mini gardeners

inspiring gardening projects for children

Grow Your Own Herbal Tea

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grow your own herbal tea

A week to go until Mother’s Day. If you’ve been highly organised and already have a gift purchased/ordered then you can stop reading now. If not, here’s a little idea for a simple but effective handmade Mother’s Day gift that children can help with: a grow your own herbal tea planter.

We used a recycled wine box and 3 small plants but any pot or window box planter would work, just adjust the number of plants accordingly.

If your planter doesn’t have drainage holes in the base, these need to be added – I drilled some holes in the base of the wine box. I also lined the box with some old compost bags as I know from experience that wooden planters can start to rot in no time at all. If you do this, don’t forget to snip some drainage holes in the compost bag.

Then onto the plants. There are lots of choices for herbal tea but we narrowed our wish-list down to five.

apple mint (mentha suaveolens)

1. Apple mint  Mentha suaveolens

Many types of mint are good for herbal tea – Moroccan mint has a particularly good flavour – but we selected apple mint for its attractive variegated leaves (see photo above).

2.  Lemon balm  Melissa officinalis

Makes a good herbal tea on its own and is often used as a base for adding other flavours.

3. German chamomile  Matricaria recutita

This is on the list because we’ve never grown chamomile and we were curious…

4. Anise hyssop  Agastache foeniculum

As the name suggests, this has a licorice flavour, and as an added bonus the blue flowers are attractive to bees.

5. Bronze fennel  Foeniculum vulgare ‘Purpureum’ or ‘Giant Bronze’

Another licorice flavoured herb with attractive feathery leaves. With fennel the seeds, rather than the leaves, are collected for making tea.

On a quick trip to the garden centre we managed to find small plants for three of our wish-list; lemon balm, apple mint and bronze fennel. I later found some seeds for anise hyssop in my seed collection so a small pot of those are in the propagator as we speak.  And the chamomile will have to wait for the moment.

All of these herbs will be happy in a sunny spot and will need to be watered frequently as the container is relatively small and the compost likely to dry out. I suspect that we’ll replant them directly into the ground in the garden or allotment at some future point but for now they’re looking pretty on a patio table in the sun. The mint, of course, will have to stay in a pot otherwise it’ll take over the whole garden.

When I’m ready for a cup of tea I’ll harvest about 2 tablespoons of leaves, bruise them gently to release the aromatic oils and then steep in hot water for up to 5 minutes. Trial and error may mean this “recipe” gets adjusted over time.

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6 thoughts on “Grow Your Own Herbal Tea

  1. I have lemon verbena in a pot on my balcony (along with other herbs) because it’s so lovely to make a quick cup of tea with the leaves during the summer. I really should plant it out in the garden where it will become a huge shrub but then I’d miss having it nearby! Lovely idea to reuse a wooden box (I see you’re using a tea towel as a drip tray!) and the whole thing could go outside in summer and the box replanted with mini succulents when the herbs outgrow their space in the box.

  2. You’re very observant, I was convinced I’d hidden that tea towel well!! Many thanks for the tip on lemon verbena, sounds lovely and I’ll add it to the list. I understand that it’s half hardy so I’d be interested to hear if you protect it somehow over the winter or whether your balcony is sufficiently sheltered.

  3. What a fantastic idea! 🙂

    • Thank you! I’ve been tempted to start harvesting but I’m trying to be patient and wait a bit longer until the plants are established 🙂

  4. What a lovely idea – I really like the box too. I’m going to try to actually use the different mints I have this year so this would definitely remind me to!

    • We’ve just added orange mint and Indian mint to our collection of mint plants. Not sure they’ll make good tea but they are unusual!

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