One of the best uses for homegrown herbs is in tea, and fresh herbal tea is one of the best kinds of tea.
Why would you want to do this?
You can achieve an unlimited variety of blends, your homemade tea tastes better than store-bought tea, and making your own tea bags is an easy, quick project as well as a fun gift idea.
Is there an easier way?
If you make a big batch of tea bags at one time, you’ll be set for a while. Another option is to crumble your favorite herbs or herb mixes and keep them in a dark, airtight container in your kitchen. When you want a quick cup, you can scoop out the leaves on the spot.
You can make 100 tea bags for about the same price as a store-bought package of 20 tea bags; the cost is even less if you grow your own herbs.
The first step to making tea is drying your herbs. You can brew tea with dried herbs by using infusers, strainers, or bags. Infusers sink down into a cup or pot and come in many forms; for example, there are spring-controlled mesh spoons as well as infusers with screw-on lids and chains to hang from the lip of your cup or pot. Silicone infusers, which are growing in popularity, come in a lot of fun shapers. Infusers are nice in that there is no waste when the tea is done steeping, and the herbal matter itself can go straight into the compost. (Tea bags can be composted also, but you have to pay attention to what they are made of. Silk tea bags are gorgeous, but they are expensive and do not compost.)
A tea strainer sits on top of your cup or pot and holds the loose tea without a lid; you pour your boiled water straight through it. A strainer is easier to clean than an infuser is, but depending on the depth of the strainer, it may not hold the leaves in the liquid and will thus yield a weaker decoction.
You can buy empty tea bags to fill—some natural-food stores have them in the tea aisle near the loose tea sold in bulk, or you can order them online. Some bags have a simple double-fold flap that you fold over the top after filling the bag with herbs; others can be stapled closed after folding. My favorite is the type that seals shut with a quick pass of an iron across the open end. A box of homemade tea bags makes a unique holiday or hostess gift.
This article was excerpted with permission from the book Urban Farm Projects: Making the Most of Your Money, Space, and Stuff, copyright 2014, I-5 Publishing, LLC. For more budget-friendly and environmentally conscience projects and recipes, pick up a copy today!