DESIGNING A TEA GARDEN
Did you ever think to plant a tea garden? Perhaps a DIY herbal tea garden for your happiness and health?
Designing a tea garden is a wonderful idea that takes just a little planning and research. And you don’t need a huge space either.
Maybe you’ve been thinking about it for a while or maybe it’s a brand new inspiration. Whichever it is for you, the benefits are numerous.
Just being able to make yourself (and others) a cup of tea from your very own small or large patch of soil is so enjoyable and such a source of immense pride.
Designing a tea garden and making it a reality, seeing your handiwork growing and blooming, attracting birds, bees, and butterflies. That alone is reason enough to go for it, wouldn’t you say?
Then just see yourself standing in the middle of it all, harvesting the rewards and preparing your very own “garden to table” soul-soothing, delicious brew.
HOW TO PLANT A TEA GARDEN
Let’s start to look at how to plant a tea garden. The first thing to do is decide on where it will be and how to begin.
Look around your land and choose a bright sun-filled area that you know has soil with proper drainage. This special area should also receive sunlight during a good part of the day (6 or more hours a day is ideal).
Don’t be discouraged if you can’t locate an area that is well-drained.
You can always consider tea gardening in raised beds (but we’ll talk about that another time). For now, we’ll continue our talk without raised beds.
Prepare your soil by getting rid of weeds, grass, large rocks, etc. Soil can easily become compacted (keeping nutrients from entering and benefiting your plants).
You want that soil to be workable and aerated. So dig it up a bit and have fun loosening things up!
Once you’re satisfied with how your chosen spot looks, it’s time to spread some organic matter.
Get yourself some manure (aged), compost, or even mulch. If you already have your own compost pile going, great- you’re ahead of the game. If not, You should easily be able to purchase any of the above at your local gardening center, from a farm, or even from your municipality.
Once you’ve made and purchased your choice, spread a layer of it about 2 inches on top and then work it well into the soil, getting down approximately 6 to 8 inches into the ground.
Once this is done and you’re satisfied with the results, it’s time to get your plants into their new home.
And remember that you can always start your tea garden from seed indoors and then plant them outdoors when you (and they) are ready)! Click here and see just some of what’s available to you on Amazon.
TEA PLANT GROWING CONDITIONS
For a “true” tea experience, you’ll want to put in a Camellia Sinensis bush if you are in planting zones 8 thru 11.
But because tea plant growing conditions for these shrubs are a little complex, you’ll need patience and some knowledge. The Camellia Sinensis needs a lot of humidity, water, and warmth, it’s not the easiest to grow as an amateur.
However, if your zone allows and you’re willing to try, the leaves of this plant will give you a tasty cup of tea regardless of which type of Camellia shrub you buy.
This article discusses herbal tea gardens, but I wanted to briefly introduce you to the idea of a “true tea experience”. If you’d like to read a bit more about the Camellia Sinensis, you can do so by clicking this link.
WHAT TO PLANT IN A TEA GARDEN
If you aren’t able to incorporate the Camellia Sinensis into your garden due to your region and aren’t sure of what to plant in a tea garden, keep reading, there are plenty of herbal plants that you can use and still enjoy some lovely “tisanes” or herbal tea infusions from your tea garden.
These brews (tisanes) are made from the leaves or flowers of the herbs. If you truly love tea, you’ll be happy with several different varieties, or you can start with just a couple of plants like mint or lemon verbena that are hardy and easy to grow.
Once you’ve begun snipping one or two little sprigs and tossing them into your teapot, you’ll rapidly become obsessed! It won’t be long before you find yourself planting and growing many more different herb plants to enjoy.
Whether it’s your hot or iced tea, you will find that you will never get tired of all the different concoctions you will come up with.
Typical and most common steep time for your fresh herbal teas is 5 minutes in some hot water. But as you will see in the list below, there are some plants that will give you their best flavor and benefits if you steep a little longer.
