Regular readers of my gardening blogs will know I love growing plants that not only look pretty but that you can use in cooking as well. But I do appreciate this isn’t always easy to do, especially if you don’t have much outside space. However, with self-care and wellness very much on my mind at the moment, I want to share the benefits and pleasures of growing a tea garden indoors. Because many herbs are tender and are better grown indoors anyway. And because if you enjoy herbal teas, but growing your own isn’t something you’ve tried before, then you might be surprised at how easy and fun it can be.
- 1 Growing a tea garden indoors – why grow your own tea?
- 2 Tea garden plants – which ones to choose?
- 3 The specific health benefits of growing herbs for tea
- 4 Growing a tea garden indoors – further information
Growing a tea garden indoors – why grow your own tea?
Well, because Nature is incredibly generous and many plants have fabulous medicinal properties. Think about all the herbs we use in cooking. They’re not only flavour enhancers, they can aid digestion and boost our immune system too. So why not grow a few to use for tea as well as, or even instead of, cooking? And you don’t have to restrict yourself to fresh herbs either. You can use some flowering plants for your home grown tea too. As far as the practicalities of growing an indoor tea garden (pots, soil, water, light etc), rather than make this post a REALLY long one (!), please may I refer you to these tips for growing edible plants indoors.
Tea garden plants – which ones to choose?
Really, there’s no right or wrong answer. The best herbs for homemade tea are ones you will use and enjoy. If you don’t like the look or the flavour, don’t grow them. You’ll find plenty of herbal tea plants in most supermarkets. Or you can order seeds online and enjoy growing your tea garden indoors from scratch (which I think is more fun 🙂 ). In previous years I’ve also bought plants from street markets, although that’s more of a challenge right now. And when it comes to making your teas, I find the essential oils react to boiling water better when I use a few fresh leaves or flower heads rather than air dried ones. But that’s my personal preference, obviously you can do whatever suits you best. Tip: don’t remove too many leaves at once though, or you might kill your plants.
The specific health benefits of growing herbs for tea
Here are the 13 herbs and plants that I think are easy to grow indoors for the most benefits. You might use some of them in cooking anyway, and those that you don’t will still look pretty around your house – win, win!
Growing basil indoors is always useful for garnishing pizzas and pasta dishes. However, basil tea can not only help relieve stress but also alleviate bad breath. Apparently (I haven’t tried this yet) if combined with honey and ginger, it can help with asthma, coughs and colds too. And basil tea may also lower your blood sugar level (good to know for diabetics) and help with heart disease.
Chamomile or Camomile
I have to confess I hate the taste of chamomile tea, it reminds me of stewed grass. But I’ve not tried fresh chamomile, only the dried stuff in teabags so perhaps I’m being unfair. Anyway, there’s a reason chamomile is recommended as a bedtime drink; because it lowers stress levels, reduces inflammation, and improves sleep. Which is perfect as it gives our bodies a chance to repair themselves while we’re sleeping. It’s not called beauty sleep for nothing.
Growing ginger indoors is a no brainer. It’s a brilliant antioxidant with antibacterial properties and both its roots and leaves can be used to make tea. Both Chinese medicines and Ayurveda recommend ginger tea for all sorts of ailments such as colds, flu, nausea, and to generally improve digestion and appetite. Plus it’s delicious, with a welcome warming kick to boot.
I’ve written previously about growing lavender indoors and its culinary uses. But a cup of antioxidant lavender tea before bedtime isn’t only a natural way of easing anxiety and improving sleep. For me, it’s also a deliciously calming and fragrant treat at any time of the day.
Alan’s aftershave of choice is fragranced with uplifting lemon verbena but in tea this versatile tender herb helps reduce inflammation, calm the nerves, and aid digestion. I made the mistake of leaving my verbena plant outside and the first frost killed it. I’ll be growing it inside from now on.
