Forget Ye Olde Tea Shoppe: Just Visit The Garden

Mix up your favorite selection of garden herbs into a tea. I do it and trust me, it tastes great!

by Cyn Cady

Forget Ye Olde Tea Shoppe: Just Visit The Garden - Photo by Cyn Cady (

Despite my legendary caffeine addiction, sometimes it’s necessary actually to consume a different type of beverage. After all, one can’t just drink cup after cup of coffee all day long. (I know, I’ve tried. I had to give up when my hands got so jittery I threw silverware all over the kitchen trying to do the dishes, and we never, ever mention what happened when I tried to pet Pudding the Judgmental Cat.)

What to do when the delicious and potent hot beverage of your dreams simply can’t be yet another muddy cup of super-caffeinated black gold because your head will probably explode? Of course, there are the ready-bagged teas in a variety of flavors, but I just wander out to the Fortress Garden and start grabbing handfuls of stuff. Whoever said tea had to be dried was, well, just wrong. Fresh herbs make fantastic tea—I’d argue even better than the dried stuff.

Forget Ye Olde Tea Shoppe: Just Visit The Garden - Photo by Cyn Cady (

One of my favorite concoctions is a mix of peppermint, pineapple mint and lemon balm in roughly equal portions. Add a couple of sprigs of stevia, pour boiling water overtop, and in 5 to 10 minutes, you’ve got a pot of naturally sweetened, delicious hot tea. Steep it a little longer and pour it into a pitcher of ice, and it’s a great cold beverage, as well. Really great. I mean, teenagers-drink-it-all-and-immediately-want-more great. Whenever I find something that the boy one and the girl one like that isn’t a bright orange-powder-covered chip or a milky-looking drink with 75 grams of sugar, I do the happy dance and make a lot of it.

Forget Ye Olde Tea Shoppe: Just Visit The Garden - Photo by Cyn Cady (

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Because the kids liked the fresh peppermint/pineapple-mint/lemon-balm tea so much, they literally drank me out of supply last year. This spring, the peppermint and pineapple mint beds doubled in size (as is mint’s wont; be careful where you plant this stuff), and I quadrupled the amount of stevia, which didn’t overwinter very well. I figure even if I have way too much, I could also drag out the dehydrator for preserving the excess fresh supply. I added plantings of borage and lemon verbena for a twist, and got really crazy and planted a medicinal herb bed with elecampane, hyssop, Echinacea and chamomile … in case I decide to go into the witch-doctor business. I do so love that witch-doctor headgear.

Forget Ye Olde Tea Shoppe: Just Visit The Garden - Photo by Cyn Cady (

Go for it. Mix and match whatever you’ve got on hand and see what works. Lemon balm and basil? Orange rind and sage? Borage and pineapple mint?

I have even considered making up a supply of teabags, mainly because I like the meditative process of dipping the bag up and down in the cup while staring at a sinkful of dirty dishes, thoughtfully considering whether I can come up with a tea-based excuse for not doing them.

Even Pudding is slowly starting to trust me again.

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