More On the Making of Herbal Teas: How to make and recipes

The Making of Teas

Herbal tea is a wonderful drink.

Not every having been much of a tea drinker and always interested in herbs and lotions and potions, about 10 or more years ago I started to regularly drink herbal tea. Don’t get me wrong – I have drunk the usual shop-bought herbal teas for most of my (adult) life. But I wanted something more.

I became tired of insipid watery drinks that people passed off as herbal tea – sometimes not much more than slightly coloured hot water. I wanted flavour. That took me on a journey of playing with fresh and dried ingredients to make the best herbal teas.

What is Herbal Tea?

It is an infusion made from herbs and spices. It may or may not contain a few tea leaves. There is some controversy about the use of the word tea as in some parts of the world,  tea refers exclusively to the leaves of the tea plant. Here, we use it as a term that implies infusion when preceded by herbal.

How to make a good Herbal Tea

I approach making herbal tea like making a stock – there are four main considerations:

1. ingredients that will provide the maximum and most pleasant flavours
2. fresh is best
3. a little bit of intuition about what combination of things will make excellent tea
4. access to ingredients.

I guess I started when I lived in Sydney, and had access easily to a great range of ingredients – both most excellent blends of herbs to be drunk on their own or mixed with others, and to fresh, dried, elemental herbs – things like red clover, beautiful yellow marigold leaves, a magnificent range of mints etc etc. In Adelaide that is SO so much harder.

So, these days, no longer in Sydney and only average blends available locally, I source some ingredients via the net, buy some whenever in Sydney, grow a lot myself. But it also taught me to look elsewhere, and I discovered all sorts of Asian things from the local Asian shops, and explored Persian shops, and Greek Shops, and realised that many dried ingredients can form the basis of teas.

Persian Flower for Tea

The General Tea Making Method

Start with ginger. Fresh as you can get it. It forms a fabulous basis for most teas and is amazingly good for you. (Don’t use powdered ginger for a basis. It is Ok to add a pinch of powdered ginger to a tea, but it is a very different flavour to fresh ginger.)

Depending on the pot, put in 2 – 10 slices of ginger.

Add other ingredients depending on your mood.

Add water boiled to about 95C, or just under boiling.

Wait 3 – 5 minutes and pour. Please DO NOT seep for 10 minutes as you will often be told, unless you have hard woody ingredients such as dandelion root.

You can fill the pot again and again with boiling water without need to refresh the ingredients.

The Simplest and Most Beautiful Tea

My best simple basic tea is ginger alone or ginger with fresh lemon grass (or freshly dried lemongrass). Add kaffir lime leaves (1 or 2) if you have them. Delicious. I discovered this tea in Bali!

Using Herbs

Start with ginger (fresh) and build up your repertoire from there. Add any dried herb – rosemary is good, small amounts of thyme, even a sprig of parsley is surprising excellent. Lots of mint. I mean LOTS of mint is good. Lemongrass. Kaffir Lime leaves. Even fresh orange peel and fresh or dried mandarin skins are great in teas. A slice of fresh lemon.

It was a surprise to me initially that herbs we think of as “savoury” ie would not be good in teas, really work well – parsley, rosemary, basil, for example. Just keep their proportion smaller than other ingredients. (But on reflection, basil is GREAT in fruit salads, so why would it not be great in tea?)

Using Dried Herbs

If you have access to good range of freshly dried herbs, roots and flowers, grab a range of them and keep them on hand to add a teaspoon here, a teaspoon there. Above all, avoid those dried things that look like they were dried before the Ark sailed! Fresh is best. Let me say that again. Fresh is best. That can mean freshly dried herbs.

Clove for Tea

Adding Spices

Spices that go well are saffron, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, a couple of black pepper corns (yes, really) nutmeg, star anise and cinnamon etc. If you have them growing, add their leaves to the tea pot.

Dried liquorish root is also great.

Dried Hawthorn Tea

Go Asian

Vary your teas by adding dried red dates from the Chinese Market, or those little dried rose buds. Try dried hawthorn and dried honesuckle. You will find a whole range of exotic tea ingredients in South East Asian, Chinese and Oriental food shops.

You can add genmachi, the Japanese popped rice tea, or roobos the South African root. You can even add a pinch of black or green tea. Don’t use white tea here – it is too expensive to drink this way and its taste too subtle to really add flavour. Drink white tea on its own.

Rosebud TeaFind a good supplier of freshly dried, organically grown herbs and spices.

They will be a god-send to you.

Dried Honeysuckle TeaThen go Wild!

Develop your sense of what makes a good tea for you. Experiment.

My place is so well known for its teas, and my visitors expect nothing else. No coffee (although i drink it once or twice per day) or alcohol. They just want TEA.

Today my tea was simple – fresh ginger, kaffir lime, cardamom leaf, parsley leaf, and mint – all from my balcony pot garden except for the ginger which was from an organic shop. Added my Favourite Special Honey which I keep only for tea making. I am on my second pot already!

Drink! Play! Enjoy!


This post was updated on 22nd December, 2013

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About Ganga108

Heat in the Kitchen, Cooking with Spirit. Temple junkie, temple builder, temple cleaner. Lover of life, people, cultures, travel. Champion of growth, change and awareness. Taker of photos. Passionate about family. Happy.
This entry was posted in Spices and Herbs, Teas - Drinks - other liquids, Tips and Techniques, VEGETARIAN and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to More On the Making of Herbal Teas: How to make and recipes

  1. Lucy says:

    What a gorgeous post.

    So many ideas in here – marvellous. I do love a slice of fresh, young ginger steeped in hot water.

