(NaturalNews) It is well documented that drinking herbal teas can benefit health as well as contribute to a feeling of relaxation. Herbs can be used fresh or dried. Drying them at home will generally mean cheaper and fresher herbal tea than teas that are shop bought. All herbal teas have health benefits - they may soothe stress, relieve indigestion and lower rate of cancers by serving as antioxidants, and most contain some vitamins or minerals. Caution does need to be exercised, however. Do not overdo quantities and consult a qualified homeopath if pregnant or trying to get pregnant.
Tips on How to Dry Herbs
All herbs, including barks, rinds and stalks must be dried properly or they will rot. Over-dried herbs, or herbs left out too long in relentless sunlight will lose their flavor and properties. The ideal spot to dry herbs is a dry, airy place out of the direct sunlight.
Binding a bunch of herbs and hanging them upside down to dry is a method that has been used successfully for centuries. Another method is to lay the herbs flat on a clean towel or absorbent paper, where the air can still circulate.
The herbs should be dry after a period of two to three weeks and should still retain some color although dried out. For a quick solution, herbs can also be oven-dried by arranging the herbs on absorbent paper, turning the oven on to the lowest setting and allowing to dry out. Keep the oven door open and check every ten minutes or so to ensure that the herbs are not cooking or burning.
All teas should be used within three months, discard after this time since they will become stale after long storage. When storing, use an airtight container.
The following recipes can be used with fresh or dried herbs:
Relaxing Bedtime Herbal Tea Recipe
4 cups water 3 tsp linden flowers 3 tsp chamomile 1 tsp orange zest (no white pith) 1/4 tsp stevia or 1/2 tsp honey
Brew, discard herbs and enjoy.
Cold and Flu Tea (serves one)
3 slices fresh ginger 5 - 10 leaves chopped fresh sage or 2 tsp dried sage 2 - 3 sprigs fresh thyme or 2 tsp dried thyme 1 tsp raw honey juice of half a lemon dash of cayenne pepper
Brew, steep herbs for a few minutes, discard herbs and add the lemon, honey and pepper.
Soothing and Refreshing Teas
Experiment with a flavor that suits you for the following recipes:
English lavender flowers and lemon grass. Brew for a gentle, stress relieving tea
Lemon grass and peppermint with a little dried grated orange rind (avoid the pith). Brew for a drink after a hot and stressful day.
Parts Bergamot leaves and a few Bergamot flowers, 1 part lemon verbena leaves, a little dried grated orange rind. Brew for an enlivening start to the day.
Fleur Hupston is a professional freelance writer. She is passionate about natural, healthy living and is currently studying to be a naturopath. She divides her time between writing for Natural News and various other sites, home schooling her children and studying part time.