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Tuesday, June 1, 2021

How to Dry Herbs for Tea

Learn how to dry herbs for tea so you can use your fresh herbs from your tea garden to make your own tea blends.  You can dry herbs several different ways, and you can then store them for several months to enjoy herbal tea long after the growing season is over.

Growing herbs is a wonderful process, but before they can be used in tea they will need to be dried. Dried herbs make for delicious cups of tea, and they can be stored for an incredibly long time.

Having access to your herbs at any time is a great feeling, and it is cost effective to boot! Following is a simple guide to help you learn how to dry herbs for tea and get started making delicious and nutritious cups of tea.

How to Dry Herbs for Tea

Not only can you use your dried herbs for tea, but you can also use them for cooking or even DIY skin care and DIY hair care recipes.  

Use your homegrown herbs to make a homemade herbal infused hot oil treatment or even calendula oil for skin care.

For more information about growing herbs, check out these posts:

I use a gardening planner each year.  This helps me keep track of what I planted, how it grew, and more information.  This helps me because I think I'll remember how my garden and herbs did the year before, but of course I do not.

What Is The Best Way To Dry Fresh Herbs?

Personally, I recommend using either an air-dry method or a dehydrator to learn how to dry herbs for tea. I prefer dried herbs to fresh herbs in my tea, and I find that air drying and using the dehydrator are the most effective ways to dry herbs.

There are several ways aside from these methods, however, and it ultimately depends on such factors as time and access to other methods. You can try out a few methods and see which one you like best, as each one has its own pros and cons.

Do You Wash Herbs Before Drying?

Typically, it is best not to wash herbs before drying them, especially without use of a dehydrator. Washing herbs means that they will hold onto water, which can actually cause them to mold or rot during the drying process.

Rather, it is recommended that you brush them off and clean them using dry methods as best as you can. However, sometimes herbs can get dirty and not washing them might be hazardous. If you have to wash herbs, rinse them off gently in cold water.

Remove any excess dirt or blemishes and be sure to completely dry them before you start the drying process. Not getting all of the moisture off of your herbs can lead to problems later on down the line.

Do You Need To Dry Herbs For Tea?

Technically speaking, you do not have to learn how to dry herbs for tea before you use them in tea. While you are able to use fresh herbs, it is not recommended.

Dried herbs offer more flavor and potency for your tea than do fresh herbs. However, if you cannot wait for tea fresh herbs will work in a pinch.

How To Make Tea From Fresh Herbs

With fresh herbs in hand, clean them off as best as possible with a soft brush after shaking the dirt off of the herb. From there, simply grind the herb with a mortar and pestle while you put some water on to boil. 

Fill your cup with herbs and water and allow the tea to steep for five to ten minutes before enjoying.

What Are The Best Herbs For Making Tea?

Before we learn how to dry herbs for tea, let's talk about the best herbs to make tea.  There are many great herbs for making tea, but ultimately the best ones will depend on what flavor and remedial effects you are looking for. Following is a quick list of some of my personal favorite herbs that are great for both flavor and health benefits.

Mint, fennel, and lemon verbena are excellent herbs to grow for their delicious tastes that are great on their own or in combination with other herbs and teas. These herbs can also be used in other recipes giving them lots of utility.

Lavender and cilantro are packed with healthy benefits that can be used to treat all sorts of minor ailments.

Learn more about the best herbs to grow for tea.  

Best Herb Combinations For Tea

Of course, you don’t have to use only one type of herb for a cup of tea. There are many combinations of herbs that can create delicious flavors and provide therapeutic benefits.

For example, mix green tea with ginger and cinnamon for a delicious tea with many benefits. Green tea is rich in caffeine that releases slowly, making for a great pick me up, but you won’t get the jitters like you would with coffees or energy drinks.

Furthermore, cinnamon is a great antioxidant and enriches the flavor of the tea. There are tons of recipes like this online that allow you to make full use of your herbs in flavorful and beneficial ways.

For more herbal tea ideas, check out how to make herbal tea, which has several ideas for custom blends.

