What could be more deliciously satisfying than a home brew that you grew yourself?
Whenever we feel the need to place the world on pause for five minutes, one of our first thoughts is to put the kettle on for a nice cup of tea. There’s something about a hot brew that seems to make the day’s stresses melt away, even if it’s just for a brief moment. But as regular black tea contains caffeine, it perhaps isn’t the ideal drink to bring a sense of calm to the drinker. So for those looking for extra restorative powers may we present these five homegrown alternatives instead…
Chamomile is one of the most popular herbal infusions and is a regular feature of blends claiming to have calming properties. There are two varieties of chamomile you’ll likely come across—German and Roman—and it’s the former you’ll want to introduce into your garden where its daisy-like flowers will cheer any border. It’s easy to grow from seed and will produce an abundance of pluckable flowers from early summer. Try brewing with them fresh and you’ll notice some enhanced fruity flavours that are more muted in the dried teas.
If you’ve ever grown lemon balm then you might notice that it has a habit of self-seeding in even the most awkward looking spots and you’ll begin to wonder what you can do with so many leaves. Tea is the answer. Its lemony flavours not only taste terrific in a hot brew but it’s also used as a natural potion to help induce sleepiness.
We’re all familiar with the soothing fragrance of lavender and it’s increasingly being used as a flavouring for foods and drinks. It may not be to everyone’s taste but we think it works particularly well in milky drinks and desserts (try some lavender ice cream if you haven’t done already). The next time you stir a milky cup of tea, float a couple of lavender heads into the brew to benefit from its soothing aroma or, even better, gently simmer the flowers in a mug of milk instead.
It’s not just the booze that can cause beer drinkers to nod off after a few pints—hops are also a well-known bringer of sleep (hence ‘hop pillows’ being tucked into beds at night). Hops make an attractive addition to a garden, particularly if you have an unsightly shed you want to cover with rambling green foliage. And if you don’t want to go to the lengths of beer making then plucking a few cones for a hot tea is much less bother—just make sure you don’t opt for one of the extremely bitter varieties cherished by modern IPA makers.
If an over-stuffed stomach is the source of your restless discomfort then you’ll benefit from a tea with good digestive properties. There are lots of these available, including fennel and ginger, but by far the best (and often the most abundant to gardeners) is mint. Just scrunch a bunch, dunk it in hot water and sip slowly – that tortured tum will soon settle down allowing you to fully relax.
For more homegrown tea inspiration check out Nick and Rich’s new book Wild Tea
Read more: How to grow herbs on your windowsill
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