I have a longtime love affair with tea. I distinctly remember indulging in a big mug of hot tea and bag of popcorn regularly in middle school. Oh, yes, my idea of a relaxing Friday night was an over sugared tea, popcorn I wouldn’t dare buy now, and whatever movie was playing on TBS’s Dinner and a Movie. (Anyone else having a theme music flashback? “Beans and cornbread…”)
My idea of a cozy night in really hasn’t changed that much. It’s the same thought process, just a different approach. I now opt for a splash of honey to sweeten my tea instead of an ungodly amount of sugar, and bagged popcorn hasn’t been in this house in years (there are some scary facts linked to the bag being coated in perfluorooctanoic acid chemical- a carcinogen). I can’t say I miss microwave popcorn at all. Stove popped organic popcorn has a much better taste. I am normally all set with just a little salt and pepper- no butter needed.
Cozy tea doesn’t have to be accompanied with a popcorn treat. It can strongly stand all on its own. I love that there is a tea for different needs: a restful night’s sleep, nausea, sore throat, calmness, etc. Being the nerds that we are, the idea of having beneficial herbs in our own backyard for making garden fresh tea really tickled our fancy.
The three teas we are currently brewing using garden fresh herbs are lemon balm, peppermint, and bee balm. Lavender and rosemary are other herbs that would contribute to a nice blend, especially with bee balm.
Lemon Balm– Soothes upset stomachs, provides mental clarity, aids in anxiety and insomnia, supports and protects the liver.
Lemon balm tea doesn’t just hold a number of amazing benefits for the mind and body. It also tastes fantastic. Hands down this is a new favorite for Ryan and I. It tastes like lemon water’s hot sister. Unfortunately, there are mixed reviews concerning the risk involved with consuming lemon balm during pregnancy. I spoke with my midwife about it, and she explained that there wasn’t enough research on it to say without doubt one way or the other. She gave it a green light for me, but to ensure lemon balm tea is safe for you if you are pregnant, speak with your healthcare provider.
Peppermint– Relieves coughing and a sore throat, clears bad breath, helps soothe upset stomachs, and boosts the immune system. Not to mention it can aid in weight loss and stress relief.
In my opinion, peppermint tea is the ultimate comfort tea. There’s nothing like curling up with a piping mug and letting the benefits of peppermint flood your system.
Bee Balm– Reduces bloating, alleviates cramps, acts as a sleep aid, and improves appetite.
I have not tried this tea since it is an herb that should be avoided by pregnant ladies. Ryan tells me it has a strong floral flavor with a hint of strong almost pepper-like spice. The floral taste comes from adding petals from a couple bee balm flowers. I’ll get my chance to try a hot cup of bee balm tea soon enough. It is one thriving herb here on our urban homestead, and the bees love it.
Brewing Garden Fresh Tea
Don’t fret thinking you have to take time for the leaves to dry. Tea from the garden can be made immediately after harvesting. Just follow these four easy steps:
Step One. Pick at least 1-2 tablespoons of herb leaves and rinse clean.
Step Two. Boil water
Step Three. Place the leaves in a tea infuser and rest in hot water. Let your garden fresh tea seep for several minutes. It’s ok to let it go longer. I tend to get sidetracked and let it go for 10-15 minutes.
(Optional Step.) Start the stovetop popcorn popping. Ya know, if you like that kind of thing.
Step Four. Pour your cup of tea or remove the infuser from your cup. Sweeten with a bit of honey (or sweetener of choice, if any) and enjoy.
If I could go back and drop a note to my middle school self, It would be to make garden fresh tea (avoiding questionable tea brands) and to step away from the sugar. I used more than I ever care to admit to. In all seriousness, garden fresh tea just tastes better. Knowing it’s organic and not paying a cent is just the cherry on top.