If you’re looking for patio garden ideas on a budget, consider growing your own herbs for tea! Many mass-produced teas nowadays have dubious sources and can be heavily treated with pesticides. In other words, it’s hard to know exactly what you’re sipping. Furthermore, prices at specialty tea shops can be hard on the wallet.
You tea lovers will be thrilled to know that you can grow several delicious herbs right on your own balcony or patio. Read on to learn more about the classic (and not so classic) plants popularly used in teas, and how to cultivate them at home.
Making Herbal Teas at Home
Most people don’t really think about how easy it is to prepare herbal tea at home. For example, try adding lavender and bergamot to a black tea to make a robust lavender Earl Grey. Similarly, borage combined with lemon balm creates a soothing, very fresh-tasting cucumber-lemon flavor.
If you’re a tea lover, you’ll be thrilled to know that you can create your own patio garden starring all the classic (and not so classic) plants commonly used in teas. As an added bonus, you’ll also help local wildlife. Not only will these various plants help attract bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds, they’ll add colour and life to your patio while being functional and delicious.
Rosemary isn’t just for roast chicken, you know: it also makes an excellent tea. It’s similar to lavender in terms of depth of flavour, with delightful citrus and mint undertones. Brewed rosemary tea is delightful as a hot drink, either on its own or combined with other flavours.
It’s rich in folate, vitamins A,B, C, and E, and can assist with alertness and memory by supporting acetylcholine in the brain.
Making rosemary tea is simple. Just drop a fresh sprig in hot water and steep for about 3 minutes for the best taste. Combine with chamomile for a stomach-soothing brew.
2. Orange Thyme
I’m a sucker for teas that are infused with orange flavour. If you’re feeling adventurous, try combining thyme with black tea as a coffee replacement. It’s a fantastic way to wake up, with black tea’s caffeine and a gentle citrus kick.
This perennial evergreen is far from just a basic kitchen herb. In fact, it’s been used for its antiseptic qualities dating back to 3,000 B.C. It can help with a whole host of health woes, from upper respiratory infections to colic.
If orange thyme isn’t your thing, there are over 350 other varieties of thyme to try.
Bergamot is also known as Bee Balm and Monarda, and flowers from August through to the first frost. This beautiful plant produces pink/purple blooms, and attracts countless pollinators. If you grow bergamot on your patio, be prepared to see hummingbirds coming for regular visits.
This hardy perennial belongs to the mint family and can grow quite tall (up to five feet). As a result, keep it in a large container and divide it every three years to prevent overcrowding and root binding.
Keep all mint varieties (chocolate, ginger, peppermint, spearmint, etc…) in their own containers, otherwise they’ll take over everything else.
Mint is one of the most popular tea flavors, and basically grows itself. Even better, it can either be used on its own or combined with any plain teas you already have on hand. Ginger mint is especially good for stomach upset or for a calming tea anytime, especially as an after-dinner beverage or before bed.
5. Lemon Balm
This lively herb is ideal for making a perfect cup of lemon tea. It can be added to iced teas and cocktails, or enjoyed hot on a chilly morning. With a dollop of honey, this citrusy favourite is soothing for winter colds.
Keep it in a container of its own because it spreads like mint. Lemon balm is known to act as a mild sedative and can help with insomnia, making it a great tea for bedtime.
Rosehip oil has become popular for skin care regimes, but did you know that rosehips are loaded with vitamin C? This helps with iron absorption and keeping colds and flus at bay. Wild rose plants grow in many regions, but if you don’t have any nearby, they’re a great choice for potted plants and are quite pretty to look at.
Harvest the hips in autumn, and dry them for year-round use. Additionally, you can use fresh rosehips as an alternative to tomatoes in nightshade-free ketchup.
Echinacea is effective as alternative medicine, and a great herb for colds and cases of flu. In addition, it’s a beautiful plant to grow, with purple blossoms and a distinctive orange center.
Also called purple coneflower, it’s simple to grow from seed and especially hardy/drought tolerant. The roots are the most potent part of the plant, but you can also use the stems and flowers to make your tea. Both Echinacea angustifolia and Echinacea purpurea have excellent immune-boosting properties.
8. Red Raspberry Leaf
Red raspberry leaf tea has a nice strong flavour profile similar to black tea, and is very rich in a variety of vitamins and minerals, from vitamin C to potassium and phosphorus.
Midwives the world over recommend raspberry leaf for its uterus-strengthening abilities, but some healthcare professionals caution expectant Moms to wait until at least the 34th week of pregnancy to prevent any premature contractions.
Dandelions are gourmet weeds that just don’t get enough credit for their superpowers. They were introduced to North America for their nutritional qualities, as they’re completely edible from root to petal. Dandelion greens and are a great source of Vitamin A, K, calcium, iron, and magnesium. They’re also a diuretic used to help reduce water retention.
These can be collected from any old lawn, but to ensure they’re clean and kept away from pesticides and animals, go ahead and grow some dandelions in a pot.
Another that can be easily found growing wild, nettle has a bad reputation for its painful sting, but it’s a nutritional powerhouse. It helps to promote a healthy urinary tract, stabilizes blood sugar by releasing insulin, and is packed full of antioxidants to fight heart disease and cancer.
Pick the leaves and boil them fresh to quickly make your own super-healthy nettle tea. Just make sure you’re wearing a good pair of gardening gloves first!
Yarrow can do it all and has been used as medicine since ancient times by Chinese, European, and Native American herbalists alike. This herb assists with clotting as well as supporting new cell development, and can treat fevers, headaches, and digestion issues.
Mix it with dandelion to create a stomach-soothing tea that’s gentle enough for children, or as a wash for cuts and scrapes.
Also known as pot marigolds, these belong on every patio. They’re sunny, happy flowers and the blooms make a beautiful-looking tea. Calendula is an astringent and anti-inflammatory and is excellent as a topical ointment for cuts, scrapes, and rashes. It’s easy to grow and flowers often, so blooms can be picked every few days or so.
Borage is completely edible and produces bright blue flowers. Because it has a mild flavour reminiscent of cucumber, it makes a nice, light brew and is used as a stress buster thanks to its calming effect on adrenal glands.
You can add fresh lemon balm to your brew as well, for an extra-soothing cuppa.
Jasmine not only looks beautiful, with delicate white flowers, but it smells amazing too. Its gorgeous scent and resulting taste sticks around, even when dried. Vining varieties are a great addition to a trellis or privacy wall.
With a delicate floral taste, Jasmine tea is usually made with green or white tea as a base, but I’ve tried it with chamomile and it was lovely. A relaxing brew, jasmine tea pairs well with all sorts of Asian cuisine.
For dried teas, hang bundles of herbs and flowers in a dry space in your home. Alternatively, use a dehydrator, or crisp them up in the oven on a baking sheet at 250°F for around 20 minutes.
For fresh teas, just snip off blooms and leaves with a sharp pair of shears and let steep in boiling water for 3-20 minutes, depending on desired strength.
Experimenting to create your own budget-friendly organic blends is as simple as growing, picking and drying fresh grown greens and flowers. If you’re really short on space, create a vertical garden with pots with built-in hooks or baskets on a trellis, copper pipe, or curtain rod. Use whatever you have on hand to make it a budget-friendly project like these ones.
*Note: Always check for potential allergens or medical warnings before consuming any of the plants listed here if you’re pregnant, or have plant sensitivities. For instance, dandelion, calendula, and yarrow are all members of the ragweed family and may cause allergic reactions to sensitive persons, and jasmine may stimulate uterine contractions in a pregnant person.