tea making herbs

20 Tea-Making Herbs For For Your Health and Comfort

I have used herbs for tea for as long as I have been growing my own gardens. The first was, of course, spearmint and after I had tasted a pot of freshly picked spearmint tea, I was hooked. Over the years, I have experimented with a wide variety of different plants to make herbal teas. What follows is a brief history of the plants I have used.

As a personal note – when Mayo and I met, she owned an organic seed and plant company and was growing over 200 pots of Stevia in her upstairs hallway (which was flooded with light from a massive window). That was one small sign we had a future together.

How Much Of The Herb Do I Need To Make A Cup Of Tea?

There are few guidelines available for how much of any herb to use when making a cup of herb tea.

I suggest you start with a teaspoon and modify it by adding or reducing the amount of herbs in a cup of hot water. It will only be by experimenting that you will discover how much of each herb for tea you enjoy.

Note: I start out with boiling water – anything cooler and you won’t get the full flavor. Plus I suggest you experiment to find the best length of time to allow your herbs to steep.

The other factor in using your own herbs for tea is how large your cup is. In my case, I have rather large mugs that Mayo makes in her pottery studio. These hold between four and five liquid cups of tea.

Blending Your Own Herbal Teas

If you wander the aisles of any store selling herb teas, you’ll quickly find there are “blends” of herb teas.

I can’t think of a single reason why you can’t experiment with the same things.

The simplest way is to take a look at the herbs in your own favorite blend and begin to experiment with your own herbs until you’ve found one that’s close to or better than the original package.

Other than that, I’d suggest that mint can be worked into any blend but carefully because mint can quickly overpower gentler herbs.

Having said that, it really is up to your own taste buds.

Cautions About Using Herbs For Tea

Please understand that herbs often have very powerful effects on the human body. And so, it is always smart to consult your physician before launching off in a new direction with any herbal product.

This is particularly true when using your own herbs for tea because of the different strengths of the herb when grown under different conditions in different gardens. There is no one size fits all with the amount of active ingredient in herb plants.

Caution: this is particularly true if you are pregnant or nursing.

Herbal Uses

I have added some notes about other uses for the different herbs. The note above suggesting you discuss any herbal use with your physician is to be taken seriously, and it is for this reason that I have added some of these other uses.

In other words, the herb may taste good when you drink it, but there may be some other effects you should take into consideration.

Storing Herbs

The rule of thumb for storing any herbal product is to keep it cool and dry.

I tend to use old glass sealer jars because they keep the herbs dry and frankly, I happen to like the look of them

1: Anise-Hyssop

  • Sun: full
  • Height: 36-inches/1m
  • Plant Apart: 24 inches/60cm (it spreads)
  • Hardiness: USDA 3-4
  • Comments: Both the leaves and the flowers can be used to make tea.

Uses

  • To strengthen a weak heart.
  • An anti-viral that may work against Herpes simplex.
  • As a poultice to treat burns.
  • Added in water to ease the itchiness of poison ivy.
  • To prevent colds.
  • To strengthen the lungs, and treat respiratory infections.
  • A cough suppressant.
  • To treat diarrhea.
  • As an ornamental flower in your garden.

Having said all that, Anise hyssop tastes like licorice in a tea.

2: Basil

  • Sun: full sun
  • Height: 12-18 inches, 30cm-45cm
  • Plant Apart: 18 inches, 45cm
  • Hardiness: frost tender.
  • Comments: If you regularly harvest the leaves from the growing tips, this plant will continue to develop new branches and produce large harvests. Do not allow it to set flowers for the biggest harvest of leaves.

Uses

  • stomach spasms,
  • loss of appetite,
  • intestinal gas,
  • kidney conditions,
  • fluid retention,
  • head colds,
  • warts,
  • worm infections
  • treat snake and insect bites

3: Bergamot

  • Sun: full sun to very light shade
  • Height: 36-inches/1m
  • Plant Apart: 24 inches/60cm (it spreads very quickly and can become invasive.)
  • Hardiness: USDA 4
  • Comments: Do not confuse this plant with the Bergamot Orange. The orange is used to flavor Earl Grey tea and this herbaceous perennial plant is not. The fragrance of the leaves does however resemble the smell of the orange.  It is a lovely ornamental (caution invasive) and all varieties can be used for tea.

