This summer, we’ve been buzzing around the country visiting garden shows (including the STIHL SHED in the STIHL Arena at BBC Countryfile Live as part of their SHED Talks Series!) demonstrating how gardeners can use some of their home-grown produce to make some tasty teas and coffees. For our latest blog we thought we would share three of our favourite home-grown brews for the next time you put the kettle on…
Perhaps the easiest of all the home-grown teas you can make, and one of the most refreshing too, all you need to do to turn mint into a cuppa is scrunch up a small handful of leaves and cover with boiling water. It’s important that any herby leaf is treated a bit rough before brewing as this will help release the oils that provide the fresh aroma and flavour. You can brew this in a pot, put leaves into a tea strainer, or simply add them directly to the cup.
To give it more of a tannic kick akin to a Moroccan mint tea, try combining the mint with some green tea (and for the full North African affect, lots of sugar). And if you want to raid the herb garden for more herby beverages we recommend lemon balm and lemon verbena should be high on your list.
You can use just about any home-grown soft fruit to make a home-grown tea but we would argue that blackcurrants make the tastiest brew and, being packed with vitamin C, you’ll struggle to find a healthier cuppa. A couple of teaspoons is plenty – we reckon that’s around 15 plump berries – and you should bash them up before adding the boiling water.
To give this tea an extra kick of tannin, we suggest you return to your blackcurrant bush and snaffle a few leaves – they give the tea a decent bite while adding to the curranty flavour and giving it some green freshness.
If you’re more of a coffee drinker then there’s no need to feel left out from home-grown brewing because there are numerous things you can use as a Nescafe substitute. Two of the more unusual suggestions, which we’ve not yet tried ourselves, are acorns and cleavers – the small sticky green balls that grip on to clothes and dog fur. Chicory roots provide a much more common alternative – they’re the main ingredient for ‘Camp coffee’ – but as few people in this country grow the bitter veg we suggest you try a much easier plant to cultivate: the dandelion.
Dig up the roots, give them a scrub, chop them into small, evenly sized pieces and slowly roast them in the oven on a low setting. When they’re dry and have turned a deep brown colour they’re ready. Then simply grind them up and use as you would any other freshly ground coffee – you’ll be rewarded with slightly bitter roasted flavours that are much better than you would ever imagine a weed could produce.
Have you ever created your own home-grown teas? What garden-grown treats have you supped on? Share your ideas in the Comments!