Teas and tisanes can be made at home using herbs, roots, seeds and leaves you can grow yourself or buy at the market. Look beyond Camellia sinensis, the evergreen plant that makes up so much of our tea, and see which plants can be harvested for a perfect cup.
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All have different health benefits, and many can even be grown inside. Try one of these plants on its own or mix and match flavors for your own creations.
Bee balm gives tea a minty flavor. (Photo: Johnathan J. Stegeman/Wikimedia Commons)
Bee balm (Monarda didyma) is one of the more dazzling looking herbs. A member of the mint family, bee balm leaves are a delicious addition to homemade teas, and when grown in the garden, they attract pollinators like butterflies, hummingbirds and bees.
Lemon balm makes for a refreshing and relaxing addition to a cup of tea. (Photo: Forest and Kim Starr/flickr)
Another member of the mint family, lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is known for its calming properties. The University of Maryland Medical Center reports that it has been used to help with insomnia and anxiety. As for its flavor, it's nice and lemony making it a refreshing and relaxing addition to your tea.
Dried lavender is a little more potent than fresh lavender, so adjust your tea serving accordingly. (Photo: Mats Hagwall/flickr)
Used for aromatherapy, insomnia, headaches and anxiety, lavender (Lavandula) is a versatile plant. The blossoms make a lovely ingredient for tea. Dry blossoms are a little stronger so, when adding them to tea, use about two-thirds less than you would with fresh blossoms.
Only the leaves and stems are used to make tea from yaupon. (Photo: ilouque/flickr)
Yaupon (Ilex vomitoria) was a popular plant to make tea from about 1,000 years ago. According to NPR, Native American traders dried, packed and shipped the tea, and it was also used in purification rituals — and those rituals are likely what led to the plant's confusing Latin name. Just like Camellia sinensis, yaupon contains caffeine making it a great tea for those who like a little pick-me-up. Yaupon has recently received more attention, especially because the hardy tree can still flourish during times of drought. As for its flavor, it’s similar to black tea.
Put aside some of this cat treat for a minty, lemony flavor in your own tea. (Photo: Matt Lavin/flickr)
Everyone knows that cats go crazy for catnip (Nepeta). Many roll in it, eat it and rub their faces on it. Humans tend to be a bit more dignified in their uses of this herb. We like to make tea with the dried leaves because of the minty and lemony flavor. Next time you grow catnip for your cat, harvest a little extra for yourself and add it to your tea.
Often combined with other herbs, passion flower is added to teas to aid with sleep. (Photo: Muffet / liz west/Wikimedia Commons)
This flower is so beautiful, you might not want to cultivate the plant. However, because passion flower (Passiflora) is reported to help calm one's nerves and aid with sleep, you might be tempted to. The parts of the plant that grow above ground are used for tea. This plant is often combined with other herbs.
While the fruit from rose hips is a little sour tasting, it does make for a good tea filled with antioxidants. (Photo: Malcolm Manners/flickr)
Besides being a beautiful red color, rose hips (Rosa canina), the fruit from the rose plant, have a lot to offer for one's health. The sour-tasting red fruit offer vitamin C and beneficial amounts of high phenolic and flavonoid antioxidants. Rose hips may also help with inflammation.
Mint is great in many teas, but just be careful with where you plant it. (Photo: Forest and Kim Starr/flickr)
If you’ve ever planted mint (Mentha), you know how quickly it spreads. Plant even a little and you’ll end up with enough to regularly enjoy a nice cup of mint tea. The refreshing flavor of mint is a favorite for teas, and it's one of the easiest and cheapest herbs to grow. Just don't grow it with other sensitive plants because mint has a tendency to take over.