There’s No Place Like Ohm: How to Make Your Own Herbal Tea Blend

Smiling retro baroque man with white wig holding a porcelain tea

Grabbing a new box of tea whenever you're at the grocery store feels like the right(andhealthy) thing to do. However, there’s something even better you can do—create your own herbal tea blend at home. There’s a certain mystical quality to the art of blending tea. It’s esoteric, a bit hippie and a lot exotic. With this guide, you’ll be able to convince your friends you’ve just returned from an enlightening trip of self-discovery—even if it was just to your garden and back. 

Autumn Tonic Tea

Autumn Tonic Tea is full of herbs that will nourish the body and give it the nutrients it needs to stay healthy through the cold winter months.

Ingredients

tea nettle
  • 4 parts nettle leaf (Urticadioica) 

  • 3 parts spearmint leaf (Menthaspicata)

  • 3 parts lemon balm (Melissaofficinalis)

  • 2 parts mullein leaf (Verbascumthapsus)

  • 2 parts (combined) dandelion leaf and root (Taraxacumofficinale)

  • 2 parts red clover blossoms (Trifoliumpratense)

  • 1 part rose hips (Rosaspp.)

  • 1 part ginger root (dried, cut and sifted)

Directions

Combine all of the dry ingredients and store in a cool dry place.

To brew, boil 4 cups of water and pour over the tea blend. Let it steep between 15 minutes and 8 hours. Strain the herbs out and enjoy hot or cold. Sweeten as desired(ornot at all). Enjoy this amazing tonic to keep your health in order for the cooler months ahead.

To truly appreciate the Autumn Tonic Tea (and impress your friends), let’s explore its humble, yet potent, ingredients. Each has a unique history and a plethora of health benefits. Some even have fascinating folklore that traces the evolution of humanity itself. Prepare yourself as we take a deep dive into the teapot of life.

NETTLE

This prickly plant is incredibly nutritious. It’s high in magnesium, potassium, calcium, iron, manganese, vitamin A and various B vitamins. Nettle also supports healthy urinary function and acts as a mild diuretic.

Common Names: Stinging nettle, nettle

Botanical Name: Urtica dioica L. ssp. dioica

Plant Family: Urticaceae

Overview

For centuries, cultures across numerous continents have used nettle as source of food, a topical ointment and for herbal tea. Many cultures in Northern Europe used its high-quality fibers, which are comparable to flax or hemp, to weave cloth.

Flavor Profile

European nettle leaves create a deep green brew with a rich vegetal flavor and a potent chlorophyll aftertaste. If you prefer a lighter flavor, the North American nettle will be your cup of tea.

SPEARMINT

This delightful mint, which is subtler than peppermint, adds a delicious flavor and a nice vitamin C boost to your home-made herbal teas. Like most mints, it’s a wonderful digestive aid.

Common Name: Spearmint

Botanical Name: Mentha spicata L.

Plant Family: Lamiaceae

Overview

A hardy perennial mint with bright green serrated leaves, spearmint has served as an important medicinal herb for millennia. Originally native to Mediterranean countries, it is now common in many parts of the world. The Bible records that the ancient Pharisees paid tithes to their temple with anise, cumin and spearmint. Beginning in about the fourteenth century, spearmint was used for whitening teeth. Its distilled oil is still used to flavor toothpaste and chewing gum, although it is not as commonly used as peppermint.

LEMON BALM

This is a wonderful nervine used to ease anxiety, stress and tension. It is antiviral, antispasmodic and wonderful for stomach aches, pains, nausea and gas.

Common Names: Lemon balm, balm, bee balm, Melissa, Melissa balm

Botanical Name: Melissa officinalis L.

Plant Family: Lamiaceae

Overview

Used since ancient times to calm the heart and body, lemon balm uplifts the spirit and any culinary dish it is added to. It has been used to sweeten jam and jellies, as an addition to salad and as a flavoring for liqueurs and various fish and poultry dishes. Lemon balm is also used in perfumes, cosmetics and furniture polish manufacturing. It’s often used in tea, as an essential oil and in topical ointments.

History & Folklore

The use of lemon balm goes back thousands of years to the ancient Romans and Greeks. One of its first recorded uses was as a wine infused liniment. Nicholas Culpepper—botanist, avid astrologer, physician and author of Complete Herbal(1653)—wrotethat lemon balm was ruled by the planet Jupiter and associated with the zodiac sign of Cancer, thus giving it the ability to affect emotions. Lemon balm was used in spells to heal broken hearts and also to attract romantic love.

woman in white Victorian era clothes with cup of tea


MULLEIN

Mullein is very grounding. Although most commonly known as a respiratory tonic, it is a wonderful lymphatic tonic that helps prevent colds and coughs from settling deeply in the lungs. It’s also an anti-inflammatory and great for musculoskeletal pain.

Common Names: Mullein, Aaron's rod

Botanical Name: Verbascum spp.

Plant Family: Scrophulariaceae

Overview

The silvery green leaves and bright yellow flowers of mullein have been utilized for thousands of years in herbal traditions. This gentle herb has been used extensively in European and North American folk medicine and thus has a plethora of folk tales associated with it. Presently, mullein can be found at health food stores often prepared as soothing leaf tea or an ear oil made of the infused flowers.

