Image by Ruta & Zinas
By Jackie Carroll
Herbal tea gardens are a great way to enjoy your favorite teas straight from the garden—your own garden. It is easy to learn how to make tea gardens and numerous tea plants for a garden to choose from.
What is a Tea Garden?
So what is a tea garden? A tea garden is a place to grow your favorite herbs for tea, and much more. Tea herbs are visually appealing and delightfully fragrant. Even birds and butterflies delight in the seeds and nectars that the plants produce. Your tea garden will allow you to sit among these beautiful creatures while enjoying your herbal tea creations.
Tea Plants for a Garden
Use your favorite tea herb plants to create your unique tea garden design. “To help you get started, here are a few tea plants for a garden that will bring you fresh, delightful herbs cup after cup, year after year.”
- Mint is one plant that no tea garden should be without. It is refreshing whether served cold or hot, and blends well with other herbs. Try it with tarragon for a robust tea. Mint is an invasive plant that will take over the garden if given a chance. To keep it in check, grow mint in containers.
- Catnip is a member of the mint family that should be gown in containers to control its invasive tendencies. Try to place the containers out of the reach of cats, who will enjoy playing in it.
- Rosemary is a delightfully fragrant herb that makes a soothing tea. It grows as a perennial in warm climates. In cool areas, cut a few sprigs and root them indoors over winter.
- Lemon balm is another tea herb that combines well with other flavors. It’s easy to grow and survives neglect as long as you water it during prolonged dry spells. Southern tea drinkers that enjoy sweet tea will love lemon balm tea with a little honey.
- Lemon grass is spicier than lemon balm. It combines well with fruity flavors. The plant is a perennial in warm climates. Gardeners in cool climates can overwinter a clump indoors on a sunny windowsill.
- Bee balm (bergamot) is a native plant with a long history of use as a tea herb. The early colonists used it to make tea when taxes made traditional tea prohibitively expensive. Use both the flower and the leaves to make tea.
These are just a few of the herbs in a traditional herbal tea garden. Let your personal taste and preference guide you in choosing your plants.
How to Make Tea Gardens
When you begin making your tea garden design, plan them so that you plant herbal tea gardens in a sunny location with well-drained soil. Choose a location that gets at least six hours of sunlight per day.
If the soil is poorly drained, plant in a raised bed. Remove any grass or weeds in the area and dig the soil to loosen it. Spread a 2-inch layer of compost or other organic material over the soil and dig it in to a depth of 6 to 8 inches.
Now comes the fun part. Move your plants around the garden until you find an arrangement that appeals to you and then plant them. Make sure you give each plant plenty of space so the garden won’t be overcrowded. The plant tags will tell you how far apart to space your plants. If you are planting against a fence or wall, plant taller plants closest to the structure and shorter plants toward the front.