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Easy Herb Drying for Homemade Tea

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I have to admit that I’m a bit of an herb fiend. I love so many things about them! Their strong scent when I crush their leaves in my fingers, their aroma when heated to make a meal, their fullness and vibrancy in the garden, their medicinal values…I could go on and on.

Home grown tea is an incredibly easy but wonderful gift, both for yourself and others. Last year I started drying peppermint and spearmint and making tea from them. Now I’m absolutely hooked on this tea!

Because I loved my tea so much last year, I’ve taken many cuttings and put them in various pots to grow more. Mints are known for taking over gardens, so I mostly keep them contained. They’re incredible easy to establish, but that’s another post…

Rosemary and Lemon Thyme were the only herbs I had through the winter, so I used them in my cooking and face steaming (that’s another post). I nearly picked them to death while waiting for my other herbs to pop up.

The week I fought a cold and cough, I put Peppermint, Spearmint, Lemon Balm, Rosemary and Lemon Thyme to work in teas with dandelion greens. The cold barely lasted three days.

I plan to try some new blends this year – lemongrass with mint, lavender with mint, rosemary with lemon verbena, and whatever else comes together. Any ideas?

A couple months ago, in my Tips for Tea Drinkers post, I promised to share how I dry my herbs, so here it is.

Spring’s Herb Drying Method:

Tools needed:
Rubber bands
Scissors or small pruners
Push pins or small, out of the way, small bar 

Instructions:

  1. Cut at least three inches off the tops of herb plants
    1. make sure to leave some leaves so they’ll keep growing
    2. keep the thickest part of the stems together as you cut them
    3. keep different herbs separate as they may have different drying times
  2. Gather small bunches
  3. Tightly bundle bunches so the stems are even (keep bundles less than an inch thick to keep inner leaves from molding)
  4. Wrap the rubber band around the bundled stems over and over until it’s tight
  5. Hang – put one section of the rubber band either over a bar or the head of a push pin on a wall (I’m sure there are other places to hang herbs, these are just what I’ve used)
    1. make sure it’s out of the way so you won’t bump it
    2. make sure it’s in a dry place – I find outside in Western Washington is too damp, so I hang them inside
  6. Leave alone until completely dry – when you touch it the leaves should rattle and easily fall off
  7. Separate leaves and stems over a large plate
  8. Put leaves in dry glass jars – mix them for tea blends, or keep separate to keep the flavors strong.
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Freshly cut peppermint and spearmint hanging from rubber bands
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Dried peppermint and spearmint

For teas I try to keep the leaves somewhat whole, rather than crush them, as I’m not a fan of the bits floating around in my tea water. Those little bits like to find the crevices between teeth!

For cooking, I like to crumble leaves into smaller pieces. However, I prefer fresh herbs so I often don’t dry them until in the fall.

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Dried tea leaves separated from stems

I try to use glass for storing all of my food so as to avoid the nasty chemicals and tastes in plastics. Plus, they look so nice in jars!

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Voila! There you have it. You’ll never have to buy herb tea again, which is good considering all the things I wrote about in my Tips for Tea Drinkers post.

Here are the herbs I’ll be growing, eating and drinking this summer:  Lavender, Spearmint, Peppermint, Chocolate Mint, Lemon Balm, Mexican Oregano, Chives, Lemongrass, Rosemary, Lemon Thyme, Thyme, Pineapple Sage, culinary Sage, German Chamomile, Fennel, Comfrey, Greek Oregano, Cilantro, a couple types of parsley, and various types of basil (mostly Sweet Basil).

What herbs do you grow? Do you have tea blend ideas? I’d love to see your thoughts and comments in the comments section.

If you’d like more of my sustainable living tips, subscribe for free on the right side of this page.

Happy Herbing!

~Spring

3 thoughts on “Easy Herb Drying for Homemade Tea

  1. Can tea be made with fresh mint? Have you used fresh Stevia as a sweetener? I’m growing it for the first time this year. The only mint I have growing now is Chocolate Mint and I am thinking of adding spearmint.

  2. Absolutely – fresh mint tea is delicious! I just like to have dried leaves around for rainy days I don’t feel like wandering in the garden in my pajamas in the morning.

    I definitely prefer to use a large tea infuser to get the most flavor out of any tea, but especially for fresh leaves. I can’t seem to find the infuser I like best (it provides the most flavor) – it’s pictured in my “Tips for Tea Drinkers” post…

    I have used fresh Stevia as a sweetener – it’s much less sweet than sugar and has a very different taste, so it isn’t my favorite, but many people love it. You can dry it with the same techniques I listed, but I’d crumple it into tiny bits and just put the whole thing into teas or anything else you want sweetened.

  3. When I use fresh mint in cold or hot water, I make several tears from edge to stem depending on leaf size.

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