Fresh Herbal Beverages
Tea, Herbal Infusion, or Tisane, we love them all
Let’s first start with a few definitions. The term “tea” refers to beverages brewed with the Camellia sinensis plant, including white tea, yellow tea, green tea, oolong tea, pu-erh tea, and black tea. On the other hand, herbal infusions or tisanes use herbs, spices, flowers, leaves, etc. infused in water.
Using fresh seasonal herbs is one of my favorite summertime rituals to enjoy the freshness, vibrant energy, and whole sensory experience of drinking herbal infusions and teas.
Too hot for tea?
In the summertime, making hot tea is usually not top of mind, but how about an herbal infusion that has the refreshing and cooling taste of mint or the bright and reinvigorating taste of lemon? Making beautiful cold infusions is one of my favorite ways to enjoy fresh herbs in the summer (in addition to adding them to meals).
First, roughly chop fresh herbs, then add to room temperature filtered water. Cover with a lid. Wondering how long to steep herbal tea? I allow steeping for 12-24 hours. I like to make it in the evening so that, when I wake up, it is ready to go. I gently shake the infusion, strain the herbs out (or enjoy the tea with them in there), and drink. (I love my cold-infused creations in a large mason jar with the herbs still in there although this often results in many questions from curious friends and coworkers about what is in my jar!) Cold infusing herbs into water pulls out fewer tannins from the herbs and creates a beautiful, smooth, refreshing tea that’s perfect for a warm summer day.
5 Benefits of Herbal Teas and Infusions
- Take a deep breath and breathe in the essential oils of the herbs, which give the herbal infusion its fragrance. Drinking herbal infusions can provide relaxing benefits, especially when you are able to sip away from distractions mindfully. I love lemon balm, lavender, tulsi, and chamomile for their relaxing benefits, and they are great prior to bedtime.
- Sipping on certain herbal infusions after a meal may help to relieve digestive symptoms including gas, bloating, and heartburn. A few of my favorite herbal infusions for digestion include ginger (if digestion is sluggish), fennel (for gas/bloating), chamomile (if experiencing diarrhea), and peppermint (for gas, bloating, indigestion). Also, roasted dandelion root and chicory root make great coffee alternatives and are bitter herbs that help to stimulate digestion.
- Increase Hydration:
- Herbal infusions are a wonderful way to enjoy flavored beverages without any added sugar, artificial flavors, or other ingredients while ensuring you are staying well hydrated during the hot summer months. Just pure and simple. If you have a home carbonation machine, you can also make sparkling teas to enjoy at home using the cold infusion technique above and straining the herbs prior to carbonating.
- Caffeine Free:
- Most herbal infusions are caffeine-free, which is especially important in the afternoon and evening to ensure you are able to obtain restful sleep. Caffeine may also increase cortisol levels and cause variations in blood sugar, so I often recommend avoiding or minimizing caffeine, especially when struggling with low energy, anxiety, difficulty sleeping, blood sugar highs and lows, and adrenal issues.
- You May Eat Seasonally, But Do You Drink Seasonally?
- Drinking fresh herbal infusions allows you to connect with the seasons and can complement meals beautifully. Tune into your creativity and experiment with flavor combinations as a delicious accompaniment to your meals. Drinking fresh seasonal teas provides maximal benefits from the plants, including phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals, and many of the herbs you are using in your tea can also be used in your meals (peas and mint, lemon verbena with white fish, etc.). One of my favorite spring infusions is nettle, which is often referred to as “green milk” because of its high mineral content, and it may be beneficial for allergy sufferers. In the summer I love peppermint for its cooling effects as well as all herbs that involve lemon flavors (lemon balm, lemon verbena, lemon basil, etc). In the fall and winter, I lean towards more warming herbs and spices like ginger, turmeric, and cinnamon.
Our Selection of Farm Fresh Herbs and Their Benefits
Recently we introduced our fresh herbal tea sampler, containing English mint, lemon balm, and lemon verbena. Here is a little bit about the potential benefits of each herb.
Sweet English Mint
Mint tea is a perfect way to finish a meal. Mint helps aid digestion (including symptoms such as indigestion, gas, and bloating) and freshens breath. The scent of the mint tea as you drink it may also help relieve headaches, menstrual cramps, and nasal congestion. Mint tea may help with concentration and focus, and it is caffeine-free so will not disrupt sleep.
Lemon balm tea soothes stress away and helps promote improved mood, a feeling of calm, relaxation, and sleep.
Lemon verbena tea is bright yet soothing, containing a number of anti-inflammatory and cell-protecting plant compounds (aka phytonutrients). Lemon verbena tea is delicious after a meal or before bed to help promote restful sleep.
Cooking with Herbal Infusions
If you have leftover herbal infusions, consider using this flavorful water to prepare rice, boil noodles, and add flavor and nutrients to soups or smoothies.
Lemon Verbena Infused Rice Recipe
- 5-10 fresh roughly chopped lemon verbena leaves
- 1 cup of filtered water
- 1/2 cup of white rice
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Lemon zest to taste
- Bring 1 cup of water to a simmer in a small saucepan, add the roughly chopped leaves of lemon verbena, and cover. Remove from heat. Allow steeping for approximately 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, strain, then return to a boil. Add rice, stir, then cover. Cook as directed based on the directions for the specific rice you are utilizing. Season with salt and pepper and lemon zest to taste.
- Top with additional fresh herbs such as chopped parsley, lemon basil, or Thai basil. Optional, stir in 1 tbsp of grass-fed butter or coconut oil.
Non-Alcoholic Herbal Alternatives
More and more people are choosing to go without alcohol for a variety of reasons which may include supporting liver health, blood sugar balance, and healthy hormone balance. As someone who no longer drinks alcohol, I still love to spend time with friends and family, go to cookouts, and celebrate summer.
Here is one of my favorite fresh herbal mocktail recipes and it is soothing and calming (thanks to chamomile, lavender, and lemon balm) while being bright and refreshing.
Lavender Lemonade Herbal Mocktail
- 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ½ cup fresh lemon balm, lightly packed
- ½ cup fresh lemon verbena, lightly packed
- 3 bags of Traditional Medicinals Chamomile and Lavender Tea
- ¼- ½ cup honey (adjust for desired sweetness)
- 2 cups sparkling water
- Optional: Extra lemon balm leaves, lemon slices, and fresh lavender sprigs to garnish
- In a large pitcher, mix honey and 2 cups of warm water until honey is combined.
- Add lemon juice, and 1 cup of cold water. Mix well.
- Roughly chop lemon balm and lemon verbena then add to mixture. Using a muddler or wooden spoon handle, smash lemon balm and lemon verbena in the bottom of a pitcher.
- Add tea bags to the pitcher.
- Cover and allow the mixture to infuse at room temperature or refrigerate for at least 1-2 hours.
- Prior to serving, remove tea bags, and add 2 cups of cold sparkling water. Stir.
- Pour through a strainer into individual glasses over crushed ice.
- Garnish beverages with lemon balm leaves, lemon slices, and a sprig of lavender.
From Earth to Table
At The Chef’s Garden, we strive to provide the freshest vegetables and herbs imaginable to support your wellness and to provide an unmatched culinary experience at home. We would love to see your herbal tea creations! Make sure to tag us @farmerjonesfarm and to join our Farmacy family on Facebook.
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