Herbal tea is easy and rewarding to grow yourself. Many tea herbs are easy-to-grow and do well in pots and small spaces, so you can enjoy delicious home-grown tea year-round.
My first tea garden was a large, rambling, free-formed plot that took up a good portion of our garden space. I happily let the plants intermix and didn’t worry (too much) about plants that liked to invade every spare spot — after all, I had lots of room!
After our recent move, my tea garden is now contained in one square-foot box, and lots and lots of pots. I have quickly learned how to make the most of our small space and have discovered that it is possible to grow enough herbs to use, dry, and store — no matter your garden size.
Although you can make tea out of almost any herb, here are five (plus one more) of my favorites for both large and small gardens!
Lemony-scented and refreshing, I drink this tea all year long, either on its own or mixed with other herbs. Given a tiny bit of garden room, Lemon Verbena will grow into a beautiful bushy plant, with lots of leaves to dry and store for winter. Leaves can also be used fresh and make lovely lemony iced tea. Grow in well-drained soil in full sun, or in a large pot. Grown as an annual unless you live in the tropics or over-winter your pot indoors.
This is a lightly-flavored tea herb known for its calming properties. Often grown en masse in large gardens, the secret to a bountiful harvest from a few plants is to harvest the flowers as soon as you see them, and then keep harvesting throughout the season. I harvest a full Mason jar of dried flowerheads in one season, all from a few plants in the corner of my garden.
Grow this annual from seed in full sun. Although not recommended for containers, I have successfully done so, but prefer to use a small bit of garden space for a better harvest.
Another lemony favorite! On top of a refreshing lemon flavor, it is also a calming herb often used to combat stress, anxiety, and insomnia. Leaves can be used fresh or dried and are wonderful for iced tea, too.
This perennial can take over the garden if you let it go to seed. Cutting it back often (while making delicious tea) will develop a bushy plant and stop seeds from forming. It grows well in a pot, but be sure to water often! Can be grown in full sun and partial shade. If you grow it in a pot, try storing it in a cool, dark spot during the winter months and it will often come back in the spring.
This is a standard tea herb. Peppermint is a perennial favorite and aids in digestion. Spearmint was a new one for me this year and the fast favorite of my visiting tea-drinking friends. It can be used fresh all season and then dried for winter use. Mints of all types are aggressive spreaders and are best grown contained, unless you have a large space and are happy to have it wander.
This perennial grows well in partial shade and in most soils. It does very well in pots, but remember to keep them watered! Similar to Lemon Balm, potted mints can be overwintered in their pots in a cool dark place.
This makes a lovely licorice-flavored tea. Both leaves and flowers can be harvested for tea and used fresh or dried. This perennial loves full-sun and well-drained soil. It does very well in a small garden space, or can be planted in pots. Use a larger pot to encourage larger plants and flowers.
Raspberry Leaf (for larger gardens)
I had to tack this on as an extra as it is not conducive to small gardens. However, it is a wonderful tea herb, and if you have the space it is a rewarding plant to grow. Red Raspberry leaf tea has a taste very similar to traditional tea, but without the caffeine! It is lovely both hot and iced.
It is a perennial that should be grown in full sun and well-drained soil. They do take a bit of care in pruning, but the harvest is worth it. For tea, choose young leaves, dry them, and store until ready to use.
Do you have a tea garden? What are your favorite herbs to grow?
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