Uses

  • Induces perspiration,
  • Lowers fevers,
  • Aids digestion.
  • Headaches,
  • Flatulence,
  • Reduces Nausea and vomiting.

4: Borage

  • Sun: full sun
  • Height: 36 inches/1M
  • Plant Apart: 36 inches/1M
  • Hardiness: tender annual
  • Comments: Lovely blue flowers and can be appreciated as an annual. Note the leaves are “prickly”  The flowers can be “candied”..

Uses

  • Diuretic,
  • Demulcent
  • Emollient
  • Reduces Fevers and pulmonary complaints.
  • Promotes kidney function

5: Catnip

  • Sun: full sun to light shade
  • Height: 18-24-inches 45-60cm
  • Plant Apart: 24-36-inches/ 60-90cm
  • Hardiness: USDA 4
  • Comments: Easily grown (except in clay) and quite ornamental. Note that if you do not bruise the leaves to release the fragrance, cats will mostly ignore this plant. But once you begin harvesting – your cats will love to roll around in the plant. 

Uses

  • Sedative (calming)
  • Digestive disorders
  • Relieves headaches
  • Relieves insomnia

6: Chamomile

  • Sun: Full sun
  • Height: 6 inches/15cm
  • Plant Apart: 24 inches/60cm
  • Hardiness: Annual or Perennial to USDA 4
  • Comments: the tea is made from the flowers rather than the leaves.

There are three different plants referred to by the common name Chamomile 

  • Chamaemelum nobile, formerly Anthemis nobilis (Chamomile) is used medicinally and is perennial. Also known as English Chamomile or Roman Chamomile
  • Matricaria chamomilla (German Chamomile) An annual flowering plant this plant has a very long and storied history of medicinal use.
  • Anthemis cotula (Stinking Chamomile) is an annual and has a very powerful smell – so you may not want to drink this one.

Uses

  • Calming
  • Promotes sleep
  • General tonic
  • Earache
  • Neuralgic pain
  • Stomach disorders
  • Flatulence

7: Cilantro

The naming of this plant is confusing to some folks. The real name is Coriander sativum. Sometimes referred to as Chinese parsley.

  • Sun: full sun
  • Height: 20-inches/50cm
  • Plant Apart: 20-inches/50cm
  • Hardiness: Annual
  • Comments: There’s a genetic link to those who like the taste (tart and lemony) and those who detest it and think it tastes like soap.

Uses

  • Cooking
  • Trap crop for some pests of lettuce
  • Indigestion
  • Carminative,
  • Sedative
  • Tonic
  • Earache
  • Neuralgic pain

8: Fennel

  • Sun: Full to light shade
  • Height: 4-5 feet/120-150cm
  • Plant Apart: 2 feet / 60cm
  • Hardiness: USDA 4
  • Comments: Needs well-drained soils to survive winter. In contrast, it does not want to dry out during the growing season. Cut flower stems down to obtain more leaves. Or encourage multiple flower stems by cutting the tips off growing stems.

Uses

  • Flavoring of purgatives
  • Flavors for cooking
  • Relieve chronic coughing
  • Carminative

9: Ginger

  • Sun: Full sun
  • Height: 3-4ft/1m
  • Plant Apart: 24-36 inches/ 60cm-1m
  • Hardiness: Annual or Tropical plant. Usually in soils with consistent moisture.
  • Comments: Quite an attractive flowering plant. It does require a great deal of warmth to grow well. The rhizome (root) is dug and used.

Uses:

  • Fights nausea and vomiting
  • Morning sickness
  • Diarrhea
  • Pain relief
  • Respiratory tract infections
  • Migraine headaches
  • Treating burns (fresh juice)

10: Lavender

  • Sun: Full
  • Height: 18-24 inches, 45-60cm
  • Plant Apart: 24-inches, 60cm
  • Hardiness: USDA 5 consistently – 4 if protected
  • Comments: Needs consistent pruning to maintain. Won’t survive in clay soils.
  • I wrote an ebook about Lavender.

Uses

  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Headache
  • Antibacterial and antifungal

11: Lemon Balm

  • Sun: Full sun to very light shade
  • Height: 24-inche
  • Plant Apart: 24-inches
  • Hardiness: USDA 4
  • Comments: Easily grown – a member of mint family. Distinctively lemon taste (some folks don’t like it as it’s not a clear lemon taste)

Uses

  • Digestive problems
  • Bloating
  • Flatulence
  • Colic
  • Headache and toothache
  • Relieve mental disorders – hysteria.

