garden teas

nasturtiums – a tea, a pesto and a cure

31st August 2014


How I love this plant. They are such a visual treat.  Especially when my neglected garden is looking somewhat sad in abundance, there are always nasturtiums gracefully filling in the bare spaces to a sparse garden.  They are their own abundant gift!  Neglect is their most valued possession. They go about their own business, trailing through our poor soil and semi-shaded positions, cascading edible bright yellow, orange, and rust-red flowers as they go.  They even self-seed and surprise us in all sorts of places you would least expect.  I add their peppery leaves and colourful flowers to salads, and their leaves to green smoothies when greens are very few and far between.  For the tastiest nasturtium leaves, keep them well-watered, which helps to moderate the spiciness of the leaves and flowers. They make wonderful garlands and colourful decorations on and around birthday cakes.

The flowers were a favourite of the Victorians, and in the language of flowers, they stand for patriotism and fatherly love.

Nasturtiums secrete a mustard oil which insects find attractive and they will seek them out in preference to any cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, kohlrabi and turnips growing nearby.  It is wonderful to have them wander between crops to act as a decoy for insects and as a flavour- improving agent, however, slugs, as I have found, enjoy hiding beneath the shade of their broad leaves.  If you graze or scratch yourself while working in the garden, smearing a bruised leaf over the area will aid in swift healing.

Nasturtiums have a high concentration of vitamin C, iron and other minerals, and are also a natural antibiotic. The gentle antibiotic reaction makes it ideal for treating minor colds and flu.  Eating a couple of leaves a day is said to help clear up acne.  Apparently, it is great for the hair, as nasturtium tea applied to the head scalp, increases circulation and hair growth.  It is also a great toner for oily skin.

Chewing the leaves is a good way to disinfect one’s mouth.  They’re a means for boosting appetite and stimulating digestion.

nasturtium tea


1 cup nasturtium flowers

1-litre boiling water


1.  Place the flowers, leaves and buds in the boiling water in a jug.

2.  Cover and allow to brew for 15 mins. Strain and drink or use a hair rinse or toner this is also a great spray over plants to protect them against unwanted bugs.

nasturtium pesto

Makes 1 cup


2 cups packed nasturtium leaves

1 cup packed nasturtium flowers

¾ cup cold-pressed organic olive oil

¾ cup lightly toasted walnuts

½ cup grated parmesan cheese

pinch of salt


1.  Pick a basket of fresh leaves and flowers without any blemishes.  If you are light on of the flowers, then leaves only are just fine.

2.  Thoroughly wash and dry the leaves and flowers; tear larger leaves in half.

3.  Place the leaves, flowers, lightly toasted and cooled walnuts, olive oil, salt and parmesan into a blender or food processor – blend until smooth.

4.  Ladle into a jar and drizzle over olive oil to prevent browning.


References :

Goodness shared from Stacey


11th June 2014



Because I never tire of it.

Borage supposedly has properties that give a feeling of euphoria, or what I would call happiness. It’s said to give courage, joy and heart to anyone who eats the flowers or makes tea from the leaves. Borage expels pensiveness and melancholy.  Borage flowers in the house help bring domestic tranquillity.  The flowers sprinkled in the bath are good for courage or for protection.  A cup of borage tea can help with feelings of vulnerability and disjointedness.  Whatever it grows near it is ‘lifted up’ and made stronger by it.

How can one not admire that kind of unconditional giving?

The fresh young leaves can be added in salads, although having tried this, I am not too keen on the fuzzy texture.  The leaves are great for special effect, as they spark and pop when they are burned due to their mineral content.  Both the leaves and the pretty blue flowers smell and taste slightly like salty cucumber. Try freezing the flowers in an ice-cube for a nice garnish to herbal iced tea in summer.  According to folklore, if the person drinking the tea is someone you would like to marry, it will give them the courage to propose.  The flowers will keep their colour if dried carefully.

It is okay to use this herb as a condiment, but avoid eating in large amounts on a regular basis, as it contains alkaloids believed to harm the liver.

I always directly sow the seeds in the ground just after the last frost, but this depends on where you live.  Borage is a good companion plant for tomatoes, squash and strawberries.  Plant in a bunch so they can support each other – they flop over in windy areas. Bees love the flowers, which have a lot of nectar. The flowers are normally blue, but sometimes they will be pink, even on the same plant. Borage self-seeds when happy.


borage & mint tea

1.  In a cup of boiling water, place a few roughly chopped borage leaves, a few flowers and fresh mint leaves.

2.  Let steep for 5 minutes. Always cover the tea when steeping to keep the volatile oils which hold all of its beneficial health benefits.

Find a quiet place outside.  Sit, listen and enjoy.



Whole Foods Companion by Dianne Onstad

Goodness shared from Stacey


21st May 2014


Calming, Healing, Co-operative, Inner Peace, Spiritual Awareness and Harmonising.

Chamomile is considered the garden’s healer and is often grown in gardens just to improve the health of all the other plants.

The name of this magic herb comes from the Greek word for “ground apple”, due to its scent, which resembles that of apples. The scent is said to keep out negative energy and to help bring understanding in confusion.  I have been making a pot with the fresh flowers in the evening and leaving a cup next to my bed to drink when I wake thirsty during the night and to drink when waking first thing in the morning.

“The aromatic component in Chamomile, stemming from the plant’s high volatile oil content, is predictably nervine, meaning that it has a discernible effect on the nervous system which effectively treats anxiety, insomnia, nervousness, and stress.  It has been used for ages to treat indigestion in children as it is very soothing to the digestive tract.  Chamomile provides relief from headaches and allergies, stomach aches, and menstrual cramps.” – See the reference below.

