If you replace your teabags with leaf tea, a teapot or a tea ball/tea infuser, you will save many dollars and it is more ecological to cut out the bleached bags, staples and paper required in a teabag. Think about the old swaggies and their billy tea!
They didn’t even use a strainer, just a recycled tin around the size of a Milo tin, boil water on the fire throw in your tea leaves (one teaspoon per person and one for the pot) add a handful of juicy gum leaves after the tea has been brewing for 2 minutes. Brew 3 minutes longer. Then remove the ‘Billy’ from the fire, hold it at arm’s length and whirl it in a circle (vertically) at least 3 times. This settles the leaves and you don’t need to strain it.
There’ll be the occasional leaf, but my Grandad always said that he enjoyed the texture on his teeth, so don’t fuss with it.
After you finish your cuppa, tip the leaves on your camellias as mulch as they love it, being from the same plant family. You can make Billy Tea on the BBQ and you can buy an authentic tin Billy with a lid from any camping or army disposals shop.
Other great teas you can make can be harvested from the backyard: sage, mint, ti-tree leaves, lemon zest, red hibiscus flowers, lemongrass, chamomile, and you can even add a small piece of chili if you want to ward off colds.
Beware of poisonous plants like oleander or rhus or the castor oil plant. You can get a list of these from the Burnley Gardens Horticultural College or ask your local nurseryman if you are in doubt.
You will need around 3-4 teaspoons of fresh herbs or 1 of dried herbs to make a tisane. Add to a cup of boiling water and brew for 5 minutes. I usually just keep topping it up with water until it is obviously too weak to drink. As well, if you are a cordial maker, you can add your herb tea to any cordial recipe for that extra zing.
- Harvest early in the day, after the dew has dried, but while the herbs are still lush in the cool of the morning.
- Most herbs are at their peak just before they bloom.
- Try not to tear or crush the herbs until you are ready to use them. You don’t want to waste any of the essential oils.
- Harvest all your herbs at the end of the season, once a frost is forecast. You can dry the herbs whole and store for winter teas or for use as seasonings.
If you aren’t into growing your own, you can always buy some delicious teas online from teas.com.au
Let us know your favourite recipes in the comments so we can all share the love of tea!