WHY DOES MY PEPPERMINT TEA TASTE LIKE WEEDS?

MINT BY ANY OTHER NAME

Your peppermint tea tastes like weeds? Really? You grew the peppermint. You’re pretty sure it’s a real peppermint plant. It said so on the little tag when you brought it home from the nursery.

When you ate the raw leaf, sure there was a hint of weedy-ness, but the peppermint was so strong it burned your mouth a little. However, after you steeped it, your tea tasted like weeds with the far-off memory of mint tickling the back of your mind. What happened? Did nature wrong you?

THE CULPRIT

There could be many reasons your peppermint tea doesn’t taste right (location or proximity to other plants, weed sprays, pesticides, soil nutrients, water…), but, in my opinion, the properties of menthol are the biggest. I whined to a Facebook garden group about my weedy tasting tea and ended up learning much more from them than I did in online searches.

Peppermint and spearmint contain menthol. Menthol, a cyclic alcohol, is the compound responsible for the strong, minty flavor of peppermint and spearmint plants. Have you ever heard that when you cook with alcohol the alcohol burns off or cooks out? That’s why nobody’s getting drunk off chicken Marsala. The Marsala wine has cooked out.

NOT SO HOT

So, back to your tea kettle… Did you use boiling, hot water to steep your tea? Guess what? Your mint cooked out. The reason your peppermint tea tastes like weeds is because you’re drinking water infused with boiled weeds, I mean mint-less plant matter. If you’re lucky, a tiny bit of mint flavor survived.

My garden friends, almost unanimously, agreed that peppermint tea needs to be steeped in merely hot water, nothing close to boiling. It saves the mint flavor and isn’t hot enough to boil the flavors of the plant part into the water.

So, yes, steep your tea right in the cup or in a loose-leaf teapot. Just don’t steep it with boiling, hot water. One of my Facebook garden friends tells me she stuffs a quart mason jar with clean, fresh mint, fills it with cold, tap water, and sets it in the sun to steep. When it has steeped enough she strains it into liter bottles and drinks it cold. Sounds refreshing.

Contributor: Sheryl C.S. Johnson 7/7/2022

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CHAMOMILE—FRIENDLY, MEDICINAL FLOWER

The content of this site is for informative, educational, entertainment purposes only. It does not constitute professional, medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Nursing or pregnant woman should use caution and seek medical guidance when using herbal supplements.

CHAMOMILE:

A member of the Asteraceae (daisy) family, chamomile is a cheerful little flower with an impressive array of benefits. When the remains of Pharaoh Ramses II (1100 BC) were chemically analyzed, chamomile was a prevalent herbal ingredient in the embalming oil. Also good for the living, this little flower is famous for its calming, nervine effect. It is a friend to any garden. Because it is anti-microbial and anti-fungal it protects nearby plants.

BENEFITS OF CHAMOMILE

  • Anti-microbial (Room temperature chamomile tea is good for soaking garden seeds in before planting because it is antimicrobial. It’s good for seeds with damping-off disease or mold issues.)
  • Anti-fungal
  • Anti-bacterial
  • Anti-inflammatory properties, especially when used as a topical
  • Antioxidant (acetylene and chamazulene derivatives)
  • Anti-allergy
  • Immune booster
  • Sedating/calming nerves
  • Sleep-aid—Take tea made from flowers a half hour before bedtime.
  • Reduces depression
  • Eases skin irritation (diaper rash, dandruff, canker sores, burns, eczema, wounds, sunburns, and gout)
  • Pain relief—when taken internally or used topically
  • Helps with intestinal problems (anodyne compounds which are anti-spasmodic ease constipation.)
  • Kidney restorer—heals and protects kidneys, not just a diuretic
  • Muscle relaxing
  • Helps with Jaundice
  • Helps with Hepatitis
  • Helps with Menstrual cramps
  • Mouth health
  • Heart health
  • Helps with Crohn’s disease
  • Helps with Hemorrhoids
  • Eye health (warm, soaked bags of chamomile tea of the eyes assists with eye swelling and with dark circles under the eyes.)
  • Sinus congestion relief (eases inflammation of mucous membranes in nose, throat, and mouth)
  • Molecular Medicine Reports journal article lists conditions that might be improved, using chamomile (Source 3)
    • Cancer (apigenin antioxidants have been shown to counteract ovarian, breast, prostate, and skin cancers.)
    • Common cold
    • Cardiovascular issues
    • Eczema
    • Gastrointestinal problems
    • Osteoporosis
    • Sleep issues
    • Anxiety
    • Seizures
    • Diabetes

CAUTIONS FOR CHAMOMILE

The content of this site is for informative, educational purposes only. It does not constitute professional, medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Nursing or pregnant woman should use caution and seek medical guidance when using herbal supplements.

  • It is important to note that those allergic to ragweed and chrysanthemums could be allergic to chamomile.
  • Chamomile contains coumarin, which increases the risk of bleeding. It should be avoided by those with bleeding disorders.
  • This is by no means a complete list of cautions. Research chamomile and consult with your doctor to see if it is right for you.

MAJOR TYPES OF CHAMOMILE

German Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) grows 1-3’ tall.

