For some reason this fall, I feel on edge. I'm irritable and not enjoying the weather the way I should. I adore this weather -- with its cool breezes, falling leaves and brisk winds, but I'm not fully emerged in it. Too much on my mind -- too many little projects that I should just let go of, but instead I keep hammering to death. I think it is time for a little tea. Calm the soul -- warm the tummy and hopefully make those brisk breezes just a little more enjoyable.
I always make tea in the evening (mornings are for coffee, don't you know?) and I simply grab a steak knife and head into the garden. I chop off big hunks of whatever is growing in bulk -- various mints, lemon balm, chamomile and sometimes stevia.
This little plant is called stevia and it is supposed to be far sweeter than sugar. I have tried the powdered baking stevia and I did not like it in chocolate bars, while this stevia used fresh in tea also has a cloying taste. I'm willing to give it a few more tries, but I'm almost ready to give stevia a thumbs down.
In any case, I collect all of my herbs by finding the greenest, newest leaves I can find and cut off big chunks until I have a very large handful. If your herbs haven't been harvested recently, they will be old, tough and bitter. Try chopping them down to 3" or even a little lower and then try again in a week. Fresh growth will have emerged and it will be fresh and sweet.
Once you have a bundle that is so large it almost falls out of your hand, give it a shake outside to make sure no bugs are lingering (those little white spiders are beasts!), then run the herbs under the tap to remove any dirt that might still be on the leaves. Shove the whole shebang into the tea kettle, add a quarter sized bit of honey (omit if using stevia) and fill to the "fill line" with water (3-4 cups usually). Give the whole thing a good stir.
Heat the tea kettle on high until the water boils or the teakettle whistles. Pull it off the heat and allow the herbs to really "stew" in there. Give the mix another good stir to make sure the honey has broken up and after 10 minutes or so, pour yourself a steaming cup of calming herbal tea. I strain the tea through a small tea mesh strainer, but any strainer will do.