12: Lemon Verbena

  • Sun: Full sun
  • Height: This is a shrub – 6ft tall or 2m
  • Plant Apart:
  • Hardiness: USDA 7-8
  • Comments: Easy container plant but give it a very large pot and never allow it to freeze

Uses

  • Digestive disorders
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Insomnia
  • Fever
  • Varicose Veins
  • Possible insecticide action – mites

13: Marjoram

  • Sun: full sun or very light shade
  • Height: 12-18 inches/ 30-45 cm
  • Plant Apart: 12-inches/30cm
  • Hardiness: USDA 7 with heavy mulch.
  • Comments: slow growing so northern gardeners should grow in containers and overwinter to get a harvest

Uses

  • Relieve symptoms of colds
  • Stop coughs
  • Eases symptoms of menopause
  • Promotes flow of breast milk
  • Diabetes
  • Enhances sleep
  • Headaches
  • Back pain
  • Liver problems
  • Stomach gas and cramps.

14: Mint

  • Sun: full
  • Height: 18-24 inches 45-60 cm
  • Plant Apart: 18-inches
  • Hardiness: USDA 4
  • Comments: This is a rampant spreader in the garden. But it is also one of the best plants to combine with other herbs.
    Important: some of the seed grown plants at discount garden centers can be harsh and “hot” rather than the cool flavor of better varieties

Uses

  • Diarrhea
  • Cramps
  • Menstrual problems
  • Astringent
  • Stimulant

16: Rosemary

  • Sun: full hot sun
  • Height: 3-feet or 1m
  • Plant Apart: 2-3 feet – 65cm-1m
  • Hardiness: USDA 8
  • Comments: Anything colder – grow in containers and bring indoors for winter.

Uses

  • Digestive problems: heartburn, gas
  • Liver and gallbladder issues
  • Loss of appetite
  • Gout
  • Coughing
  • Headaches
  • High blood pressure
  • Reducing age-related memory loss

17: Rose Hips

  • Sun: Full
  • Height: 5-7 feet, 1.5m-2m
  • Plant Apart: 5ft, 1.5 m
  • Hardiness: USDA 4
  • Comments: Rose hips are the seed pods of roses. Technically, Rosa canina is the rose used by most commercial growers. You do need to dry them thoroughly before crushing and using for herbal teas

Uses

  • Source of Vitamin C
  • Lessen pain of osteoarthritis
  • Alternative to anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Back pain

18: Sage

  • Sun: full
  • Height:
  • Plant Apart: 18-24 inches, 45-60cm
  • Hardiness: USDA 5
  • Comments: Easy to grow but keep thinned out or you may have a mildew problem. Prune regularly to keep young growth coming along. Without that pruning, the plant will become woody and production will decrease.

Uses

  • Digestive problems
  • Flatulence
  • Loss of appetite
  • Depression
  • Memory loss
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Applied directly to skin for cold sores, gingivitis.

19: Stevia

  • Sun: full sun
  • Height: 18-inches 45cm Can reach 36inches or 1m in the garden
  • Plant Apart: 18-24 inches 45-60cm
  • Hardiness: USDA 9
  • Comments: Tender shrub but can be easily grown in containers. Note it doesn’t like to be overwatered but it can’t dry out either so you’ll have to watch your watering during the winter when it’s resting. Again, as with many shrubby plants, you’ll have to keep pruning it to keep it growing tender shoots. Strip leaves off pruned branches for use.

Uses

  • Sweetener
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Heartburn
  • Weight loss
  • Stimulate heart rate

20: Thyme

  • Sun: full sun
  • Height: 2-3 inches, 5-7cm
  • Plant Apart: 24-inches, 60cm
  • Hardiness: USDA 4
  • Comments: Easy to grow in full sun. It wants perfect drainage so clay soils won’t support it over the winter. Prune after the last spring frost to encourage new growth – cut it back up to 1/3 of its height. But do not cut below the new growth leaving bare stems – it will not resprout from old wood.

Uses

  • Bronchitis
  • Whooping cough
  • Sore throat
  • Colic
  • Arthritis
  • Upset stomach
  • Diarrhea
  • Flatulence
  • Parasitic worm infections
  • Diuretic
  • Appetite stimulant

If you’d like more help growing herbs, click here.

You can read other posts about herb gardening right here

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

error: Content is protected !!