    Bookmarking this. Thanks.

  2. VegeYum says:

    Aah, Lucy, thank you so much! Its good to find another herbal tea lover (and ginger tea lover!).

  3. Asha says:

    Beautiful post. I love Assam and Darjeeling tea!:)

  4. Thank you for visiting my blog and that brought me to your beautiful blog.
    Loved – absolutely – this post on teas. I have only recently found an deeper appreciation for teas; when visiting a friend in Austria, he went out into the garden, cut a few herbs and made the most delicious of teas! That converted me to teas! :-))
    This is wonderful post and is inspiring me to learn more about teas.
    Keep up the great work.

  5. VegeYum says:

    Hi Arun, I LOVE your post on Almond Pista Milk with Saffron. I will add a link to it on my Saffron Tea page.

    Yes, it is amazing to pick a cup of tea! I am glad that your friend introduced you to it.

  6. VegeYum says:

    Hi Asha, so glad you like the post. Happy Diwali to you and your family.

  7. bee says:

    what a great, educative post. perfect for a tea lover like me. my favourite spice combo for tea is ginger and lemongrass.

  8. shivapriya says:

    What a wonderful post. I’m learning a lot from you Vegeyum. I had herbal tea’s few times in Tevana. I sometimes make Ginger n honey T at home.
    Happy Diwali Dear.

  9. Suganya says:

    Awesome post. Love all the pics, particularly the first one, for its colour and light & shadows. Adding fresh orange peel sometimes makes tea bitter. I cannot convince myself to try again.

  10. VegeYum says:

    Hi bee and sivapriya, thanks for your lovely comments and Dewali wishes. Ginger is such a good basis for tea. MMMmmm think I will make one now.

    Hi Suganya, yes the white pith of orange peel will make anything bitter – teas, cakes, juices (if you juice the whole orange in a juicer). So the trick is to only use the orange part of the peel . Either use a sharp knife to shave some off, or one of those instruments that makes really fine parings of the peel. No white makes it right :-).

    Mandarin peel does not suffer from the same problem – you can use it as it is. Lemon peel has a little bit of bitterness to it but not as pronounced and so I never worry about avoiding the pith there.

    I am glad that you like the first shot – this is what the bottom of my tea pot often looks like!

  11. nora says:

    Lots of good information here for the beginning tea drinkers. Imagination is the limit. Right now I would love to have a cup ….rather a pot…. of rooibos tea…. Since that is hard to find, I will sip warming fresh ginger sweetened with a little palm sugar. :)

  12. Kalyn says:

    What a great post on making herbal teas! I learned a lot. Your idea of using ginger as a base sounds wonderful to me.

  13. VegeYum says:

    Hi nora – yes, tea at the speed of imagination. I like that thought. Glad u love ginger and palm sugar. Nice combination!

    Kalyn, thank you so much. Try the ginger – so healthy too.

  14. Suganya says:

    That helps. Will try the next time.

  15. Got to the page real quick…thanks for the link. Am not a tea drinker, but DH is. What a great post with such a lot put in…love the way you built it up from scratch! These days am giving the DH ginger tea with fresh ginger + fresh tulsi leaves (Indian basil) + honey to try and cure his horrid cough!I tried adding it to my ginger post as a ‘Witch’s brew’ & I think that’s why it refused to show up!! Hmmmmmmmmmmm…:0)

  16. VegeYum says:

    Hmm, Passionate baker, methinks that ginger AND tulsi will cure him very quickly. Love them both. Tulsi tea is just lovely.

  17. Anita says:

    And you can make great tea with rose hips too!

  18. VegeYum says:

    Hi Anita, I put your links into the post itself; your posts are great. Love the chilli shaped rose hips.

  19. Ginny says:

    Wonderful! I love ginger! and tea! Will need to make ginger tea! Thank you! A beautiful post!

    So glad that I could introduce you to a new drinking sensation! Thanks for your comments Ginny.

  20. Christine says:

    Thank you for such a wonderful posts. Your pics are beautiful! I learned so much and I am going to have to try the ginger tea!

    Hi Christine, Thanks for coming – a coffee gal to a tea post. Let me know how the ginger tea goes. You might get a laugh out of what I did in Cambodia when I could not get a good cup of coffee or tea.

  21. Fit to a Tea says:

    Thanks a ton for the helpful posts and pictures. I’ve been making my own tea for awhile now and your tips provided extra help. Keep up the good work!

    Thanks! Keep up the tea making….

  22. Your recipe sparks my interest. I will have to try it. Since you mentioned a desire for flavor I’ll suggest my favorite. You should try white licorice tea. You can find out all about it on my blog.

  23. Mike Jay says:

    I like White Ginger Tea. I get double benefits, that of ginger and of white tea.

  24. kempozone says:

    Im sure many of you are like me and one of the first things you do in the morning is head here and check out the new post. Along with seeing the new posts, I’m also always checking out the blog roll rss feed and watching them grow, or shrink sometimes. In one of my past …but all in all excellent site. Keep it up!

  25. Donnieboy says:

    Just wanted to drop you a line to say, I enjoy reading your site. I thought about starting a blog myself but don’t have the time.
    Oh well maybe one day…. :)

  26. Victoria says:

    It is so tasty just when smelling!Unfortunately I can’t take it immediately.It is OK if there is such a food plaza.

  27. Herbal Tea says:

    It is confirmed that herbs are great medicines for human body and a wonderful way to unlock the medicinal qualities through herbal tea .

  28. Dixie says:

    I find myself coming to your blog more and more often to the point where my visits are almost daily now!

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