Quantcast

Grow Your Own Iced Tea This Summer

Popular
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.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

"It would be great to see all the candidates join Elizabeth Warren in taking the No Big Ag Money Pledge," said Citizens Regeneration Lobby's Alexis Baden-Mayer. Peter Blanchard / Flickr / ric (CC BY 2.0)

By Andrea Germanos

Food system justice and environmental advocates on Wednesday urged all Democratic presidential hopefuls to follow in the footsteps of Sen. Elizabeth Warren in signing a pledge rejecting campaign cash from food and agribusiness corporations.

Read More
A new study shows the impact Native Americans had on landscapes was "small" compared to what followed by Europeans. The findings provide important takeaway for conservation in New England today, seen above in a view of areas surrounding Rangeley Lakes in Maine. Cappi Thompson / Moment / Getty Images

There's a theory going around that Native Americans actively managed the land the lived on, using controlled burns to clear forests. It turns out that theory is wrong. New research shows that Native Americans barely altered the landscape at all. It was the Europeans who did that, as ZME Science reported.

Read More
Sponsored
Loggers operate in an area of lodgepole pine trees killed by the mountain pine beetle in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest on Sept. 13, 2019 in Montana. As climate change makes summers hotter and drier in the Northern Rockies, forests are threatened with increasing wildfire activity, deadly pathogens and insect infestations, including the mountain pine beetle outbreak. The insects have killed more than six million acres of forest across Montana since 2000. Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

President Donald Trump told a crowd at the Davos World Economic Forum Tuesday that the U.S. will join the Forum's 1t.org initiative to restore and conserve one trillion trees around the world, according to The Hill.

Read More
Wild rice flatbread is one of many Native recipes found in Indigikitchen. Indigikitchen

The online cooking show Indigikitchen is providing a platform to help disseminate Indigenous food recipes — while helping eaters recognize their impact on the planet and Native communities.

Read More

On the Solomon Islands, rats and poachers are the two major threats to critically endangered sea turtles. A group of local women have joined forces to help save the animals from extinction.

Read More