Herbs for Teas


| June/July 1998

  • Teas to please: Choose your flavors, right from the garden and kitchen cupboard.
    Illustration by Susan Strawn Bailey
  • Teas to please: Choose your flavors, right from the garden and kitchen cupboard.
    Photograph by Joe Coca
  • Bee balm
    Photograph by J. G. Strauch, Jr.
  • German chamomile
    Photograph by J. G. Strauch, Jr.
  • Anise hyssop
    Photograph by J. G. Strauch, Jr.
  • Teas to please: Choose your flavors, right from the garden and kitchen cupboard.

Fruity, spicy, or aromatic, herbal teas warm the body and soothe the spirit. About ten years ago, I turned to herbal teas when drinking even modest amounts of coffee began to make me twitch. My wake-up call became a bold cup of Red Zinger, which finessed rather than ­jolted me into the day. Since then, I’ve made the easy, economical, and enjoyable transition from buying herb tea to growing my own.

Many of the best tea herbs, such as bee balm, mints, German chamomile, anise hyssop, and lemon balm, are also beautiful garden plants. Tending a bed or border devoted to these herbs can be as calming and soothing after a stressful day as a cup of the steaming brew or a tall glass of iced tea made from their leaves and flowers.

Growing your own tea herbs, you’re in charge of quality control. You can harvest the leaves when they’re at their peak of flavor, usually just as they come into flower. Many tea herbs can be dried for winter use; storing them in closed jars in a cool, dark place guards against flavor loss. By growing your own, you also can ensure that they haven’t been treated with toxic chemicals or adulterated with flavorless or inedible weeds.

Indispensable Tea Herbs

I like herbal teas that smell intriguing and taste as good as their fragrance promises. The following herbs, which grow well throughout much of the United States, are some of the best for both flavor and fragrance. Separately or in combination, they yield a bevy of delightful beverages.



Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum)

If you like licorice, you’ll love anise hyssop’s fresh, eye-opening flavor and fragrance; good by itself, it’s even better when blended with peppermint. Anise hyssop is a graceful vase-shaped perennial that grows 3 feet or taller and blooms the first year from seed. Its fat spikes of minute, two-lipped purple-blue flowers bloom from midsummer into fall, attracting hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees. ‘Alba’ (‘Alabaster’) is a white-flowered cultivar.

Provide full sun and average soil. Sow seeds indoors in the spring or in the garden after the last frost. Whether you buy plants or start them from seed, you’ll have plenty of self-sown seedlings next spring. Easy to recognize by their purplish, licorice-scented leaves, they are easily transplanted.



Subscribe today and save 58%

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living !

Mother Earth LivingWelcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $19.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $24.95.




Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter

Free Product Information Classifieds