DIY HERBAL TEA GARDEN
For a beautiful and abundant DIY herbal tea garden, there are many different plants you can choose from and that you will probably have very good results with. Some of the more popular of these are:
BEE BALM – Steep Time: 15 minutes. A tablespoon of dried petals or 2 tablespoons of fresh
ROMAN CHAMOMILE – Steep Time: 5 minutes, but it won’t be bothered by a longer steep time.
HOLY BASIL (Also known as TULSI) – Steep Time: 5 minutes or more. This one won’t become bitter due to a longer steep time.
1 teaspoon of dry herbs or 2 teaspoons of fresh.
LEMONGRASS – Steep Time: 5-10 minutes. Approximately 2 cups of chopped up leaves (stalks).
LEMON BALM -Steep Time: Approximately 5 to 10 minutes.
MINT – Steep Time: Dried leaves-5 minutes, Fresh leaves-8 min.
RED ROSES & ROSE HIPS – Steep Time: 10 minutes, fresh or dried.
HIBISCUS – Steep Time: 5 minutes. If you go over a bit, it’s OK.
Lemon balm and Mint are an invasive species which grow rapidly. If this will be a problem for you, planting them in some type of container or pot can be a great option.
Hibiscus is a gorgeous warm-weather plant, but don’t let that discourage you from having it in your tea garden if you live where it gets too cold.
Just plant it in a pretty pot that you can bring inside during the winter months. It makes a beautiful indoor plant as well!
Roses are a lovely flower to have in your garden and its rose hips make a wonderful tea chock full of vitamin C.
GROWING A TEA HERB GARDEN
Now you’ve prepared your soil, you’ve chosen your plants, and are ready for growing a tea herb garden! Get out there and have some fun with it.
Place your plants in a way that is pleasing to you and gives them enough space to be happy and thrive. That’s the most important thing to remember. Regardless of rules and advice on what should go where – do what feels and looks good to you!
Just like in designing and decorating the rooms of your own home, there are guidelines, but in the end, it is your space and should be unique to you.
Watch the video below for some inspiration:
True, that if you are planting against a wall or fence it is visually pleasing to place taller plants first against the wall and then the smaller ones in front, and then even smaller ones in front of those (and so on), but you might not like it that way. Do it your way!
Sometimes, adding some interesting pots and/or containers can give your garden a very pretty ambiance. Remember, pots and containers are fantastic for taming those fast-growing, invasive plants like your lemon balm and mint.
Enjoy playing around and experimenting with the placement of everything. That’s part of the fun of herbal tea gardening, it gives you lots of options and flexibility.
Don’t forget to thoroughly water everything once you finish your planting, and continue to monitor your new garden. Unless it rains, you’ll need to be sure to water regularly to help your new plants become well established.
Don’t let them dry up after all your hard work (and expense)!
TIME TO PREPARE YOUR TISANE
Congratulations! Your tea garden has thrived and now you can start reaping its rewards;
Preparing a tisane (or herbal infusion) from your garden is easy. Just choose which flowers or leaves you want to enjoy. I would rinse and dry them first, but that’s up to you.
Tear or chop them up and place them in your cup or pot and pour boiling water over your leaves or flowers (or both) so that they steep covered for about 10-15 minutes.
Also, make sure that there is enough water (give them space) so that the wonderful essential oils and flavors can be more easily released.
After the allotted steeping time, remove (or strain) the plants from the liquid to keep your brew from becoming bitter. Too much time in the hot water and tannins are released by the plants causing the bitterness.
In some cases, depending on the plant, it could be a shorter steeping time. I’ve tried to list the steeping time for the ones on the above list. If you’re interested in a tisane that is not listed, you can easily find the information online (google is your best friend).
Here’s a head’s up, Do NOT use aluminum anything when brewing your teas (or tisanes). Depending on which type of plant you use, it could become reactive with aluminum giving you a not so pleasant toxic drink.
Stay away from aluminum!
Tisanes (herbal infusions) are a great option for pregnant or breastfeeding moms who love their tea but need to stay away from caffeine.
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading this article and that it has served as encouragement for you to get out there and create your very own tea garden.