We all know that growing things is good for us, so why not take this a step further and grow a few herbs to use in your own infusions? Garden herbs have been used for hundreds of years for supposed medical benefits- and just because some of them taste really nice! You don't even need a garden because a lot of herbs will grow on a windowsill (I once grew chamomile in a fancy teacup on a sunny spot beside my bed.)
These herbs are great for a starter garden because they're either easy to grow from seed or buy as plants:
- Mint- there are loads of different types of mint, from the traditional peppermint and spearmint, to Moroccan mint and interesting modern varieties such as 'berries and cream' and pineapple mint!
- Sage- traditionally paired with meat as a stuffing, this herb has been used as a tea for centuries to cure coughs. You can now get a fruity blackcurrant sage if you don't quite fancy drinking a tea that tastes like stuffing!
- Melissa (lemon balm)- this hardy plant smells and tastes like lemon and is beautiful on a hot day as the scent wafts on the air. Garden writer Alys Fowler in her book 'A Modern Herbal' recommends using a few leaves with crushed fennel seeds (you can also grow fennel, but it grows tall, so not a windowsill herb!) and honey in hot water as a cold remedy. I can confirm that it is both delicious and can ease a sore throat. It is now known in my house as 'hippie lemsip'!
- Chamomile- famous for millennia for its healing properties (too many to list here!), nowadays we've left behind some of the weirder so-called cures and it is used mainly to help aid sleep. Add with a little honey and you're good to go!
If you're interested in making your own teas, you should pick a few leaves of your chosen herbs and crush gently before you put in a teapot of boiling water. Allow to brew for up to ten minutes and experiment to find out what flavours suit your palate. Of course, if you are on any medication, please check with your doctor before drinking any herbal tea, as some may interact with certain medicines.