I consider myself to be a tea granny. Growing up, my parents regularly had a pot of black tea steeping in the kitchen. To this day, black tea with milk and sugar is my “comfort food.” But over the years, I have also discovered a wide variety of different teas, from flavoured rooibos to Japanese greens to herbal remedies like chamomile. In the last few years I’ve enjoyed growing (and drying) my own herbal teas – I especially enjoy spearmint and lemon verbena (shown in the feature photo).
All this is to say I was very excited when I saw the book Homegrown Tea by Cassie Liversidge, a UK-based author who has also written Pasta Sauce! Grow Your Own Ingredients. The book opens with information about growing the actual tea plant, Camellia sinensis, from which you can harvest your white, green and black teas. Despite the fact I don’t live at a high altitude — or in Asia, for that matter — apparently I can grow tea in my garden. It’s worth noting that tea plants will require a bit more care than the hardy stuff in my garden. But it’s something I really want to try. I’m hoping I can find a nursery in Southern Ontario that sells plants as Camellia sinensis can be slow to germinate and grow from seed.
The rest of the book features gorgeous photos and illustrations of other teas you can grow and brew, from herbs and seeds to flowers, fruits and roots. You will find harvest information, brewing tips and cute little sidebars called “Tea Bag Friends” that read like little nuggets of advice from a trusted confidante.
This book has inspired me to expand beyond my usual tea menu. I already have bergamot, mint and chamomile growing from seed, but I’ll keep my eye out for other tea-worthy plants when I start putting everything in the ground.
Do you like to brew your own teas? What blends are your favourites?