There’s a chill in the fall air which can only mean one thing… it’s Tea Time! Tea has all the makings of a good gift. It’s practical, appropriate for both men and women, will stay fresh for a long time and is delicious. It’s also easy to make yourself. Start off with a base of black tea leaves and add additional flavors, or create an herbal or floral concoction from fresh ingredients. Have fun, experiment and give away a lot of tea!
How to Preserve Flowers and Herbs for Tea
Tie together a bundle of stems with the leaves and flowers intact. Hang the bundle from the ends of the stems (clip hangers work well for this) and leave the bundle in a warm, dark place for about two weeks. Check back often to assess the progress. The bundles are done when the petals are dry and leathery and when the leaves are brittle and crack easily.
Lay out rows of individual petals or leaves on a paper towel, making sure there are no overlapping pieces. Lay the paper towel in the microwave and place another paper towel on top. Start the microwave at 30 seconds at 80 percent power. Check frequently to see how the pieces are drying, adjusting the microwave settings according to the progress.
To make lavender tea, all you need is dried lavender flowers. Once you’ve dried a bundle of lavender stalks, run your fingers down the stalks to collect the flowers and package them for a delicious decaffeinated tea.
Tea Time Packaging
Glass Container. Store the loose-leaf tea inside small glass jars with lids, such as jam or sauce jars. Finish off the packaging with a length of ribbon or twine around each jar. You could even include a small card with the name of your tea and brewing instructions.
Silk Sachet Bags. These are available at any craft store and make perfect gift bags for loose-leaf tea. The tea will smell delicious through the fine mesh, and the sachets will double as reusable tea bags.
DIY Tea Bags. Cut out rectangles from coffee filters, then fold the rectangles in half and hand sew the sides of the bags closed. Insert enough tea for one cup, then fold down the top of each bag and sew it shut. Secure a string or thread to each bag and add a paper heart or sticker to the end.
Tea Blends to Try
Combine 2 part rooibos, 1 part dried rose petals, 1 part chamomile flowers and ½ part dried hibiscus petals. Mix well and store in an airtight container.
Combine 2 parts black or white tea leaves, 1 part dried strawberry bits, 1 part dried apple bits and ½ part dried rosehips. Mix well and store in an airtight container.
Combine 1 part black tea leaves, ½ part crushed cinnamon sticks, ½ part crushed whole cloves, ½ part crushed whole allspice and ¼ part ground nutmeg. Mix well and store in an airtight container
Chocolate Vanilla Tea
Combine 2 parts black tea leaves, 2 parts cocoa nibs and ½ part chopped vanilla beans. Mix well and store in an airtight container.
Combine 1 part raspberry leaves, 1 part dandelion roots, ½ part dandelion flowers, ½ part basil leaves and ¼ part chopped vanilla beans or crushed cinnamon sticks. Mix well and store in an airtight container.
If you want to make caffeinated tea, start your blend with a black, white or green tea base. If you want a decaffeinated blend, skip the base.
Want more tea time ideas? Check out this post on How to Host a Literary Tea Party.