In Ayurvedic medicine, chamomile is considered tridoshic, meaning it supports all three constitutions.

Chamomile is a good remedy for all sorts of eye inflammations and infections.  It can be used as a warm compress to wash the eyes to reduce inflammation, infection and pain in the treatment of styes, conjunctivitis, and pink eyes.

The fresh flowers are nice to add to a relaxing bath, and a rinse made from the flowers gives highlights to blond hair.

The buds or just-opened flowers can be used in salads, savouring the sweet aromatic taste of the plant with a slightly bitter after-taste.

The two most common types of plants grown are the Roman (chamaemelum nobile) and German (marticaria recutita).  I grow the German chamomile which is native to Europe.  In Germany, it is referred to as alles zutruat, which translates to “capable of anything”.  It has feathery, bright, green, fern-like flowers.  It can usually be cut a couple of times during the growing season because it takes only a few weeks to make a new crop of flowers.  Leaving the crop of flowers to go to seed, will help ensure the sprouting of seedlings everywhere for the next Spring.

When harvesting, they’re best picked when the petals are dropping down (just like droopy bunny ears) as they are less bitter.  Pop off the flower with your fingers.  When drying the flowers, place in a net bag (stops them from flying around) in the dehydrator at 95 degrees F, until no moisture remains, approx. 3 hours or laid out in a quiet dry corner in the kitchen for 2 – 3 days.  Direct sunlight can be harmful to the oils in chamomile, so it is suggested to dry them indoors.

NOTE: This herb is not recommended during pregnancy, as some herbalists consider it to relaxing to the uterus.  Some people who suffer from hay- fever who are sensitive to ragweed, asters, or related plants, may be sensitive to chamomile.

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chamomile tea

1.  Pour 1 cup of boiling water over 8 – 10 fresh flowers or a teaspoon of the dried herbs.

2.  Let it steep for 5 – 10 minutes. Keep covered when infusing for tea in order to preserve the volatile components as long as possible.

When drunk as a tea, the blissfully apple-like scent brings a relaxed smile and an overall feeling of relaxation.

Because the flower oil is not very water-soluble, the potent medicine is diluted when making tea. This makes the tea ideal to drink on a regular basis as the effects are likely to be increased over time.



Goodness shared from Stacey

fresh herbs

8th January 2010



Lemon Thyme



Ginger……..the list of fresh herbs that can be brewed in a pot is endless.   And the combinations of these.

Since I have arrived here in Israel, I am in the constant search for something to maintain that feeling of warmth.  A fire.  A feather doona.  Woolly socks, scarves and cardigans.  And, of course, comfort foods and hot drinks.  I love my freshly brewed coffee, however, without access to my daily kick first thing in the morning, I have turned to tea.

The aisles devoted to teas in the supermarkets here are impressive.  My favourite brand in Israel would have to be the Wissotzky range.  Their rooibos with cinnamon and vanilla is my pick, and boxes of these will take up precious space in my suitcase for the trip home.  Ceremonie also does a beautiful range of individually boxed silk tea bags.  My pick there would have to be the rooibos with caramel.  They also have managed to find space in my suitcase.

However, this post is about teas made from fresh herbs, which are in abundance here, and are correctly termed as tisanes.  A pot is a welcoming start to the day or a refreshing end to our dinner. The pot of choice is whatever happens to be picked from the herbs outside the door or whether you feel like venturing out to the main vegetable garden.  I can fully understand why tea drinking and brewing is such a ritual in Asian cultures.  Sight.  Smell.  Taste.  The senses that are drawn into the whole tea experience.  A glass teapot brewing with fresh herbs touches upon the visual aspect. That scent of the fresh herbs as boiling water hits fresh, green plant, and that strong scent inhaled just before glass touches lips.  Yes, glass.  It is very common here and in Middle Eastern countries for tea to be enjoyed out of small glasses.  Makes for a more special experience.

This post will list some of the herb blends currently in favour.  There is no precision measuring of herbs, whatever works.  Just pick whole sprigs, toss in a pot (preferably a glass one), and add boiling water and a few teaspoons of honey/agave syrup if prefer a sweetener.  Let sit for about 5 minutes and indulge.

Herb Teas of Choice & Benefits

Sage + lemon thyme + peppermint

Lemon verbena + peppermint/mint + ginger

Sage + ginger

Lemon thyme + peppermint/mint + small piece of peeled ginger

Thyme + sage

Peppermint + ginger

Lemongrass + ginger

Some of the Health Benefits

Sage Tea – soothing and quieting to the nerves; a sore throat, cold sores, fevers and congestion antidote; regulate hormones and bring on late or suppressed menses and help lessen excessively heavy menstrual flow.

Thyme Tea sweetened with honey – excellent soothing cough mixture, helpful in fevers, relieve headaches, acts as a mood elevator, expels gas, and increases perspiration.

Peppermint Tea – a strong cup will act more powerfully than any liquor stimulant, bringing natural warmth and glow; allays nausea.

Mint Tea (of any kind) – soothing for digestive tract; effective against stomach gas or spasms, vomiting, intestinal parasites, excessive acidity and colic.

Ginger Tea (pieces of fresh ginger) – promotes cleansing of the system through perspiration; useful for bloating, menstrual cramps; onset of a cold or flu to ease effects; ease morning sickness or alleviate colds.

Lemon Verbena Tea – remedy for exhaustion and depression; useful as a diuretic, sedative, antispasmodic, astringent, or aphrodisiac tonic.

Health benefits from ‘Whole Foods Companion – A Guide for Adventurous Cooks, Curious Shoppers & Lovers of Natural Foods’ – Dianne Onstad

Goodness shared by Donna

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