Making herb tea

It’s easy to make your own herb teas, and you will be amazed at the taste. Much of the flavour comes from the volatile oils in the plant, and these are – as their name implies – volatile; easily lost in the drying process, and even more vulnerable to heat and light. By the time you put a herb teabag into a cup, the herbs inside are a shadow of their former selves.

You can make a tea with fresh herbs, but you need about three times as much herb, because of the high water content. If you want to dry flowers or leaves, pick them in the morning on a dry day, and spread them out on a clean cloth in an open airing cupboard if you have one, or perhaps on a slatted shelf above a lightbulb. Do not leave them in sunlight, or hanging in decorative bunches above the stove, where they will attract dust, grease and insects. They should be dry in two to three days; you can crumble them between your fingers, but the colour and smell are still good. Store them in brown paper bags or tea caddies, not sealed glass jars which trap moisture and allow light to degrade their contents.

Then, when you want a herb tea, put one or two teaspoonsful into a pot, add water that’s just off the boil, and let it steep for four or five minutes for maximum flavour. Strain out the herbs and put them in the compost, and enjoy a home brew that’s locally sourced, costs nothing and is good for you – and it tastes wonderful, too.

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