Friday, July 28, 2017

Bee Balm Tea - DIY Growing, Harvesting & Drying

HiWandergirl

I bought a small Bee Balm plant at Gardens of Babylon last spring and planted it near the corner of the garden. I dreamed of going out my back door and picking blooms for tea and I'd have a great view of the butterflies. It was a little 4-inch pot and it was so small I almost put it in a planter. It did get bigger but I didn't pick the blossoms the first year. My grand idea of making my own herbal teas drowned in a sea of a stressful job in a surface of the sun summer. 

This spring the little Bee Balm came back and brought all its friends. 

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It quickly grew to over 5ft tall and started cuddling up to the echinacea, kale, and squash. I thinned it out and planted it in 3 other places in my yard. It loves the sun! Once established it didn't even need to be watered. The consistent blooming brought in more butterflies and bees than my garden had seen the previous years. Franklin got a lot of rain in June. I used twine and a couple of tomato stakes to encircle the lower half and keep the blooms off the ground.

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Eastern Tiger Swallowtail 
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Hummingbird Moth (they are the cutest!!)

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Pipevine Swallowtail

The entire Bee balm plant is edible. I used the blossoms and the leaves for tea. It's great as a calming before bed tea as it's been known to help with insomnia. As part of the mint family, it is also great for digestion. 

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Bouquets drying in the windowsill. 

Fresh Bee Balm, dried bouquet, and when the dried blooms and leaves are removed. 


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Each small bouquet fills a Mason jar with tea.  I leave it whole and loose but you could also crunch it up and enclose in reusable tea bags. You can make your own from organic cotton muslin, I found a cute DIY post from Little House Living here or buy some on Etsy from Bear Earth Herbals here . 

When I make a large batch of tea I use the French Press. I throw in about an inch high of herbs and pour in my whistling tea pot water, let set to desired strongness, then press. In two 32 oz glass jars I put one tablespoon of maple syrup. I pour in the French press tea in equal parts to the two jars, swish around mixing the syrup then add fresh filtered water (I drink reverse osmosis) until the jars are full. 
Then refrigerate for great iced tea in the summer. 
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