Language pedants will insist that it should be called a herbal infusion, since herbal stuff isn’t part of the tea family of plants. Herbal tea is much easier to say and if we start calling it an infusion we’ll have to start calling peanut butter peanut paste, which is daggy in the extreme. Since herbal tea is hot, made with dry bits of plant and boiling water and it is comforting (just like camellia sinensis kind of tea), I’m going to call it tea. Just try and stop me.
Anyway after that little aside, here is Make It Your Own for another week. Hello.
Herbal tea is great stuff. It warms you up, has no caffeine, is not dehydrating, is thirst quenching, has about 10 kilojoules per cup and tastes nice too. Some of the very health-inducing kinds don’t taste very nice but they are good for what ails you. If you have room in your garden I can highly recommend growing some herbs to make into your own tea. Herbal tea that you make yourself has a greater depth of flavour than purchased herbal tea and you can be sure that no chemicals have been used in the processing of the tea or the bags.
HERBS TO GROW FOR HERBAL TEA
Mint, peppermint, catmint, lemon verbena, lemonbalm, lemon grass, chamomile, thyme, rosemary, californian poppy flowers. All these herbs are easy to grow and you should be able to find seedlings or small plants at garden centres.
Catmint, californian poppy flowers and chamomile are good if you need to relax. Thyme is an excellent expectorant if you have a chest cold. Rosemary will also help a cold. Lemonbalm is said to be good for depression. The mints and the lemony herbs taste good and improve the flavour of the less tasty ones.
Any of these herbs can be used fresh or dry. If fresh, put some sprigs of the herbs in a teapot or plunger and pour on boiling water. Allow to infuse for a few minutes. If you use the dry herbs, use about 1 teaspoon of herbs per cup of boiling water. Again, use a teapot or plunger and allow to infuse for a few minutes
DRYING THE HERBS
Mint, peppermint, catmint, lemonbalm, lemon verbena, thyme and rosemary can all be dried in bunches. Pick a bunch of the herbs and tie together with string. Hang up side down in a dry, airy place until they are crunchy. Strip the leaves off the stalks and store.
To dry lemongrass for tea, cut the stalks above the bulb section so you just have the flat green part. Tie them in a bunch and hang in a dry, airy place. When they are crunchy, cut the leaves into pieces with scissors and store.
To dry chamomile and californian poppy flowers, pick the flowers off the stems and put them in a paper bag. Cut a few holes in the bag. Tie the top with string and hang the bag in a dry, airy place.
STORING DRY HERBS
Keep your dried herbs in an air tight container in a cupboard. You can blend up the herbs in a jar and keep the jar conveniently in the cupboard with your tea and coffee. Alternatively, keep each herb in a separate jar and mix up or use singly as you like at the time.
SELBY’S YARN PICKS
Knit Picks Bare, natural undyed 100% merino, fingering weight/4ply, 100g hank.
To lay your hands on Knit Picks yarn, you need to have a friend who lives in the US who will be happy to receive your order and then post it to you. Fortunately I have a friend whose mother lives there so getting hold of Knit Picks products isn’t too difficult. The 4ply Bare is worth the effort.
It is a natural undyed yarn, sold in 100g hanks so that you can dye it yourself. It’s squishy, cuddly Peruvian merino that takes dye like a dream and knits well too. The weight is perfect for socks. Some Knit Picks yarns are not the best quality but the undyed seems to be very good, but then you can’t really go wrong with merino. I have dyed mine with both food colouring and Rit. Both methods produced clear results and the yarn seemed to suck the dye up like it was born to. I am very happy with my Knit Picks Bare. For a picture, go to knitpicks.com but be prepared to be disappointed that they won’t ship to Australia. (You can get the sets of interchangeable needles at Tapestry Craft in Sydney but none of the other products.) If you can find (or make) a friend in the US, get some Bare and have a go at dyeing.
IN OTHER NEWS
I joined the Adelaide Spinners and Weavers Guild on the weekend and went along to the spinning group this morning. They were very friendly and helpful. I have hired an Ashford wheel and I started spinning some grey English Leicester tops. If you are driving along South Rd in Mile End on a Wednesday or Saturday, I encourage you to have a look in the gallery. You’ll recognise the building because it has a yellow spinning wheel parked out the front. You can buy all sorts of hand spun and hand knitted garments and hand spun yarn for your own knitting projects.
It’s cold and wet. I’m off to make some tea (black, normal tea this time), turn the heater on and do some knitting. Maybe I’ll read a little too. I’m ploughing through Les Miserables for the second time (1200 pages, very small type, need my extra strong reading glasses). What a fantastic book. Love it.
Wishing all my readers a good week. Please leave a comment and thanks to those who have commented. Tell your friends about my blog. I’m rather proud of it.