  • Most popular
  • Self-seeding annual (will seed itself for next year)
  • Commonly used in gardens.
  • Produces more flowers than the Roman chamomile
  • Most commonly used for teas.
  • Flowers smell like green apple candy.
  • Flowers can be eaten raw.
    • They have a lightly tart and medicinal flavor.

Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile):

  • Lower growing (floppy)
  • Perennial
  • Like a matting, creeping ground cover.
  • Though it can be used for tea, it is not commonly used.
  • More bitter than German chamomile

St. John’s or Dyers Chamomile:

  • Rarely grown
  • Completely yellow flower
  • Can be used for tea

GROWING CHAMOMILE

  • Start with premoistened, slightly compacted soil.
  • Chamomile’s tiny seeds are light-dependent and need to be surface sown.
  • Scatter seeds over soil.
  • With a dry finger, compress seeds down so they adhere to soil.
  • Use a spray bottle on a gentle setting to water the seeds.
  • In 10-14 days the chamomile seeds will sprout.
  • Thin the plants to one inch apart when they’re large enough. When transplanting to the garden, space them 8 inches apart for larger plants.

Outdoor care:

  • Prefers full sun
  • Spring crops thrive best, but summer crops are possible.
  • Prefers regular watering

HARVESTING CHAMOMILE

  • Pluck mature flowers, when flowers are fully open. Note that immature, white flower petals hang down, clinging near the stem. A mature flower will be fully open with the white petals framing the yellow center.
    • The flower is the medicine.
    • Slide two fingers to the top of the stem and pop the flowers off.
    • The stems are edible, but not as flavorful. It’s okay if some stem is harvested with the flower.
  • Picking chamomile flowers (every day) often forces it to produce more flowers.
  • You can buy mature, dried chamomile flowers online HERE.

USING CHAMOMILE

Drying chamomile tea:

  • Lay the flowers out in a cool, dry place for 1-2 weeks.
    • They can be sun-dried, but the color fades and the flavor weakens slightly with this method.
  • Alternatively, flowers can also be dehydrated on a very low temperature (95°F − 32°C).

Making chamomile tea:

  • Fresh flower tea — Add 4 tablespoons of fresh chamomile flowers to one cup of 212°F (100°C) water.
    • Steep for five minutes or more.
  • Dried flower tea — Add 1−1.5 teaspoons of dried chamomile flowers to one cup of 212°F (100°C) water.
  • The tea will have a crisp apple scent. Sweeten with honey if desired. It also tastes good with a mint sprig or lemon juice.

Making chamomile infused oil:

  • Use bone-dry chamomile flowers.
    • The water in fresh flowers would seep into oil and cause the oil to become rancid.
  • Fill a mason jar half way with dried flowers.
  • Pour a carrier oil over the top, such as sweet almond oil.
  • Seal the jar with a lid.
  • Shake the jar.
  • Put it on a shelf somewhere and give it a shake every now then.
  • Leave the jar on the shelf for 2−8 weeks. The longer you can leave it the better so it infuses the flower oils and flavonoids into the oil.
  • Strain the out the flowers.
    • You can do this through cheesecloth. Place the cheesecloth over a bowl and with the flowers in the cloth, wring the oil out of the cloth/flowers into the oil in the bowl. Store oil in a jar.
  • How to use this oil:
    • In a diffuser
    • In a spray: dilute 10-15 drops per ounce of water in a glass spray bottle.
      • The oil will break down plastics over time so glass is important.
    • On a compress—Soak a towel or cloth in warm water, add 1-2 drops of diluted chamomile oil and apply to problematic area (like back or stomach)

Making a chamomile tincture:

Wellness Mama has published an article with a chamomile tincture recipe. Find it HERE: https://wellnessmama.com/remedies/chamomile-tincture/




Source 1(Drying/Making Chamomile Tea): “How to Grow Chamomile From Seed (And Make Your Own Tea),” Epic Gardening, Apr 17, 2021, Youtube.com

Source 2 (Medicinal): “Medicinal Benefits of Chamomile,” HomeGrown Herbalist, Jun 1, 2019, Youtube.com

Source 3 ( Benefits of): “Health Benefits of Chamomile – Dr. Jim Collins,” Dr. Jim Collins, Jun 14, 2021, Youtube.com

Source 4 (oil making): “Make Homemade Chamomile Lotion (step-by-step from fresh flowers to natural skincare),” Lovely Greens ,Jul 23, 2020, Youtube.com

Source 5 (Using oil): “The 8 Proven Benefits of Chamomile Oil and How to Use It,” Jill Seladi-Schulman, Ph.D., August 14, 2019, Healthline.com

Source 6 (Info): “What you DIDN’T know about Chamomile! Growing | Harvesting | Uses,” OFF GRID with DOUG & STACY, June 15, 2020, Youtube.com

Source 7 (Info): “Health Benefits of Chamomile,” HealthBenefitsTimes.Com,

Contributor: Sheryl C.S. Johnson 7/6/2022

Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm

Melissa officinalis, also known as lemon balm, balm, or bee balm, has a mild, lemon scent and attracts bees. This perennial in the mint family grows up to 32 inches tall and enjoys partial shade. While it can grow in a sunny environment, the efficacy of the medicinal properties of the plant are stronger when it has been harvested in spring, early summer, or from a partially shaded plant.

