My favourite way to enjoy some of the herbs from my garden is in a tea/infusion.  There’s something special about picking fresh leaves and making tea with them. They can help our wellness with their therapeutic benefits.

Annual, summer-loving herbs are generally unavailable during the colder months but you can still enjoy them during this time if you harvest them before they disappear.

Harvesting, drying and storing the herbs is a simple thing to do.  You feel quite empowered knowing you have grown and nurtured them from your own garden.  

I still have the following herbs in my garden but they are starting to dwindle now that the cooler days are here.  I’ve been harvesting and drying as much as I can so I can enjoy them and their gentle medicine throughout winter. These dried herbs can also be used to nourish and season your winter dinners.

 

Here is a brief outline of 3 herbs I’m currently harvesting and how their therapeutic properties support our wellbeing.

TULSI BASIL aka HOLY BASIL (Ocimum tenuiflorum)

Holy Basil tea

Tulsi is a sacred symbol of protection, love and purification in the Hindu tradition.

This has to be one of my favourite herbs.  It is a deliciously aromatic tea, a great afternoon pick-me-up or anytime of day really.

It is revered as one of India’s most sacred and powerful herbs and prized for its medicinal uses especially for calming and uplifting therapeutics.  It is also planted outside homes and temples to purify and bless the surroundings.  Next season, I’ll definitely plant a pot outside our door … for easy access and good blessings 🥰.

There are at least 3 different types of Tulsi Basil which are quite different to the common basil, Ocimum basilicum which we usually use with food. 

Tulsi Basil’s strength is as an adaptogen.  Adaptogens and strengthening and nourishing herbs and, when taken on a regular basis, can support our wellbeing and help restore equilibrium.

VIRTUES:

Tulsi Basil’s virtues are vast including benefits to cardiovascular and respiratory systems due its antioxidant, expectorant and anti-inflammatory properties to name a few.  

It is also very supportive of the nervous system and can help to increase mental focus and clarity.  When feeling scattered or have distracted thinking Tulsi Basil tea can be both calming and centering.  Combined with lemon balm it can create a very helpful tea in supporting calm and focus.

Tulsi can also be enjoyed as a culinary herb especially in pesto and pasta dishes.

TEA RITUAL:

A general guide is 2 teaspoons of dried leaf and flower to 1 cup water, three times a day to help foster a sense of calm and balance.

A general guide is 2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon of dried leaf and flower to 1 cup water, three times a day.

SAFETY NOTE:

Avoid during pregnancy or if trying to conceive.

LEMON BALM (Melissa officinalis)

Lemon Balm Infusion

“The elixir of life” – Paracelsus

Lemon balm gets its common name from the fresh, lemony aroma and taste and her flowers are a favourite with the bees.

She is quite special to have in the garden and in the past has been affectionately titled the ‘herbal cure-all’ with a superpower that calms and help relieve anxiety.

VIRTUES:

This gentle herb has a wonderful ability to soothe the nervous system.  She gently calms, encourages relaxation and helps to strengthen a frazzled spirit.  Her ability to calm and soothe also extends to easing headaches and upset tummies and in particular irritable bowel syndrome.

If you want to read more about Lemon Balm I have written a post in my journal … Lemon Balm Notes + Ritual

TEA RITUAL:

Lemon balm is gentle and calming as a hot tea, and refreshing and soothing as iced tea.  It blends well with lemonade as a refreshing drink in the summer.

A general guide is 2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon of dried leaf and flower to 1 cup water, three times a day.

Tip – it is best to harvest lemon balm before she begins to flower.  

SAFETY NOTE:

If you have an underactive thyroid, it is best to avoid consuming Lemon Balm in excess.

BEE BALM (Monarda spp.)

Bee Balm Tea

In the language of flowers, Monarda symbolises compassion and sympathy.

An aromatic herb that has beautiful flowers which attracts lots of beneficial insects and is a good one to grow in your garden to help our ailing bee population.  Bee Balm doesn’t just help the bees with a rich history both medicinally and in ritualistic work..

Bee Blam is a very aromatic, spicy and pungent herb and her strength is in helping to treat colds, coughs and respiratory congestion.  Her taste can be quite strong and isn’t one that I would drink solely on its own on a daily basis but instead when I need her therapeutic support the most.  You can also include a couple of leaves + flowers in a daily herbal tea blend which is very beneficial in helping to support our wellbeing.

Bee Balm comes from the mint family and her leaves and flowers are both edible.  There are several species of Bee Balm which have overlapping medicinal virtues.

Note: Bee Balm can also be known as Bergamot but not to be confused with Bergamot essential oil which is totally different and is cold pressed from the rind of the bitter orange fruit from the Citrus aurantium tree.

VIRTUES:

Bee Balm’s antiseptic, antibacterial, diaphoretic and anticatarrhal strengths are helpful in clearing respiratory congestion, particularly in the sinus area as well as helping to ease chesty coughs.  

Even though Bee Balm has stimulating properties that help in clearing congestion, it also has gentle relaxant and nervine therapeutics that are particularly good at soothing a frazzled and stressed nervous system.

RITUAL:

2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon of dried leaf and/or flower to 1 cup water, three times a day.

Adding orange peels (spray-free) to your tea will give it a delicious bergamot flavor.

The leaves are helpful in steams to clear the sinus and to make the whole house smell nice!

 

SAFETY NOTE:

Do not use during pregnancy.  Due to its spiciness it may also aggravate heartburn.

Harvest your Herbs

HARVESTING HERBS FOR TEAS + CULINARY USE:

Always harvest your herbs mid to late morning on a dry day.  Discard any plant material that does not look healthy.

There are 2 main ways you can dry herbal leaves and flowers.

Tie herbs in bunches hanging upside down somewhere dry, airy and out of direct sunlight.  For plants that drop their flowers and seeds when they dry, place a paper bag over the herb to catch the material when it falls.

Or, you can pick the leaves from the stems and place on a drying screen or absorbent paper towel somewhere dry and airy as above.  Make sure there is good spacing with no overlapping.  Once the leaves are dry (2-4 days) store in a  glass jar away from direct sunlight.

Other herbs that you may have in the garden which are great to harvest for teas and culinary use are Chamomile, Lavender, Thyme, Lemon Verbena, Rosemary, Lemongrass and Mint.

Resources:

Blankespoor, Juliet.  2022.  The Healing Garden; Cultivating & Handcrafting Herbal Remedies.  HarperCollins Publishers, New York, USA.