History & Folklore

Dioscorides, a Greek physician pharmacologist and botanist, was one of the first to recommend mullein’s use in lung conditions around 2,000 years ago. It was used as a hair wash in ancient Roman times—the leaf ash to darken hair and the yellow flowers to lighten it. Over the centuries, cultures have used the plant for purposes ranging from making candle wicks, curing wounds and serving“nature’stoilet paper” to warding off evil spirts, ensuring fertility and finding love. When European colonists brought mullein to the New World, native cultures incorporated the plant into their daily lives: The Abnaki tribe made the plant’s root into necklaces for teething infants; the Cherokee applied its leaves to cuts and swollen glands; the Navajos smoked the plant and called it“bigtobacco.”

DANDELION

This nutritious herb has high levels of vitamin A and B vitamins, calcium, potassium and magnesium. It also contains both inulin, which helps the body process sugars more efficiently through the liver, and pectin, which helps detoxify and nourish the body and support proper hormone function.

Common Names: Dandelion, lion's tooth

Botanical Name: Taraxacum officinale  

Plant Family: Asteraceae

Overview

Dandelion is an incredible plant that has been used for thousands of years in Chinese and Arabian cultures as a restorative tonic, edible food and in herbal beers and wines. Native to most of Europe, Asia and northern Africa, it’s now naturalized all over the world and commonly found growing alongside roads and in lawns as a common weed.

History & Folklore

The first written record of a culture using dandelion is in ancient China’s Tang Materia Medica(659B.C.). Arab physicians began keeping written records of its use in the 10th century. Traditional Chinese medicine refers to dandelion as“XinXiu Ben Cao” or“PuGong Ying” and believes it clears heat from the liver, has a beneficial effect on the stomach and lungs, and that it can uplift one’s mood and support lactation. In the United States, various indigenous cultures considered dandelion to be a prized edible, a gastrointestinal aid, a cleansing alterative and a helpful poultice or compress. The Aleut steamed leaves and applied them topically to sore throats, whereas the Cherokee made a tea of the plant(leavesand flowers) for calming purposes.

RED CLOVER

This plant is chock-full of wonderful nutrients including calcium, chromium, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, thiamine and vitamin C, as well as isoflavones. It’s known for its blood purifying and anti-oxidant properties.

Close View Crimson Red Clover Meadow, Field, Farm with Trees, Blue Skies in Background, Daytime, Use with Text Copy Space Overlay

Common Name: Red clover

Botanical Name: Trifolium pratense L.

Plant Family: Fabaceae

Overview

Red clover is a low growing perennial native to northwest Africa, Asia and Europe. It has since been naturalized and cultivated in many parts of the world, including North America. The flower heads are collected in full bloom during the summer months.

History & Folklore

For centuries, red clover has been eaten raw and used in a variety of herbal teas. Long ago, Druids believed that it could ward off evil spells and witches. Medieval Christians believed it has religious undertones: three lobbed leaves signified the Holy Trinity and the four lobbed leaves represented the cross upon which Jesus was crucified.

ROSE HIPS

Rose hips are full of vitamin C, anti-oxidants and all sorts of good things. You often see them in vitamin C supplements. 

Common Names: Rose hips, dog rose, dog brier, brier rose

Botanical Name: Rosa spp. 

Plant Family: Rosaceae

Overview

Rose hips develop on wild roses as the flowers drop off. The rose hip is actually the fruit of the rose. These fruits are one of the most naturally occurring concentrated sources of vitamin C on earth. They are deciduous shrubs native to Europe and western Asia. Rose hips have a tart flavor and can be used to make jelly, jam, soup or oil. They are also commonly used in tea and liquors.

History & Folklore

During World War II, the British government collected rose hips to make rose hip syrup as a source of vitamin C to replace citrus fruits that, at the time, were impractical sources of nutrition.

Ginger

Ginger encourages movement of fluids throughout the body. It is also an antimicrobial herb and great for digestive stagnation and upset stomachs. 

Beneficial tea of dried ginger or Zingiber officinale with benefits like help digestion, reduce nausea and help fight the flu and common cold in transparent cup with raw dried ginger.

Common Names: Ginger, shunthi

Botanical Name: Zingiber officinale Roscoe

Plant Family: Zingiberaceae

Overview

Ginger has been valued as a zesty spice and a reliable herb for centuries, with the first recorded uses found in ancient Sanskrit and Chinese texts. It has also been utilized in Greek, Roman, Arabic and Unani Tibb traditional medicine practices. It is a flavoring agent in beer, soft drinks, candies and a staple spice and condiment in many countries. Ginger essential oil is used in a vast array of cosmetics and perfumes.

History & Folklore

The first recorded use of ginger dates back to the ancient Chinese herbal text, Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing, written by emperor Shen Nong around 2,000 B.C. and the ancient Sanskrit text of India, the Mahabharata, around 400 B.C. Traditional Chinese medicine purports that ginger affects lung, spleen, heart, and stomach meridians. There are various accounts of ginger being exported from India to the Roman empire around 2000 years ago. Since then, ginger has been a staple of European life. King Henry the VIII was especially fond of the spice. During his reign in the 1500s, one pound of ginger was worth one sheep.Since ancient times, ginger has been prized for its “heating up” qualities, which made it an essential ingredient in love potions. Many cultures also believed that planting a ginger root would ensure financial success.

In the book Herbal Emissaries: Bringing Chinese Herbs to the West, Steven Foster writes: “Gingeris truly an herbal emissary in the broadest sense. Perhaps no other herb, except garlic, crosses all barriers, cultural, historical, and geographic–food versus medicine, Western versus Oriental, scientific versus folk tradition. Ginger is a universal herb in all respects.

Jesse LaVancher