This article will explore the medicinal properties of lemon balm, how to plant it, how to dry it, and how to create lemon balm tea, lemon balm tincture, and lemon balm elixir.

Lemon Balm Medicinal Properties:

  • Nervine: Anti-anxiety, relaxing, calming mood elevator
  • Sleep aid: relaxes without leaving a dull, brain-fog feeling
  • Anti-viral: (very good for herpes virus)
    • Treats shingles & cold sores
    • Represses viral loads
  • Stomach calming: treats diarrhea and nausea, improves appetite, relieves bloating
  • Anti-spasmodic: beneficial for menstrual pain
  • Diuretic
  • Heart herb: helps with palpitations, assists with lowering blood pressure
  • Mood lifter
  • Insect repellant: can be crushed and rubbed on skin

Planting Lemon Balm: Lemon balm can be planted from stems.

  • Cut a stem
  • Trim off leaves, keeping only a few attached on the stem.
  • Plant the stem.
  • Lemon balm can also be planted from a clump with roots.

Drying Lemon Balm:

  • Bundle by gathering the cut end of the stems together.
  • Band the ends together.
  • Hang upside down by the banded ends in a dry environment for approximately two weeks or until the leaves crumble to the touch.
  • Un-band the bundle.
  • Stem by stem, strip the dried leaves into a large paper bag.
  • Put dried leaves into a canning jar with a tight seal.
  • Store out of direct light.

Making and Using Lemon Balm Tea:

  • Chop lemon balm so it will better infuse into the hot water.
  • Place chopped lemon balm in a loose-leaf tea pot
  • Pour boiled, hot water into the pot.
  • To make a medicinal or therapeutic herbal infusion let it brew with a lid on in the pot for a full 15–20 minutes.
  • The strength of your tea will vary with your plant to water ratio. More plant=stronger tea.
  • You can place 2 parts of lemon balm tea with 1 part honey in a mason jar in your fridge for quick access. Children like the sweet taste. It helps them sleep at night.

Making Lemon Balm Tincture:

  • Coarsely chop clean, dry lemon balm (stems and all)
  • Place plant matter in a mason jar.
  • Pour 100 proof or 80 proof vodka over lemon balm to the top of jar to avoid oxidation.
    • 100 proof vodka is 50% water and 50% alcohol (good for sanitary elixir).
      • The vodka extracts alcohol-based properties of the plant.
      • The water extracts water-based properties of the plant.
    • Place the lid on the jar.
    • Label jar with contents and date.
    • Store in a cool, dark place for 6–8 weeks.
    • Place cheesecloth over a bowl.
    • Dump jar contents into the bowl, letting liquid strain through the cloth.
    • Gather the plant matter in the cheesecloth and wring out the moisture into the bowl.
    • An average dose of lemon balm tincture is 5–10 drops as needed.
    • The tincture liquid can now be stored in labeled, amber tincture dropper bottles in a cool, dark place.

Making Lemon Balm Honey Elixir:

  • Coarsely chop fresh lemon balm.
  • Place plant matter in a mason jar.
  • Pour 100 proof vodka over lemon balm in mason jar until the jar is half full of the vodka. (plant matter will probably be higher than the vodka in the jar.)
  • Fill the rest of the jar with raw honey (to just under ½” under the top rim). The alcohol content is going to stop the honey from fermenting. The raw honey is helps with extracting water-based properties of the plant matter.
  • Stir mixture.
  • Place the lid on the jar.
  • Let it sit in a cool, dark place for 6–8 weeks.

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Source 1 (tincture): “How to make Lemon Balm tincture,” She of the Woods, Apr 16, 2018, Youtube.Com

Source 2 (drying): “Lemon Balm: Harvest and Use – Millcreek Herbs,” Merry Harrison, Dec 9, 2015, Youtube.Com

Source 3 (harvesting/benefits): “Lemon Balm Benefits,” Resilience Daily, May 31, 2020, Youtube.com

Source 4 (elixir): “How to make a Lemon Balm elixir!,” She Is Of The Woods, May 14, 2018, Youtube.com

Source 5 (harvesting tincture): “Herbal Tinctures,” P. Allen Smith, Sep 15, 2018, Youtube.com

Source 6 (benefits of, tea preparation): “The Power of Lemon Balm,” Danu’s Irish Herb Garden, Apr 11, 2021, Youtube.com

Source 7 (image): Lemon_balm_1.jpg

Source 8 (image): Melissa_officinalis_(lemon_balm).jpg

Source 9 (image): Lemon balm found in Glasgow.jpg

Source 10 (sweet lemon balm tea for the fridge): “Making Lemon Balm Syrup and Sowing Willy Nilly | VLOG | Roots and Refuge Farm,” Roots and Refuge Farm, Jun 6, 2019, Youtube.com

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Compiled and published to web Saturday, June 11, 2022 by Sheryl C.S. Johnson