As legend has it, the ancient Chinese Emperor Shennong would often drink boiling water for good health. As he sat under a Camellia tree with his one cup a day, the wind wafted a few leaves from overhead into his cup. Delighted by the aroma, he took a sip, and tea was born.
As much as classic teas—white, green, oolong, and black—boast amazing health benefits, herb- and flower-infused teas possess some therapeutic powers of their own. Fragrant jasmine and the Indian spice cardamom can each act as a relaxant, antidepressant, and even an aphrodisiac. Lavender has calming properties as well; as so does antioxidant rosemary, which perfectly complements its aromatic cousin, mint, to aid digestive comfort. Rose is rich in antioxidants, too, and is believed to help soothe menstrual cramps.
But to be honest, the health benefits of any type of tea is just an added bonus to the calming, transcendent experience of sipping it. Infusions take tea to the next level—and we’re not talking about the artificial apple- and orange-flavored stuff on supermarket shelves. Here are six delicate herbal and floral tea blends worthy of a Sunday afternoon DIY project; enjoy them at home, or give them as thoughtful, sophisticated gifts.
Mortar and pestle
Tip: If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, you can use the side of a mug to crush ingredients on a cutting board.
Loose leaf teas:
Tip: In a pinch, you can empty the contents of tea bags and use them instead.
Dried flower petals:
Tip: You can make your own dried petals! First soak fresh flowers in water to remove impurities, then pick off the petals and bake at 200 degrees for a few minutes.
Simply mix together ingredients you like, crushing them as needed to release their aromas—there’s no hard and fast rule in terms of quantities here. Play around until you land on a combination that appeals to you. Place ½ to 1 teaspoon (depending on how strong you like your tea) of your mixture on the center of a coffee filter. Pull the edges of the filter up to form a pouch, and tie it closed with twine, tightly. If you want to add a little tab to the bags, staple a small piece of paper to the end of the twine—you can even label your teas this way.
Go with your intuition, or try any of these combinations we love:
For a calming tea with a hint of dark citrus:
Lavender + Earl Grey
For a soothing, digestive tonic that’s fresh and floral:
Mint + rosemary + lavender
For a spicy green chai:
Green tea + mint + cinnamon + ginger + cardamom + black pepper
For a mild common-cold soother with tartness and spice:
Chamomile + hibiscus + rose + cinnamon
For a sensuous, dark tea with spicy citrus notes:
Black tea + rose + cardamom
Voila! To serve, steep in boiling water just as you would any other tea bag—4 to 5 minutes for black and Earl Grey; 3 to 4 minutes for green tea; and about 10 minutes for straight herbal or floral blends.
Enjoy—under a tree like Emperor Shennong, if you’d like.
Photo credit: Paul Delmont