Grow and Make Your Own Tea Bags, Free Tea!

Peppermint, Lavender, Lemon Balm (verbena), Rose Hip, Bergamot, Jasmine and my very favourite chamomile! The options are endless. Plant it and drink it, simple right, well maybe. I myself am what you would call a heavy user, drinking 3 or 4 HUGE mugs, 2 bags at a time of chamomile a night. I started to help me sleep, don’t think it really helps more than warm water but I persist probably due to habit. I also like to attempt gardening, why not attempt to combine the two and put a dent in the 1800+ bags I use a year? Last year I made 65! Not really a win but meh, I’ll take it.

Sure you can go the loose leaf route but I’m not into chewy tea or the mesh tea ball route but then I’d have 5 or 6 handles to deal with by the end of the night. Nothing is as convenient as the humble little tea bag, heat water, toss in and enjoy! Plus they are biodegradable and depending on the packaging totally recyclable! It’s also true that you can grow it organically, compost it, it’s local, hipster appropriate and what motivates me, basically free and I made it myself.

Chamomile requires harvesting the little flowers as they pop out and they are like little delicate daisies so I grow them in containers on my step but the yield isn’t very high for this variety. To keep up with my habit I think we would have to replace the lawn. Making other varieties would produce a lot more with little effort.

Rose hips are harvested in the fall from wild (or cultured) roses. Mint is a hard to kill, most people would say impossible but I’ve taken one down, leafy and prolific herb that can be harvested almost to the ground repeatedly through the summer. Lemon balm, you literally can’t  kill that shit! I don’t have a use for it but I do have a GIANT plant of it so I’m taking suggestions… Jasmine is a pretty hardy bush that flowers in the spring which you would harvest for tea. The buds of lavender and the flowers of bergamot are harvested for tea as well. You can combine to your hearts content and investigate growing other varieties perhaps indoors if necessary.

As the flowers on my  German Chamomile pop out I pluck them off and pop them into a zippy bag in the freezer door for the growing season. They usually produce for about 6 weeks before dying down. Then I dry them in the oven on the lowest setting and shred them in the food processor, but you could chop them first and then dry them.

Screen Shot 2017-03-09 at 11.53.53 PM
Plant (wiki commons), ready to dry frozen flowers, choppy choppy

Then it’s time to bag them for future use. I use coffee filters and a stapler. Lots of commercially produced tea bags include staples. you could add a sting and a cute tag, what an idea for a wedding favour. Goes to Pinterest and looks… Alright I’m not the first one to think of that.

I cut the bags for speed not style but you could make them look prettier I’m sure. The pictures show cone type filters but I’ve used basket style too. Place tea in centre, fold edges, roll/ fold top end over end and staple. Well a picture is worth a thousand words so here.

Fold a coffee filter into a tea bag

Heat water, toss in and enjoy!

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