What could be more satisfying and refreshing than growing your own herbs for tea? Just step out your back door, pluck a few leaves off your favorite herbs, and within minutes you can enjoy a fresh cup of tea. How self-sufficient!
We have compiled a list of herbs perfect for tea, and life in a container. Most of these plants require full sun and good drainage. There are some exceptions for light requirements. Group two or three plants with similar light requirements in a container for a nice combination. You can also mass a few pots of each herb together for a pleasing vignette.
For hot tea, pour boiling water over leaves and steep for a few minutes. Keep in mind to use only small amounts of your herbs for tea, large doses of some herbs may be harmful and extremely bitter. You can put your tea in the fridge for iced tea. Impress your friends by adding a mint leaf to each square of your ice cube tray. Fill the tray half way, add a leaf on top, and freeze. .
Full, Hot Sun: Lavender, Pineapple sage, Scented geraniums, Aztec sweet herb, Lemon grass and Rosemary.
Partial Shade: Tea, Peppermint, Spearmint, Bee balm, and Wintergreen.
Annual Teapots: Lemon grass, Scented geranium, Stevia, German chamomile, and Aztec sweet herb.
When to plant: These containers can be planted at any time the plants are available. If they are planted early in the season, they will have more time to fill out.
Water: In hot sun you will need to water every day or so. There are products available to help retain moisture that can help with reducing the need for frequent watering.
Fertilizer: You can mix a time release fertilizer (such as Osmocote), or a granular organic all-purpose fertilizer, with the potting soil. Another method is to fertilize once a month in the growing season with an all-purpose liquid fertilizer.
Pruning: Shrubby herbs such as lavender, rosemary and tea are pruned in late winter to early spring. This pruning helps keep the plants compact. Deciduous herbs such as peppermint or bee balm can be cut back to a few inches above the soil in winter.
Shelter: Tender perennials need additional shelter to make it through the winter. Pull containers into a sheltered area such as a porch or garage to ensure plant survival for the next season.
WARNING: Be aware of any chemicals that may have been applied to your herbs. Even organic products can be toxic.
If unsure it’s better to be safe. Harvest only untreated herbs for tea.
Mentha suaveolens: Apple mint - Grows to 3’ tall. Needs full sun. Tolerates dry conditions more than other mints. Use leaves for tea.
Lippia dulcis: Aztec Sweet Herb - A trailing annual. Leaves add a sweet taste to tea.
Monarda didyma: Bergamot, Bee balm - Grows 3 - 5’ tall and wide. Red flowers in July/August. A prime ingredient in Earl Grey tea. Use the leaves for tea.
Monarda citriodora: Bee Balm - Grows 3 - 5’ tall and wide. Partial shade. Pink flowers also attract butterflies, bees and humming birds. Leaves add a lemony aroma to tea.
Nepeta cataria: Catnip - Grows 3’ tall and wide in full sun. You and your cat can enjoy the soothing qualities of catnip. Steep leaves in water while kitty rolls euphorically at your feet. Place a basket over the plant if the cat loves it too much.
Chamomile - Roman (Chamaemelum nobile) is a mat forming plant. German (Matricaria recutita) is a 2’+ tall annual that is easy to seed. Use flowers for a relaxing tea.
Lavendula sp. Lavender - Evergreen shrubs in many sizes. Lavender thrives in full hot sun. ‘Compacta’, ‘Hidcote’, ‘Jean Davis’, and ‘Munstead’ are good dwarf varieties perfect for container culture. Use stems and flowers for a strong aromatic tea.
Melissa officinalis: Lemon Balm - A vigorous perennial 2 - 3’ tall. Prefers full sun. Pinch flowers to encourage leaves and discourage seed. Use leaves for a relaxing lemon tea.
Aloysia triphylla: Lemon Verbena - A bushy tender perennial growing 2 - 10’ tall. Wispy lavender flowers in summer. Harvest leaves for a wonderful lemon tea, or lemony cookies.
Mentha x piperta ‘Orange’: Orange Bergamot - Grows 1 - 3’ tall in full sun or partial shade. The leaves add a strong citrus flavor to tea.
Mentha x piperita: Peppermint - Grows up to 3’ tall. Full sun to light shade. It is said to soothe an upset tummy.
Salvia elegans: Pineapple Sage - A tender perennial reaching 2 - 3’ tall. Bright red flowers in late summer attract humming birds. Steep leaves for a fruity tea.
Rosa sp.: Rose hips - Size depends on variety. Very high in vitamin C, rose hips can be dried and stored for later use. They must be boiled in water for ten minutes to produce a tea. Use 2 Tbsp per pint of water.
Rosmarinus: Rosemary - Size of plant depends on variety. Trailing varieties will cascade over the pots. Thrives in full sun. Leaves offer a strong aromatic tea.
Pelargonium graveolens: Scented Geranium - Tender perennial, or annual. A wide range of varieties with many flavors to add to tea. For example, peppermint, apple, nutmeg, lemon, coconut and rose.
Mentha spicata: Spearmint - Grows 3’ tall in full sun or part shade. Use leaves in tea.
Stevia rebaudiana: Stevia - A tender perennial or annual. Leaves add a sweet taste to tea or your favorite cookies. Stevia is said to be ten times sweeter than sugar!
Camellia sinensis An evergreen shrub growing 3 - 6’ tall and wide. Small white or pink flowers in November. Prefers partial shade. Pick new leaves to brew your own cup of green tea.
Marriubium vulgare: White Horehound - Grows to 2’ in full sun. Seeped leaves make a strong tea that is said to relieve colds and sore throats.
Gaultheria procumbens: Wintergreen - An evergreen ground cover preferring partial shade. Red berries in winter. Pick and crush leaves for a nice wintergreen flavored tea.