Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Homemade Christmas: Create Your Own Tea Blends

I'm finding it hard to believe, but Christmas is just 6 weeks away!

Even thought I feel like I haven't planned for the big day as well as I usually do (largely because I didn't hit all that many yard sales this year, one of my main sources for great gifts at super low prices) I do feel like I have things pretty well under control and I already have everyone on my list covered except my immediate family members.

That's mainly because I have some great DIY gifts up my sleeve. I'm going to share a bunch of them with you over the next few weeks so you can make them, too! These are all going to be quick and easy to make (as well as being easy on the budget). And those of you that are on my gift list, no peeking on these posts unless you don't want any surprises under the tree!

I'm kicking things off with this post on how to create your own custom tea blends. You can make your own herbal teas using high quality organic herbs for *much* less than it costs to buy the boxed varieties! For example, you can buy 4 oz of organic peppermint leaf from Mountain Rose Herbs for just $3.25 (that amount is enough to almost fill a quart jar and lasts me for months!)

I think an herbal tea blend is a perfect gift for the holidays for many reasons:
  • it's easily customizable to the recipient
  • it takes literally minutes to mix together
  • just about everyone will appreciate a hot cup of tea in the middle of winter!
  • unlike many other food gifts, instead of contributing empty calories, it's likely to have health benefits (depending on what herbs you use in your blends)
As noted above, the actual act of blending a few herbs together doesn't take long at all. The more time-consuming part of preparing this gift will be researching what herbs you want to include (if you don't want to use any of my suggestions!) I think good blends for winter are those that include warming spices (such as chai teas), those that include a floral element such as rose, hibiscus or lavender (hints of beautifully coloured flower petals in the middle of winter will boost anyone's spirits!) and those that contain mint (a flavour we already associate with the holidays, and a helpful digestive aid as well as a general pick-me-up).

Here is the floral tea blend I will be making for gifts this year (pictured above). It's from the Book of Herbal Teas by Sara Perry and is very similar to the Hibiscus High Tea blend offered by Mountain Rose Herbs.

Floral tea blend:
1 part hibiscus flowers
1 part lemon verbena
1 part dried orange peel
1 part rosehips
1 part peppermint

Many recipes for herbal blends call for "parts" instead of specific measurements. This means it's really easy to customize the amounts to suit whatever quantity you want to make. I used one cup of each herb to make a large batch for multiple gifts, but you could use 1/4 cup of each or even 1 tbsp of each to make a much smaller amount.

Some other ideas to get you started:

Relaxing blend: lemon balm, chamomile and oatstraw

Lemon Lovers: lemon balm, lemon verbena, lemon grass and dried lemon peel

Lavender mint: 1 part lavender to 4 parts mint

Chocolate mint: 1 part cacao nibs to 4 parts peppermint

Beat the Winter Blues herbal tea from Frugally Sustainable

New Moon Tea (raspberry leaf, chamomile and lavender) from At Home Om

Calming Herbal Tea from Country Living Magazine

Lemony Chamomile Spearmint Tea from Fiskars

Tea Blending Guide from Mountain Rose Herbs

To brew a cup of tea, use 1 tsp of herbal tea blend to 8 oz boiling water.

If you create a particularly pleasing blend, I'd love to hear about it!

Where to find dried herbs for making teas:
If you have a local health food store with a bulk section, check there first!

I buy most of my herbs for tea making from Mountain Rose Herbs. They have great prices on high quality organic herbs (as well as culinary herbs and spices, tea blends and many other wonderful things!) Their shipping costs to Canada are fairly steep, but their prices are so good that the overall cost is still lower than anywhere else I've found for comparable quality products.

Note: The links to Mountain Rose are affiliate links and I will receive a commission from them (at no cost to you) for any purchases you make after clicking these links.
Mountain Rose Herbs. A herbs, health and harmony c 
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