White cup &saucer with light brown tea in it and a floating chamomile blossom and scattered chamomile blossoms on the table.

Crafting Your Own Herbal Tea Journey: From Garden to Cup

Michele Lillie

Embarking on the journey of growing, harvesting, and processing your own tea is an enriching experience connecting you to the essence of tea culture. This journey marries the art of cultivation with the ritual of tea making, allowing you to infuse each cup with a sense of personal achievement and a deeper connection to the earth. A prior post discusses growing and processing the true tea plant, Camellia Sinensis. Here, we will guide you through the steps of transforming your garden herbs into aromatic, soothing teas, ensuring that every tea enthusiast, from novice to aficionado, can revel in the delight of creating their very own tea blends.

Before going further, we must warn you to ensure that the herbs are clean and free of contaminants and pesticides. If you grow your own, you know what has been applied to them. If you are getting them from someone else or even foraging for them, this could be a concern that you need to address.

Step 1: Cultivation - Planting the Seed of Your Tea Journey

Choosing Your Herbs: Start by selecting herbs that resonate with your taste and can thrive in your local climate. Popular choices include chamomile, mint, lavender, and lemon balm. Each herb carries its unique aroma and flavor profile, offering a tapestry of flavors for your tea creations.

Planting: Most tea herbs thrive in well-drained soil and require good sunlight. Whether in your garden or containers, ensure they have enough space to grow. Planting seeds or starter plants in the spring after the last frost will yield the best results.

Soil: Not all soils are great for planting herbs. You may need to amend your soil to ensure your herbs grow and flourish.

Care: Regular watering, ensuring the soil remains moist but not waterlogged, and occasional fertilization will nurture robust, flavorful plants. To maintain the health of your herb garden, keep an eye out for pests and diseases and address them promptly.

Step 2: Harvesting - Picking the Leaves That Will Shape Your Tea

Timing: Harvesting in the morning after the dew has evaporated but before the sun is at its peak ensures that the herbs retain their aromatic oils, which are essential for a flavorful tea. For some herbs, you will harvest the leaves; for others, you will use the flowers; and even for some, you want the root.

Technique: Use clean, sharp scissors to snip the leaves or flowers. Be mindful not to overharvest from any plant; taking only about one-third of the plant material at a time allows the plant to continue thriving.

Step 3: Processing - Crafting the Essence of Your Tea

Drying: You do not need to dry your herbs before using them. Just pick them as above, rinse them, put them in your cup, and brew them as discussed below.

If you wish to dry your herbs, lay them on a clean, dry surface in a well-ventilated, shaded area. This gentle drying process can take a few days to a couple of weeks, depending on the herb and the humidity. The goal is to remove moisture while preserving the herbs’ essential oils and flavors.

For a quicker method, you can dry herbs in an oven set at a very low temperature (no higher than 180°F). Spread the herbs on a baking sheet and leave the oven door ajar to allow moisture to escape. Check frequently to ensure they do not burn.

Storing: Store your herbs in airtight containers away from direct sunlight and moisture once dried. Properly dried herbs can last for months, retaining their aroma and benefits.

Brewing: To enjoy, simply steep about a teaspoon of dried herbs or a tablespoon of fresh herbs in water brought to a boil. If using fresh herbs, gently crush them with a spoon or tear them with your hands to start the release of the essential oils. You may brew them loose in your cup or use a tea infuser.

Brewing herbal tisanes is different than brewing true teas. Regardless of the herb, the water should be brought to a boil. The brewing time should be 5-10 minutes. Unlike true teas, your herbal brew will generally not get bitter with a longer brewing time. Feel free to adjust the quantity of herbs and brewing time to suit your strength and taste preferences. Either strain or remove the infuser and serve in your favorite cup.

You may want to try the cold brew method. Start with one tablespoon of dried herbs to eight ounces of cold water, cover, and refrigerate. Brewing in cold water takes more time than brewing in hot water. The first time you try this with a new herb, try tasting it periodically to find your preferred brewing time. You will probably find that you will need hours or even overnight for a proper brew.


  • There are many varieties of chamomile, but the two most commonly used for tea are German and Roman. Most prefer the taste of the German as the Roman can be bitter.

  • What you harvest are the white and yellow flowers.

  • It has a mild apple aroma and flavor, with a honey-like sweetness and delicate floral notes. It pairs well with mint for a soothing nighttime brew.

Numerous blooming chamomile plants

Lemon Balm

  • This plant is sometimes known as bee balm.

  • The leaves are used and give off a mild lemon aroma.

  • The flavor is citrusy, but as it is part of the mint family, you may also detect some gentle mint notes.

