How to Make Herbal Teas

An infusion of herbs and spices, to temper your day.

Herbal Teas

Herbal tea is a wonderful drink. Not having been much of a tea drinker yet always interested in herbs and lotions and potions, some time ago I started to regularly drink herbal tea. The truth is, you can make much more flavoursome teas than with shop bought herbal teas. I still enjoy playing with fresh and dried ingredients to make the great and unusual teas.

The Making of TeasHerbal Tea is an infusion made from herbs and spices. It may or may not contain a some true tea leaves. There is some controversy about the use of the word tea as in some parts of the world where tea refers exclusively to the leaves of the tea plant. Here, we use it as a term that implies infusion.

How to make a good Herbal Tea

There are four main considerations when making herbal tea:

  1. choose 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.

When I lived in Sydney, there was easy access 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 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 Fresh 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, cumin, 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 liquorice root is also great.

Dried Hawthorn Tea

Go Asian and Middle Eastern

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

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

They will be a god-send to you.

Dried Honeysuckle Tea

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 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. I am on my second pot already!

Browse all of our tea suggestions here and here.

This is cross posted with our sister site, Heat in The Kitchen. It appears there as part of the How To series.

Author: 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.

28 thoughts on “How to Make Herbal Teas”

  1. 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.

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  2. 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.
    Arun

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  3. 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.

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  4. 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.

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  5. 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 rightπŸ™‚.

    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!

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  6. VegeYum,
    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. πŸ™‚

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  7. 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.

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  8. 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)

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  9. 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.

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  10. 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.

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  11. 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….

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  12. 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.

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  13. 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!

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  14. 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…. πŸ™‚

    Like

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