Summertime is the perfect time of year for experimenting with making your own herbal iced tea. As I have expanded my home garden, I’ve added lots of easy-to-grow herbs like mint and lemon balm. Lemon balm has proven to be one of the most charming additions to my garden and mint is as versatile as it is delicious. Both of them, as it turns out, make incredible herbal teas.
Even the most novice of gardeners (like myself) can grow these plants. The great thing about mint and lemon balm is that they grow like weeds. In fact, I believe they technically are weeds. Doesn’t matter, because they are awesome and you can show off your spectacular gardening skills to your friends by making a refreshing herbal iced tea upon their next visit.
In addition to their fabulous flavors, lemon balm and mint both have well-noted homeopathic qualities. Lemon balm has been known to reduce anxiety, promote better sleep and support digestive health. Mint is also a revered sleep aid as well as a diuretic. You can make tea out of each of these herbs and even blend them for a delightfully refreshing summer iced tea.
There are two ways you can make a tea from the leaves of these plants.
1. Fresh method
If you’re pressed for time or were hit by sudden inspiration, you can pick a few handfuls of leaves (you’ll need approximately 6 cups of leaves for a full pot or a generous handful for a cup), wash off any soil or friends that hitched a ride from the garden, then chop, crush or steep them whole in an infuser teapot.
After boiling 4 cups of water, allow the leaves to steep for 4-6 minutes depending on your preference. To make iced tea, allow a longer steeping time for stronger flavor and pour over ice.
2. Dried method
But, if you have a little more time and plan ahead, you can harvest all of your leaves at once and dry them. Dried leaves will stay fresh for several months if stored in an airtight container. Rinse and pat dry your leaves. Cut, roll, or crush the leaves, then spread them out evenly on parchment paper and bake in the oven at 175 degrees for 2 to 3 hours.
Once the leaves have dried, store them in a cool, dry place. You can steep the dried leaves in a reusable herbal extraction bag according to the direction listed above and enjoy!