Few things are as enjoyable—or as peaceful—as a hot cup of homemade herbal tea. In addition to helping improve overall mood, certain kinds of herbal tea may provide immune system support, assist with brain function and digestion, and might even help ease physical pain thanks to anti-inflammatory properties. And believe it or not, the potential health benefits don’t stop there. (Though we always recommend speaking with your doctor before attempting to treat any medical issues.)
Luckily, you can grow many herbs for tea right here in Indiana, and harvest, dry, and steep them yourself. And in most cases, you can grow them both inside and outside. (By the way, if you’re interested in edible outdoor herb gardens, we have you covered.) Here are a few herbs you can grow yourself that’ll taste great in a cup of tea.
Mint. As one of the easiest plants on this list to take care of, mint is a great first choice for inexperienced gardeners. It has a long medical history of easing digestive discomfort, and it doesn’t hurt that many people think it tastes great!
Mint is a hearty plant that will do well with lots of sunlight and water. It tends to grow naturally in moist areas along riverbanks and lakes, and will thrive during hot, humid Indiana summers. It’s also an outstanding choice for container gardening and will respond well to using compost (which you can make yourself) and pruning.
Chamomile. Chamomile has been used for thousands of years by African and European cultures as a calming, stress-reducing herb. Today, it can be found throughout much of America, and is pretty easy to grow and care for. In addition to helping with relaxation, chamomile is also used for issues like arthritis and muscle spasms—and some of its purported benefits, including anxiety reduction, have been proven in double-blind studies.
Like mint, chamomile is a rugged plant that grows quickly and can tolerate drought. It’s another great candidate for container gardening inside or outside, but keep in mind that since it grows quickly, it can become too heavy on top and fall over. Fertilizer isn’t typically necessary with chamomile—just plant it and watch it grow!
Lavender. Many people think of lavender as a distinctive purple flower that can add unique color and texture to a landscape, but it’s also great in a cup of tea. While not native to the U.S., lavender is now cultivated widely across the country—including right here in Indiana. It’s commonly used for all sorts of health benefits, including helping to improve sleep, minimizing inflammation, and removing toxins from the body.
Lavender tends to grow best in hot, southern climates, but it can do very well here in Indiana during warmer months. Since good air circulation and drainage are important for lavender, it’s another excellent choice to grow in a container. Unlike mint, lavender can be overwatered fairly easily, so if your plants seem wilted or have stunted growth, consider less water and better soil drainage.
Dandelion. You might think those yellow flowers popping up all over your yard this spring are just weeds. But dandelions can actually be brewed into tea, and some people grow them for their medicinal benefits, which can include a stronger immune system and detoxifying properties.
Dandelions are probably the easiest of all to get started; you can grow them just about anywhere with soil and water. However, if you want to use dandelions for herbal tea, we’d recommend growing them from seeds instead of using flowers you find in the wild. This is because it’s impossible to say what pesticides or other hazardous substances might have come in contact with the plant. Dandelions grow extremely fast and can be invasive, so if you plan to add them to your garden, make sure they have a separate area.
Keep in mind that many herbs can be blended together when making tea, and that experimenting can lead to some amazing new flavors. Just make sure you always understand exactly what kinds of herbs you’re using—which shouldn’t be a problem if you grow and brew them yourself!
Growing your own herbs for tea is a rewarding experience you can share with the whole family. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful break in the middle of your day or trying to unwind before bed, it’s something everyone from kids to grandparents can look forward to—and growing the herbs as a family makes the experience that much more special.
In case you couldn’t tell, our team at Engledow loves everything about plants and nature. If it’s green and growing, we’re passionate about it—and if you’re ever looking for help with landscape design, maintenance, or interior plants, we’re standing by to help. Contact us today.