Sunday, September 8, 2013

Herbal Tea - Storing and Drinking

Life has been chaotic for me lately. Not very busy, just turbulent. So I have spent my time online with relaxing things like netflix, fanfiction and polyvore... But I'll try to get out that second post about herbal teas now. Summer and herbal tea harvest season is over here, but maybe where you are summer is still in full swing and you can have some use for this post. Otherwise I guess there is always next year! ;)

Read part one about harvesting and drying herbs here. This second post will largely be photos of tea and a bit of information about what plants are good for tea. But first a bit about storing your dried herbs.

Here is most of my harvest. Each herb in its own jar. I use both ordinary glass jars and metal tea jars, with various types of lids. Air tight lids are supposedly best, but I use whatever I can find. It might be tempting to store the pretty herbs in glass jars where they are visible, but they stay good for longer if stored in darkness. The herbs should not be crushed to pieces. They retain much more flavor if stored whole. I write the name of the herb as well as the year of harvest on the lid so that I can be sure how old that particular herb is.

White clover flowers.
Rose petals.
Fireweed (Chamerion angustifolium), leaves and flowers.
Yarrow, leaves and flowers.
Pansies and violets.
I have made a few herbal blends but I prefer to store each herb on its own. This doesn't stop me from drinking blends. I usually choose a blend of several different herbs (whole) to put in my cup before adding hot water and a bit of honey. Here are some pictures of pretty and tasty herbal teas!

White clover flower tea. This is a herbal tea for the beginner! The taste is very sweet and almost a bit honey like even without sweetener. The flowers even look very pretty!
Lady's mantle leaf tea (Alchemilla Vulgaris). I really like these leaves, they taste quite sweet and look very pretty.
Rowan leaf tea. Not quite as sweet as white clover or lady's mantle but still a pleasant mild herbal tea.
Fireweed leaves and flowers.
Fireweed tea (leaves and flowers). This is one of the prettiest of herbal teas! The milky color is just gorgeous and the flowers turn from dark purple-blue to sheer and delicate white in the hot water! Tastes very good too. fresher and greener than white clover or lady's mantle.
Hibiscus flower tea. Rather cool purple color isn't it? Doesn't taste very much or very good though. 
Meadowsweet flowers and leaves (Filipendula ulmaria).
Meadowsweet flower and leaf tea. I have always loved the sweet, almond like, scent of this plant and that scent translates into taste too! The taste is sweet with an almond undertone, absolutely delicious! And don't they look pretty!
Pansy flower and yarrow leaf.
Pansy flower and yarrow leaf tea. These yellow pansy flowers give the tea an intense yellow color but the taste is quite subtle and frankly not very interesting. I am more fond of the stong herbal taste of yarrow but yarrow tea isn't very pretty... So the combination of pansy and yarrow gives both mouth and eyes pleasure.
Orange pansy and raspberry leaf tea. This orange pansy is also rather pretty, but it doesn't give the tea as intense a color. Raspberry leaves are a classic herbal tea, they taste sweet and lovely and are supposed to have medicinal effects (though I haven't noticed any).

Linnaea flower and leaf tea. I really like how these tiny flowers look in my tea cup, but unfortunately the taste is a bit too subtle for me. Just a hint of sweetness and not much more. I will have to use these in combination with something of stronger taste or when I'm in the mood for something subtle.
Finally a picture of my favorite tea. Labrador tea! I love the strong herbal taste and scent of this one! I store this tea in the freezer rather than dried as I have found thet the taste isn't really preserved well in the dried plant.
Other plants that I have harvested:

  • Rose petals - Give a subtle scent and taste of rose.
  • Cornflower (Centaurea cyanus) - Are pretty and blue but not much else.
  • Red clover flower - Not as sweet and not as pretty as it's white sibling.
  • Veronica (esp. Veronica chamaedrys) - Traditional tea plant, tastes nice and sweet.
  • Blueberry leaf - Tastes wonderful, quite fresh and green!
  • Lingonberry leaf - Tastes virtually nothing. Said to be a cood treatment for urinary infection though.
  • Strawberry leaf - Sweet and tasty, quite similar to raspberry or lady's mantle.
  • Violet flowers - Look pretty and have a subtle sweet taste.
  • Mint and peppermint - I love to blend these strong flavored herbs with something pretty but boring!
  • Hops - Really interesting, rather beer like, taste. Supposedly good as a sleep-inducing evening tea.
  • Black currant leaves - Really strong and unique flavor! I love blending with blander but prettier herbs.
Those are the plants I have harvested and tried as tea! I have tried a lot of different blends too but I suggest that you experiement and find your personal favorites. Feel free to ask questions, I am sure that I have forgotten something...


  1. What a beautiful post! I adore seeing all the different teas you can make out of the herbs you have harvested. It is great to see the way the flowers and leaves expand in the tea. I always think they look so ghostly.

    Have you looked into the medicinal properties of these plants? I don't know many western herbs, but I'm sure you can brew up something or the other which is great for you as well as tasting good.

    Thanks for finishing up the series!

    1. The books I have on the subject of herbs talk a lot about medicinal properties/traditional medicinal use. However I seem to lack some of the english vocabulary when it comes to medicinal properties of herbs... I couldn't figure out some of the words, even with extensive googling, so I didn't go into it very much in my blog post. Raspberry leaves have traditionally been used to help with menstrual cramps. Hops have calming and sleep inducing properties. Lingonberry is good for urinary infection. Lady's mantle is anti-diarroic and anti-inflammatory. Fireweed is an astringent. Yarrow has a wide variety of effects, among them anti-inflammatory, appetite stimulatory and cough dampening effects. It is also good against stomach cramps. Meadowsweet is good against fever and is anti-inflammatory among other effects. I haven't noticed any effects on me though, not through normal use as tea anyway.

    2. Well, if you're interested, I would be happy to translate any terms you don't understand. Give me a list and I'll see if I can distill them into terms that are easier to understand.

      And yes, for the herbs to have a more seriously medicinal affect, they would need to be decocted a higher concentrations. But having them in tea certainly doesn't harm!

    3. Nah, the translation issues are more the other way around. I know the terms in swedish but can't for the life of me find the correct english words. Like what is the correct english medical term for a drug that works to relieve cramps?