How to Make Your Own Herbal Tea Blends

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)