Hot Stuff: Grow an Indoor Tea Garden
As the weather gets colder, the idea of curling up with a hot cup of tea sounds better and better. Wouldn’t it be cool if you could grow your own?
Well, you can! True tea – from the Camellia sinensis plant – can be grown in your garden if you live in a warm climate (zone 8 or warmer), or in a container in your home if you live in a cooler area. There’s just one catch, though: it’ll be three years before you can start harvesting leaves to make tea!
If you were hoping for a homegrown brew with a slightly faster turnaround, why not consider creating a windowsill herbal tea garden?
True, herbal teas aren’t “real” teas, but they’re still a great way to warm up on a chilly morning. Here’s how to get started:
- Select your herbs. Chamomile, lavender and peppermint are three common herbal tea ingredients that are easy to grow indoors. Coriander, lemon bergamot, lemon balm and jasmine are also popular tea herbs that can add interesting flavors and scents. Pretty much any culinary herb can be used in a tea; and many have medicinal qualities. Feel free to experiment by combining herbs to create your own custom tea blends (be sure to research each type of herb to make sure it won’t counteract with medication you may be taking.)
- Choose appropriate containers for each type of herb you’ve chosen. Plant seeds in a well-balanced soil, then water and place in a warm place until they sprout. Then move them to an area that gets at least 6 hours or so of sun per day, like a windowsill. Rotate plants often and check soil frequently to make sure it’s got the right moisture level for each plant.
- When plants are mature, you can harvest for tea! Here are two ways to prepare your tea:
- Fresh: Pick the herb’s leaves or flowers, then crush between your fingers to release the scent and flavor. Place 2 teaspoons of fresh herbs into a strainer or mesh tea ball, then steep in 8 ounces of hot water for 3-5 minutes.
- Dried: Dry the herbs, and store in airtight containers. Steep about 1 teaspoon of herbs per 8 ounces of water for 3-5 minutes.
Pour, sweeten with a little sugar or honey if you like, and sip! Congratulations, you’ve just made a hot, soothing drink from your very own tea garden.