How Long Do You Steep Herbs For Tea?

While it ultimately depends on the herbs you are using, typically you will steep herbs for about five to fifteen minutes. 

If you want a strong flavor, try to steep the herbs for closer to fifteen minutes. For a weaker flavor, try to only steep for around five minutes.

Using A Dehydrator To Dry Herbs

Learn how to dry herbs for tea using a dehydrator can be very convenient, especially if you are busy while trying to dry herbs. When using a dehydrator, you can put the herbs in to dry and simply walk away and check up on them periodically. 

To use a dehydrator, first ensure that the leaves are off of the stems and that they are not wet. Then, preheat the dehydrator to around 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Lay out all of the herbs on a tray and slide them into the dehydrator.

As a tip, when using a stacked dehydrator put the fastest drying herbs on top for easy access. In addition, be sure to make not of which tray has what herbs as once they are dried it can be hard to tell. Once they are going, simply check up on them every once in a while and remove them as they dry.

Once they are dry put them into a marked container that is sealable and store it until needed.

Oven Drying Herbs

Oven drying can be a bit risky as it will ruin the flavor of the herbs if you overcook them. However, it is very convenient as ovens are commonplace in nearly every home, and they can be used in humid climates.

Before you start, ensure that your herbs are completely dry of any moisture on the herb itself. Moisture can cause the outer parts of the herb to be fresh while the center overheats.

To use an oven to dry your herbs, simply preheat the oven to the lowest temperature, and never try to dry above 180 degrees Fahrenheit. From there, spread the herbs out on a cookie sheet with natural parchment paper on it.

From there, slide the tray into the oven and allow them to dry for about thirty minutes. If you have an electric oven, keep the door propped open to allow air to circulate around the herbs and to prevent overheating. 

If you have a gas oven, open the door every five minutes for about thirty seconds before closing it. After the thirty minutes are up, take out the herbs and flip them over and repeat. 

Air Drying Herbs

Air drying herbs is the lengthiest drying process, but it is low risk and yields a great flavor. Simply secure the herbs onto something, like a clothesline, in a sunny area outside. Then, allow them to dry for several weeks. 

Be sure to check them at least once a day after a week or so, and rotate or move them around as needed. Some herbs will probably be done before others are, so keep that in mind.

I picked up a laundry hanger for hanging up socks and small things, and it's perfect for drying herbs!  You can also use a collapsible mesh drying rack.

I don't have a lot of counter space in my kitchen, so hanging my herbs is perfect.

Can You Dry Herbs In The Microwave?

Drying herbs in the microwave is very simple, but like the oven, you will need to exercise caution as to not dry them out too much. Simply place the herbs on a microwave safe plate and microwave in thirty second increments.

After each microwave session, flip them over and repeat about five times or until they are completely dry. Then, simply place them in an airtight container to enjoy whenever!

Drying herbs can be a lengthy process, especially depending on what method you choose. While you do not have to dry herbs to enjoy them in tea, they are typically more flavorful when dried making the process worthwhile. 

With the tips on this list you are well on your way to drying herbs and making delicious cups of tea packed with nutritious benefits.

How to Store Dried Herbs

Once your herbs are dry, you'll want to store them properly.  They should be in air tight container.  I use either pint or quart mason jars, depending on how much I have.

For best results, store your herbs whole and crush them as you need them.  This helps the herbs retain more flavor.  

Store your dried herbs in a dark and cool area.  Moisture will reactivate them, so it's important to keep them dry during storage.

Where to Buy Herbs

I don't grow all of my herbs each year.  I just don't have room, and some herbs I use very little so it doesn't make sense to grow an entire plant.

I recommend buying from Mountain Rose Herbs.  They have organic herbs whenever possible, and they are big on sustainability and paying farmers a fair wage.

In addition to dried herbs, they also have a nice selection of herbal tea and tea making accessories.

If you want to learn more about herbalism and how to use your dried herbs, I recommend taking courses from The Herbal Academy.  They have courses from beginner to advanced so you can learn how to use herbs safely.  

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