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¡Jueves en el Jardín!

Thu, 2012-09-20
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See what’s growing in the Edible Teaching Garden every Thursday!

¿Quién toma té con este calor? Who drinks tea in this heat? Some might not regard tea as a summer drink, but served cold or with ice, teas can be an excellent way to cool down in this lingering summer heat.

This past weekend, the Edible Teaching Garden at LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes celebrated Mexican Independence Day with refreshing iced herbal teas!

It’s well-established that herbal teas, when properly made, offer tremendous health benefits. For example, chamomile is great for relaxation; fennel works wonders to soothe an upset stomach; stinging nettle adds iron and other minerals to the blood.

In the Edible Teaching Garden’s tea tasting workshops, we make our iced herbal teas without sweeteners. This allows the natural flavors to shine through—and makes for a great alternative to artificially sweetened drinks.

The key to good herbal iced teas is buying the best quality herbs. Here are a few tips:

• Buy dried, cut, and sifted herbs from a reputable source.
• Buy in bulk! Go straight for the loose herbs, instead of herbs sold in little tea bags.
• Ensure that herbs are no more than six months to one year old.
• Herbs should have a strong, sharp scent.
• Buy a half pound or more of the herb of your choice.

For first-time herb buyers, finding a reputable source might be tedious, especially if you’re buying herbs online. A good place to start is on of our favorite spots, Mountain Rose Herbs http://www.mountainroseherbs.com in Oregon. Locally, we also enjoy visiting Herbs of Mexico https://herbsofmexico.com in East L.A. for their selection.

Some of our favorite teas at LA Plaza include:
• Chamomile to soothe the nerves.
• Fennel to relieve stomach aches and indigestion.
• Basil to reduce nausea.
• Mint to freshen breath.

How to prepare your own iced tea at home:
1) In a large pot, bring one gallon of spring or filtered water to a boil. Turn off heat.
2) Add herbs. One heaping cup of dried herbs per gallon is a safe bet. Stir the herbs in and cover the pot. Let the tea steep for 10-15 minutes.
3) Remove the cover and let the tea sit for another half an hour or until it has cooled down.
4) Strain the tea into any suitable container, i.e. a decanter, large glass jar, etc.
5) Refrigerate or add ice cubes to cool. Enjoy!

For those who prefer their tea sweetened, try agave syrup or honey!

What do you do with the residual herbs? Reuse them by spreading them around veggies in your garden. As mulch, these scraps can help plants retain moisture—which means less watering!

Stay tuned next Thursday for more gardening tips and do-it-yourself projects!!