fresh? These recipes work with dry herbs too, just keep in mind that you will need approximately half the amount in proportion to fresh ingredients. Without the moisture, dry plants shrink in size and become more concentrated.
Chamomile, Peppermint, Lavender
Fresh chamomile alone is an incredible flavor, but with the deep cooling notes of peppermint, and the dreamy floral charm of lavender you are truly good to go, or perhaps just sit very still. This one will certainly mellow your mood.
8 to 10 cups of water
2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lavender petals
3/4 cup fresh chamomile flowers
3/4 cup fresh mint leaves
Lemon Balm, Thai Basil, and Lime
The spice is right with Thai basil punching up the citrusy sweetness of lemon balm and lime. If you are feeling like adding a real kick add some ginger reduction and honey to the mix!
8 to 10 cups of water
1 1/2 to 2 cups fresh lemon balm
3/4 cup fresh Thai basil
2 fresh organic limes sliced and added to steep
Sacred Basil ( Holy Basil/Tulsi) , Orange Peel, and Rose
A daresay romantic blend of Tulsi "the queen of herbs" is sent over the top with a bit of orange peel and the intoxicating addition of rose petals from the garden. If you don't have any roses in your garden you mustn't despair. Rosewater can be found at many health food stores and can be used as a liquid substitute. Just add to taste as you would a sweetener.
8 to 10 cups of water
2 1/2 to 3 cups sacred basil
3/4 to 1 cup fresh rose petals
organic peel of 2 oranges sliced to steep
Well there you have it. Although these measurements are somewhat precise, they are by no means a rule. Overall, I kind of loathe the mathematical affiliation of precise measurements. I'm much happier eyeing it out so to speak. I feel that hand-fulls and dashes translate to the tea maker over time just as cleanly as cups and tablespoons. That being said, happy tea making seedy friends, and happy happy summer!
Irreplaceable, anise-inflected flavor found in Thai stir-fries. Try in rice rolls or on veggies.
Deliciously scented leaves promote longevity when brewed as tea.
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Take our advice: plant this herb to bring a bit of wisdom to your herb patch and flavor to your bouquet garni.
Keep those bugs away while you work!