Mint (mentha) should always be propagated by stem or root cuttings. You must be warned that this hardy perennial likes to grow everywhere, fast. It's a good idea to plant this prolific herb in a container or out behind the garage where it has room to roam. There are many flavours to choose from, spearmint (mentha spicata), peppermint (mentha piperita vulgaris), orange mint (mentha piperita citrata) and English mint (mentha spicata cv.) are common tea mints. In 1995 a new mint was introduced " Hillary's Sweet Lemon". Stems, leaves and flowers can all be used to make a great tea.

Anise-hyssop (agastache foeniculum) is a very pretty perennial that makes a great tea, especially if you like the taste of licorice. The first year I grew anise-hyssop, my one plant was not enough but, I quickly found out that a whole row was too much. Oh the fun of gardening!

There are many "lemony" herbs and all make a great tea. Lemon balm (melissa officinalis) is a favourite. If you or a friend are feeling a little grumpy a hint of lemon balm will cheer the spirits.

Lemon verbena (aloysia triphylla) is native to South America and therefore not hardy in our climate (tender perennial). It has to come indoors for the winter or be treated as an annual. The wonderfully sweet scent is stronger than lemons and is, what I feel, the best of the "lemony" herbs. It is propagated from cuttings . My lemon verbena tree has been with us for 15 years. It is in a large clay pot that I place outside for the summer and bring indoors before the first heavy frost. It usually drops most, if not all of it's leaves, but given a sunny window and a weekly watering, it has always made a come back. Each spring, I take rooted cuttings and plant them directly into a row in the garden. By autumn each cutting is four to five feet tall and at least that wide. Harvest leaves me with plenty of lemon verbena leaves for not only teas but also potpourri. And once again the "mother" lemon verbena comes into the house.

Lemongrass (cymbopagon citratus) is from the Orient. This "tender perennial" has a strong "lemony" herb flavour to add to the tea blend.

Of all the many basils, lemon basil (ocimum americanum) is one of the best for tea. Lemon basil is a very tender annual; meaning if you even mention the word frost, the plant will freeze on the spot and turn black.

Herbal sun tea can also be made by stuffing clean, fresh herbs of your choice into a lidded gallon jar, adding water and if desired, honey or sugar and two or three bags of regular tea. Set in the sun for the day, strain, chill and serve with minted ice cubes and slices of lemon. A garnish of edible flowers would also be pleasing (flowers of anise-hyssop, mint, violets, sweet cicely or sweet woodruff).

Store all dry herb tea in sealed containers (glass jars are great), out of direct sun. Extra herb tea from your garden can make great gifts perhaps combined with a small tea pot or a book on herbs, and presented in a nice garden basket. Why not make this your cup of tea! 

The Herbal Tea Garden

by Marilyn Edmison-Driedger

 [note~ Blend & strain fresh spearmint leaves with a blender... add natural sweetener, like lohan guo.