Create handmade and heartfelt gifts by following the simple tips and instructions provided by Jennifer Worick in Simple Gifts: 50 Little Luxuries to Craft, Sew, Cook & Knit (Voyageur Press, 2010). Not only does Worick outline eco-conscious gifts for any holiday or occasion, she also provides resourceful ideas for gift wrapping. The following excerpt from chapter seven, "Foodstuffs," teaches how to dry and make your own tea for a soothing, warm and thoughtful gift.
You can purchase this book from the Capper’s Farmer store: Simple Gifts
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I have dabbled with other beverages—coffee, hot chocolate, chai—but I always return to my true love: tea. And within the world of tea, I have options for every mood and malady. I drink peppermint tea to perk up, chamomile to wind down, and all sorts of blends to help with headaches, colds, sore throats, and the like. And while I like purchasing tins and bags and boxes of loose tea and tea bags, I found out it’s surprisingly easy to dry your own herbs and make your own teas. All-around crafty lady Dawn Zeligman showed me how.
How to Dry and Make Your Own Tea
SIMPLY PERFECT FOR: Tea drinkers, genteel folks, Anglophiles
Several bunches of tea-worthy herbs (chamomile or mint, for example)
Twine or string
Mortar and pestle
Self-sealable tea bags (optional)
Gather your herbs. Pick up some bunches of herbs such as chamomile or mint at a local farmers market, or grow your own. If you grow your own, harvest the herbs before they go to seed (this happens when you see blooms).
Rinse herbs thoroughly and then bundle them up, tying the stems securely but not so tightly that they will break off when dry.
Hang your herbs upside down from the ceiling, high enough that pets and kids can’t disturb them. Look for a dry location with no direct sunlight.
When the herbs are dry (crinkling, with no trace of moisture in the stems), pull them down and prepare your tea. Remove the leaves from the stems and place them in a mortar or bowl, crushing coarsely with a pestle. Do not use metal for this, as it can react with the natural oils in the herbs. If you do not have a mortar and pestle, you can use your hands (just make sure they are clean and dry). When the leaves are crushed evenly, the tea is ready to be blended or packaged.
For single-herb teas, scoop up your herbs and package them in a small airtight container such as a clean and sterilized baby food jar.
If you’d like to blend, transfer your herbs to small bowls and label them accordingly. In a small bowl, experiment with a few herbs. Consider blending relaxing herbs such as chamomile, skullcap, and valerian, but steep one cup at a time to sample, taking notes about ratios and quantities. Once you’re happy with the mix, blend a larger quantity for gift giving.
Tip: Blending the perfect tea takes time. Learn to enjoy the process of making tea as much as drinking and giving it. For an uplifting mix, try mixing lemon balm and spearmint.
Wrap It Up
Package your tea with a tea ball or strainer, or with a flavored sugar. Write out instructions for steeping, along with a personal note. You can also include quotes about tea or a short history of where the herbs came from. If you really want to wow a friend, name a blend after someone. Even better, create a different blend every year; your friends will look forward to your latest concoction.
Reprinted with permission from Simple Gifts: 50 Little Luxuries to Craft, Sew, Cook, & Knit by Jennifer Worick and published by Voyageur Press, 2010. Purchase this book from our store: Simple Gifts.