By Colleen Vanderlinden, Planet Green
Few things say “summer” like a refreshing glass of iced tea. While traditional iced tea, or even iced green tea, is delicious, making herbal iced teas allows you to add different flavors, as well as vitamins, to your day. With that in mind, here are five great, cooling herbs to grow for tea.
5 Refreshing Herbs for Tea
1. Lemon Verbena
Lemon verbena has a wonderful lemony aroma, but actually tastes somewhat like licorice. It has been shown to have a cooling effect on the body (even to the extent of being recommended as a fever reducer). In addition, it has been shown to calm upset stomachs and coughs.
Brewing Lemon Verbena Tea: Steep 1/4 teaspoon of fresh leaves in one cup of boiling water for five minutes. Add honey to taste, if desired. Better drunk hot than as iced tea.
2. Lemon Balm
Lemon balm, a member of the mint family, has a wonderful lemony scent and flavor. It has been shown to be a calming herb, and is therefore perfect to drink before bed.
Brewing Lemon Balm Tea: For a hot tea infusion, steep one and a half tablespoons of fresh lemon balm leaves in one cup of boiling water, and let it steep for up to 10 minutes, depending on how strong you like your tea. For a cooling lemon balm infusion, simply add a cup (or more) of fresh leaves to a pitcher of cold water, and let it steep in the refrigerator overnight. Strain the leaves out, and drink.
3. Lemon Grass
Lemon grass is typically thought of as more of a cooking herb, popular in Asian cuisine. But it also makes a wonderfully refreshing, lemony tea. Lemon grass has cooling properties, often being prescribed among practitioners of natural healing as a fever reducer. It has also been shown to aid blood circulation, reduce menstrual cramping, and alleviate indigestion.
Brewing Lemon Grass Tea: Add 1/4 cup of fresh lemon grass leaves to a cup of boiling water, and let it steep for three minutes. You can either drink the tea hot, or add ice cubes for a quick, refreshing iced lemon grass tea.
Within the mint family, there are plenty of great options for making tea: peppermint, spearmint, apple mint, and orange mint are a few of the most popular. The aroma of mint has a cooling effect, and it offers several health benefits, providing a rich source of vitamins A and C, and helping to reduce indigestion.
How to Brew Mint Tea: Add two tablespoons of fresh mint to one cup of boiling water, let it steep for three to five minutes, and strain. You can drink it hot, or add ice for a really refreshing iced tea. Mint can also be added to any of the other teas on this list for added flavor and cooling properties.
Borage is probably the least common herb on this list, but it’s definitely worth a try. The leaves and flowers have a cucumber flavor. It is a potent cooling herb, even increasing sweat production (and thus, great for cleansing the body of toxins). It is a diuretic and decongestant that has also been shown to have calming properties. Because of all of these traits, it is not a good idea to drink a lot of borage tea for an extended period of time. A cup or so a day will give you plenty of cooling without overburdening your system.
How to Brew Borage Tea: Steep one tablespoon of fresh borage leaves in a cup of boiling water, and let it steep for three minutes. Strain, and drink hot or add ice.
You can augment the flavor of any of these teas by adding honey, citrus juice, or the zest of lemons, oranges, or limes (strained out with the leaves).