In the next few days I'll harvest my sage, rosemary, and thyme, along with oregano and tarragon. After they're finished drying, I'll crumble them and fill the little glass bottles that already have printed labels on them. Those are the bottles of mass-produced herbs that I bought at the grocery store years ago. I've reused the bottles over and over again to hold my own herbs. I don't remember the last time our household purchased those common herbs; each year's harvest is enough to sustain us through the winter until fresh herbs sprout again.
This is a pattern I've followed season after season. When the tomato or pepper production suffered, the herbs were always providing useful crops. When the pumpkins or corn failed to produce adequate quantities, the herbs offered a glimmer of success. This year I decided to expand on that dependability and branch out a little.
|Peparing the herbs for drying.|
Just up the road from us in Boulder, Colorado, is the Celestial Seasonings tea factory. Every bag of Celestial Seasonings tea that you buy in this country is produced at that plant. They offer free tours and one of the highlights is the mint room. The fragrant oils in mint are so powerful that they'll affect the taste of the other tea ingredients stored in the warehouse so they store the mint in its own separate room. It's an overwhelming experience and one that will clear out your sinuses for weeks to come.
A mid-winter delight, when snow blankets the ground, is to sit in front of the fire with my wife and sip a hot cup of mint tea. Traditionally it's a Celestial Seasonings mint tea because we always seem to come home with boxes of it after visiting the factory. The cup I made today, with my own leaves, tasted just like that mid-winter brew. Actually, it tasted a little better because it was from my garden.
I certainly don't intend to put the company out of business and I'll continue to buy many of their other blends, but I was able to replicate one of their successes with one of my own. It felt good.
Mint has been part of my garden for years, but it was usually used as a garnish. In years past I intended to use it for tea, but other gardening chores always seemed to have a higher priority. I grew chamomile for the purpose of making tea, but that fell short too. This year, with focus and determination, I finally fulfilled the goal I set of making a cup of tea from my own harvest. It will be the first of many.
Too often we have plans for our plants and then time and weather intervene and upset the cart. The little successes are what makes gardening so enjoyable and I suggest you find as many successes as you can. Herbs can be the conduit to continued success. I'll continue to experiment with herb blends for tea and see what happens. That's how Celestial Seasonings started. Who knows where it will lead me or you, if you do the same.