How to make your own herbal tea blends

herbal tea steeping
CC BY 2.0 Marco Verch

Put kitchen scraps and spices to good use in these soothing, healing concoctions, perfect for a wintry day.

Using ingredients from your pantry and fridge, it's possible to concoct delicious homemade herbal tea blends. These can be tailored to suit your taste or mood on a particular day. They can make use of leftover, lingering ingredients that might otherwise go to waste. And they will cost a fraction of what you'd pay for a similar blend in a coffee shop.

Chef and cookbook author Heidi Swanson is a big fan of blending one's own tea, saying it's hard to go back to tea bags:

"This way, you're able to shape your blends to be as simple or complex as you like. You control the flavor profile and ingredients entirely, it's great. I liken it to making your own soup versus buying canned soup, and tend to bounce around from one blend to another."

Some tips:
- Add a teaspoon of loose-leaf black or green tea leaves if you want a bit of caffeine, but for pure herbal, you don't need any added tea at all.
- Be sure to add fresh herbs whenever you have them; it makes a big difference, though dried can do in a pinch.

Let's get started! What follows are a few ideas on which you can build, but really, the sky's the limit when it comes to making homemade teas.

  • Fresh mint + ginger slices + coriander seed + fennel seed + cumin seeds + peppercorns (recipe here)
  • Dried orange or lemon peels + cardamom + fresh turmeric
  • Fresh lemon + rosemary + honey
  • Black tea + sage + cinnamon
  • Whole dried red chile pepper + cinnamon + honey
  • Sliced fresh ginger + cardamom pods + peppercorns (add some coconut milk for extra creaminess, as this recipe suggests)
  • Carrot tops + honey + lemon
  • Basil + chamomile + lemon balm + lavender (via Food52)
  • Mint + strawberry leaves + powdered ginger
  • Dried rose hips + lemon grass + dried lemon peel + cinnamon
  • Celery leaves + thyme + celery seed
  • Apple slices + cinnamon sticks + fresh ginger + cayenne + vanilla + honey + green tea (recipe here)

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