I often enjoy fresh lemon balm tea, I find it very calming. This is another wonderful herbal tea to try for easing anxiety and improving sleep. But it’s best to confine it to a small pot as it can frequently take over any mixed herb pot or mixed bed. Alternatively, if you’re opting for a dried version, this Black Leaves Organic Lemon Balm is probably one of the best varieties out there.
Another lemon herb, growing thyme indoors is something many of us do for cooking. But this is probably the best lemon herb to use in tea from a medicinal point of view. It can provide relief from bronchitis, whooping cough and similar illnesses, and treat bloating and indigestion. Plus it’s antifungal and antibacterial properties can help to prevent and/or treat gingivitis and other dental problems too.
Marjoram tea is the one to go to for help with various digestion and stomach problems including poor appetite, liver disease, gallstones, intestinal gas, and stomach cramps. It can also ease colds, calm nerves, and alleviate travel sickness. And based what I learned when working for my essential oils client, I think this is probably a must grow for any indoor tea garden.
I’m a firm believer in growing mint indoors, in small pots to keep its thuggish tendencies under control. And because you can grow such a wide range of flavours (grapefruit, apple, chocolate to name but a few). But sweet Moroccan mint is what you’ll often find used in tea. And not only is it rich in antioxidants, it’s also great digestion aid after a heavy or rich meal.
Much like mint, geraniums, or pelargoniums, come in a variety of fragrances and flavours – rose, citronella, pineapple, and mint. We have a rose geranium, Pelargonium graveolens, and her naturally antiseptic, antibacterial and antifungal leaves make the most delicious calming and relaxing tea. They’re tender plants and won’t survive a winter outside so growing geraniums indoors makes perfect sense.
Sage is another fantastic herb for cooking and teas, so growing sage indoors ensures it’s always to hand. Sage comes in different flavours (including pineapple!) and improves digestion, eases heartburn, helps sore throats, laryngitis, and tonsillitis, and can even tackle mouth ulcers and gum infection. Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, sage tea is also a known tool for helping depression. Really, why wouldn’t you grow this wonderful herb?
Rosemary is one of my favourite herbs in our garden. The bees adore her flowers and I adore rubbing her leaves between my fingers to release those refreshing essential oils. But growing rosemary indoors is perfectly possible too and her antioxidant properties can improve digestion, promote mental alertness and help protect from heart disease as well.
Viola or Heartsease
Last but not least, violas are a must grow for any tea garden. Not only are the flowers delicious and decorative, the leaves of this purifying herb make a brilliant tea for treating skin complaints such as eczema. This anti-inflammatory tea can also benefit asthma sufferers and ease chest complaints such as bronchitis and whooping cough. Lastly, it’s also a diuretic and can be beneficial for cystitis – great to know if you’re not a fan of cranberry juice…
Growing a tea garden indoors – further information
So there we are, a beginner’s guide to growing your own tea garden indoors. If I’ve piqued your interest and you’d like to find out more, one of the books I’ve found most helpful in my own tea garden experiments is Jekka McVicar’s Cottage Garden Herbs. Sadly, it’s now out of print but her Complete Herb Book* (written in association with the Royal Horticultural Society) would be a brilliant alternative. However, if you’re eager to get started on growing your own teas right away, then why not try a Grow Your Own Chamomile Tea Starter Kit*? Or if you’re really inspired, then this Grow 4 of Your Own Organic Herbal Teas Kit* is a good option too. It even comes with a Tea Infuser for easier tea making 🙂 Whatever you decide, I really hope you have a go at growing and enjoying some herbs for teas and their health benefits. Good luck, have fun, and do let me know how you get on!
Do you enjoy drinking herbal teas? Did you realise how easy it is to grow your own tea garden indoors? Or how many health benefits you can reap from a simple container of herbs? Have you ever tried to grow your own herbal teas? What tea garden plants appeal to you the most?
(* This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission at no cost to you if you make any purchases using these links).