  • It is best to use fresh leaves as dried leaves do not retain their flavor.
Green Lemon Balm Leaves

Lemon Verbena

  • This is the herb that will give you the strongest lemon aroma and flavor with herbaceous notes.

  • Use the leaves for your tea.


  • Although peppermint is the classic mint used in tea, try other varieties such as spearmint, mojito mint, lemon mint, orange mint or others.

  • Harvest and brew the leaves.
Green mint leaves on a mint plant


  • Among the calendula varieties, Calendula officinalis (pot marigold) is the best suited for herbal teas.

  • It is floral and slightly bitter. Therefore, it may be better to use it in a blended herbal tea rather than as a single herb.

  • Calendula’s yellow and orange blossoms are pretty in salads and are said to taste mildly of saffron. 
Yellow & orange calendula blossoms growing on a green plant


  • Basils come in many varieties, and scented ones, such as lemon, clove, Thai and cinnamon, can make flavorful herbal teas. 
Bushy green basil plant


  • English lavender is the best choice for tea brewing.

  • This fragrant herb lends a distinctly floral taste to tea.

  • Use the stems and flowers for a strong, aromatic tea.
Lavender field with rows of blooming lavender and a blooming  lavender plant up front


  • In your garden, this herb boasts small white flowers and an intense aroma.

  • Catnip produces a brew with a minty, earthy taste that is slightly bitter.

  • Use both the leaves and flowers.
Green catnip plant with white & pink blossoms on a purple background


  • This pretty plant is also known as purple coneflower.

  • Its flavor is very floral with earthy notes. This tea is commonly blended with lemongrass and mint for a smoother taste.

  • Use both the leaves and the pinkish-purple flower petals.
Numerous green plants with blooming pink coneflowers.

Blending Herbal Teas

Any of the above herbs can be used alone to make an herbal tea. However, you can have some fun by blending the different herbs and even adding fresh sliced fruit or spices.

Here are some ideas to get you started.

Lavender mint

  • 1 part lavender flowers
  • 2 parts mint leaves

Orange mint

  • Any citrusy mint
  • Add dried lemon and orange rind, cloves, cinnamon, and calendula leaves.

Lemon blend

  • Blend equal parts fresh lemon balm leaves & fresh/dried lemon verbena leaves.
  • Add grated, dried lemon peel, using one tablespoon per cup of lemon herbs.

Sweet orange

  • 1 part orange mint
  • 1 part peppermint
  • 1 part cinnamon basil
  • ½ part dried orange peel
  • A small amount of minced vanilla beans

Apple sage

  • 3 cups apple mint leaves
  • 1 cup sage leaves
  • Five crushed cinnamon sticks
  • Optional: cloves, allspice, cardamom, cinnamon basil, lemony herb

Chocolate Citrus

  • Lemon balm, spearmint, and chocolate mint.
  • Infuse equal parts in hot water for five minutes. Serve hot or chilled.

Floral & Spice

  • Raspberry leaves, chamomile, and fennel
  • Crush fennel seeds and chamomile flowers in a ratio of 1:2 before adding raspberry leaves for bulk.
  • Steep for ten minutes and serve hot.

Minty Herbs

  • Rosemary, lemon verbena, and peppermint
  • Infuse one part rosemary and lemon verbena to two parts peppermint.
    Steep for five minutes and serve hot.

Pretty Brew

  • Peppermint, catnip, lemon verbena and rose petals.
  • Use a 3:1 ratio of peppermint to other herbs.
  • Pour boiling water over the herbs.
  • Cover and let steep for 3 to 5 minutes. Sweeten with honey if desired.

If you're making an iced brew, infused ice cubes are fun and pretty. Place your preferred herb, fruit, or edible flower into an ice cube tray and pour over water. To get the clearest ice cubes, use either filtered water or water that has been brought to a boil and then cooled.

Embarking on Your Tea-Making Journey

Creating your own teas from herbs you've grown and processed is a fulfilling process that connects you to the ancient traditions of tea making. It's an opportunity to experiment with flavors, blends, and brewing techniques, crafting beverages that reflect your personal taste and the care you've invested in your garden.

As you embark on this journey, remember that tea making is as much about the process as it is about the final brew. Each step, from planting to sipping, is an act of mindfulness, an invitation to slow down and savor the moment. Whether a seasoned tea enthusiast or a curious novice, growing and making your own tea offers a unique path to discovery and enjoyment.

In your exploration, let curiosity be your guide and nature your inspiration. The world of tea is vast and varied, offering endless possibilities for creativity and connection. Welcome to your tea journey—from garden to cup.

If you wish to try herbal tisanes and maybe even blend your own but are not interested in growing them, check out the supply at English Tealeaves.

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