Home Grown Iced Teas From Four Sizzling Hot Summer Plants
by Laurelynn Martin, Logee’s Co-Owner
There’s nothing as refreshing as a long sip of iced tea on a hot summer’s day. With a little bit of planning, these four plants will provide you with healthy, cool drinks this summer. I love all of these teas for different reasons…
The Roselle Jamaican Hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa) tea plant produces a bright red beverage full of vitamin C. I especially love drinking this in the afternoon while sitting on my porch shaded from the blazing sun. I can’t decide if the pick me up is from the rich red color or simply from the high dose of vitamin C in every glass. Roselle Jamaican Hibiscus is brewed from the deep red sepals and calyces, which form the day after flowering. The calyx is 1-2” across and has 5 large, fleshy sepals. Harvest right away and brew for tea; if left on the plant they turn into seed pods.
The next iced tea called Tulsi tea or Holy Basil ‘Krishna’ (Ocimum sanctum) is medicinal and has been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine to reduce stress and promote mental clarity. I like to drink this tea over ice if I’m feeling a little run down or need a little bit of time to simply chill out from all of the summer festivities and activities. Holy Basil is easy to grow in containers or directly in your garden. This tea, also known as the “elixir of life” in its native India, is brewed from the clove-scented foliage.
Sometimes there is nothing better than straight-up black iced tea. This is where the Tea Plant (Camellia sinensis) comes in. I use the young shoots of the plant and dry the leaves for a mellow, pleasing black tea. If you harvest the tender juvenile leaves, then you can make the highly sought after white tea. Given the amount of juvenile leaves needed, it’s easy to see how white tea is indeed a delicacy. Camellia sinensis makes a wonderful potted plant that reaches 3-5’ tall and blooms in springtime.
Finally, Yerba Mate (Ilex paraguariensis) is one of my favorite morning drinks for its amazing caffeine content. Since I’m a coffee drinker, Yerba Mate provides the closest to coffee “pick-me-up” sensation. In fact, in South America, there are Mate Bars, similar to coffee cafes in the United States. With a smoother taste than green tea, Yerba Mate is loaded with antioxidants. It makes a wonderful potted plant with graceful full-leafed branches. Under warm temperatures, it grows throughout the year, even in the north as a potted plant. Flowers arrive during the winter and spring months. The leaves can be harvested once the plant is established.
How to Make Your Own Iced Tea
Drinking tea, whether iced or hot, has many benefits. But I think you’ll enjoy having a potted tea garden where you can harvest and make your own teas year-round and then relax and drink the fruits of your labor.
Making iced tea from your own plants is an easy process:
- Simply prune a branch with leaves and then break off the leaves. A small handful of fresh tea leaves will make one cup of tea.
- Use a mortar and pestle to crush the fresh tea leaves and add to filtered water and ice. To have a more concentrated flavor, dry the tea leaves and crush the leaves.
- Use one tablespoon of dried crushed leaves for one cup of tea. If you like a lighter tea, use three tablespoons per pot of tea and let steep in hot water.
- Cool over ice.
I hope you enjoyed learning how to make tasty home-made iced tea using your own plants. Click below to learn more about each of the plants mentioned in this article:
- Roselle Jamaican Hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa)
- Tea Plant (Camellia sinensis)
- Yerba Mate (Ilex paraguariensis)
- Holy Basil ‘Krishna’ (Ocimum sanctum)