Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Grow Your Own Iced Tea This Summer

Popular
Grow Your Own Iced Tea This Summer
Alice Day / EyeEm / Getty Images

By Brian Barth

Where I come from — the Deep South — iced tea is a religion. Traditionally, most Southern families make it with Lipton tea bags, a little lemon and a lot of sugar. The sole ingredient in those Lipton bags is black tea, which comes from the Camellia sinensis plant. The species was once grown on a limited commercial scale in the South, but today it's produced primarily in Asia. Gardeners in mild-winter areas can grow the traditional "tea" plant (warning: it's finicky), but green thumbs everywhere can easily grow perfectly suitable substitutes that combine into a delicious, caffeine-free iced tea.


Use these herbs fresh or dried. Simply steep them in boiling water and refrigerate. Add sweeteners to taste.

1. Mint

There are innumerable mint varieties and most spread like weeds, so you might want to confine your mint to a pot or planter. Spearmint has a sharper flavor, with an abundance of that prototypical clean-feeling minty taste. Peppermint is a little less minty and more vegetal — in other words, it adds more of a "tea" flavor to your tea blend without making it overly minty. It's worth experimenting with different flavored varieties, such as grapefruit mint and chocolate mint. Mint is a cold-hardy perennial that thrives in moist, partly shaded areas with rich soil.

2. Lemon Balm

Also called Melissa officinalis, this herb combines the slightly bitter flavor of green tea with lemon flavor. It can be used on its own for iced tea (it just needs a bit of sweetener) or in combination with other herbs. Closely related to the mint family, it thrives in partial shade and is prone to spreading throughout the garden.

3. Lemon Verbena

A lemon-flavored herb for gardeners in mild-winter areas, lemon verbena leaves have a similar flavor to lemon balm but are sweeter, with no bitter aftertaste. The plant grows into an upright head-high shrub but can be easily kept smaller in a container so that you can bring it indoors for overwintering.

4. Anise Hyssop

This knee-high cold-hardy perennial bears attractive foliage and large purple flower clusters that are adored by bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects. As the name suggests, the herb has a licorice flavor. It's a bit much to drink tea made entirely from anise hyssop, but it adds a complementary sweetness when blended in small quantities with mint and lemony herbs.

5. Tea

All green, black and white teas originate from this attractive evergreen camellia bush. Many gardeners find that it fails to thrive unless a narrow set of growing conditions are provided: light shade, high humidity, acidic soil (a pH below 5.5), excellent drainage and high organic matter content. Realistically, most home gardeners harvest white tea (the tiny growing tips in early spring) or green tea (the fully developed leaves later in spring and summer), as black tea involves a lengthy drying and fermenting process.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Modern Farmer.

Presidential nominee Joe Biden has not taken a stance on gas exports, including liquefied natural gas. Ken Hodge / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 2.0

By Simon Montlake

For more than a decade, Susan Jane Brown has been battling to stop a natural gas pipeline and export terminal from being built in the backcountry of Oregon. As an attorney at the nonprofit Western Environmental Law Center, she has repeatedly argued that the project's environmental, social, and health costs are too high.

All that was before this month's deadly wildfires in Oregon shrouded the skies above her home office in Portland. "It puts a fine point on it. These fossil fuel projects are contributing to global climate change," she says.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Eating lots of fruits and vegetables will boost the immune system. Stevens Fremont / The Image Bank / Getty Images

By Grayson Jaggers

The connection between the pandemic and our dietary habits is undeniable. The stress of isolation coupled with a struggling economy has caused many of us to seek comfort with our old friends: Big Mac, Tom Collins, Ben and Jerry. But overindulging in this kind of food and drink might not just be affecting your waistline, but could potentially put you at greater risk of illness by hindering your immune system.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A graphic shows how Rhoel Dinglasan's smartphone-based saliva test works. University of Florida

As the world continues to navigate the line between reopening and maintaining safety protocols to slow the spread of the coronavirus, rapid and accurate diagnostic screening remains critical to control the outbreak. New mobile-phone-based, self-administered COVID-19 tests being developed independently around the world could be a key breakthrough in making testing more widely available, especially in developing nations.

Read More Show Less
A meteorologist monitors weather in NOAA's Center for Weather and Climate Prediction on July 2, 2013 in Riverdale, Maryland. Mark Wilson / Getty Images

The Trump White House is now set to appoint two climate deniers to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in one month.

Read More Show Less
A plastic bag caught in a tree in New Jersey's Palisades Park. James Leynse / Stone / Getty Images

New Jersey is one step closer to passing what environmental advocates say is the strongest anti-plastic legislation in the nation.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch