Living Arts Wednesday: Planting a “Tea” Garden

May 20, 2020

To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.  – Audrey Hepburn


The soil in the garden is warming as summer approaches and this is a great time to plant a “tea” garden! We all enjoy drinking a cup of tea with friends and family and a teas made from leaves and flowers picked in your garden is especially nice!  This is a wonderful project to do with your children and all you need is a few pots and good quality potting soil…and the plants!!

Find an outdoor space that gets sun at least half the day…some morning or afternoon shade is okay as long as it’s not dense shade…but sun is essential at least 4 to 6 hours a day. Use pots you already have or purchase at least two 18″ to 24″ tall pots that measure at least 14″ to 18″ in diameter at the top. If you don’t already have garden soil you can use try a good quality potting soil that has some chicken manure in it.

If you have neighbors who garden ask them if you can have plant cuttings of mints, scented lemon geraniums and lemon balm. All of these root easily in a jar of water. If you prefer, you can purchase 2″ pots of the same plants and also chamomile and lemon verbena, which grows a lot and deserves a pot for itself,  assorted tiny violas, thyme and anise hyssop. My tea garden has just mints, lemon verbena and lemon balm and with just that I make the most delicious garden tea! Mints tend to get unruly and spread like crazy if grown directly in the garden so please consider a potted garden for these tea plants!

As long as you do not use toxic pesticides, many other flower petals ( lavender, violets, rose, calendula) and even verbena leaves can go into a cup of garden tea.

When the plants have grown in their sunny and well watered pots, harvest a few leaves and stems. Immerse in water to rinse well; drain and pat dry.

Making tea: Loosely pack leaves inside a teapot, filling just over halfway. Add hot but not scalding water; let steep for 15 to 25 minutes to preferred strength. Serve immediately with honey if desired.

Sun Tea: This take an entire day to brew, but sun teas are well worth the wait. This light and refreshing tea is flexible, so, don’t sweat exact quantities and ingredients. Experiment with different ­varieties growing in your garden, especially anything that needs a heavy pruning.

After these weeks of social isolation we can soon invite a few friends to tea…outside in the garden…sitting 6 feet apart of course…but enjoying our friendships and the many gifts the garden brings!