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4 Plants to Grow and Steep for Your Next Spot of Tea

Grow these plants right in your own backyard and brew delicious teas from various parts of the plant, whether leaves, flowers, fruits, seeds or roots. As with any edible plant, proper identification and research into medicinal uses are key before consuming.

By Lori A. Johnson

Lemon Verbena (Aloysia triphylla)

  • Shrub
  • Blooms: White; spring and summer
  • 6′-8’H by 6′-8’W
  • Well-drained soil
  • Zones 8-11
  • Full sun
  • Medium water; low maintenance
  • Attracts: Insects

A refreshing bedtime tea can be made from lemon verbena leaves by infusing 1 teaspoon (dried) or 2 teaspoons (fresh) leaves in hot water and steeping for up to 15 minutes. Note that while lemon verbena is known for treating digestive disorders, prolonged use or large doses can cause gastric irritation.

WHY WE LIKE IT: Due to its delicious lemony flavor, fresh leaves are also used in salads, while dried leaves can retain their citrus aroma for several years. Its strong lemon-scented essential oil is said to have a calming effect and is often used in aromatherapy and perfumery.

Myrtle (Myrtus communis)

  • Shrub
  • Blooms: White ;spring to summer
  • 4′-6’H by 3′-5’W
  • Well-drained soil
  • Zones 8-11
  • Full to partial sun
  • Medium water; low maintenance
  • Attracts: Bees, birds

Myrtle is said to contain medicinal properties, including its use as an anti-inflammatory and as a digestive aid. To make tea, add a handful of fresh leaves to boiling water and let steep for five minutes. The leaves can also be used in cooked savory dishes as a substitute for bay leaves.

WHY WE LIKE IT:  This drought-tolerant ornamental plant has aromatic white flowers that bloom in the spring and summer, followed by berries, both of which are edible. In the Mediterranean, either leaves or berries are also used to produce two different varieties of an aromatic liqueur called Mirto.

Chicory (Cichorium intybus)

  • Perennial
  • Blooms: Lavender-blue; spring to fall
  • 2′-4’H by 1′-2’W
  • Well-drained soils
  • Zones 3-9
  • Full sun
  • Medium water; medium maintenance
  • Attracts: Bees, butterflies

Chicory root can be boiled and eaten as a vegetable but is often baked, ground and used as a coffee substitute to reduce caffeine intake. Just add 2 tablespoons of ground chicory root to a coffeemaker for every cup of water. In the low desert, chicory is best grown as a cool-season annual.

WHY WE LIKE IT: With its entire plant edible, chicory has a long history of medicinal uses reaching as far back as the ancient Egyptians. In the 21st century, a chicory root extract called inulin was developed and is commonly used as a sweetener in food manufacturing and as a source of prebiotic dietary fiber.

Jasmine (Jasminum officinale)

  • Vine
  • Blooms: White; spring to fall
  • 2′-10’H by 2′-15’W
  • Well-drained soil
  • Zones 7-10B
  • Full to partial sun
  • Medium water; low maintenance
  • Attracts: Bees, butterflies, hummingbirds

Jasmine flowers are often used as flavorings in tea, especially green tea, and as a garnish. To make tea, add loose-leaf green or black tea to the bottom of a jar and top it with fresh jasmine flowers, followed by another layer of tea. Compress the contents, cover the jar, and let sit for 24 hours before brewing.

WHY WE LIKE IT: Jasmine can be trained to grow on trellises, arbors and fences but can also be grown in containers. Its ornamental and highly fragrant star-shaped flowers produce essential oils renowned for use in aromatherapy, as well as in perfumes, cosmetics and skincare products.


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