Drying Herbs For Tea: Finest Strategies For A Tasty Homegrown Brew

Drying herbs for tea is a simple way to sample some of summer’s bounty long after the garden succumbs to fall chills or gets blanketed in winter snow. So how do you dry herbs for tea? For most of us, fresh herbs from the garden have natural peaks of activity and longevity, which is why drying herbs for tea is essential for extending the usefulness of those key flavors and fragrances. Here, we consider the best ways to dry herbs for tea.

Best Time to Harvest Herbs

Before you dry your herbs, you need to harvest them. To get the best-tasting tea herbs, you need to know precisely when to harvest them. Herbs get their flavor from essential oils that are located in the cells of the plant. When the leaves, flowers or other aromatic parts of the plant are crushed, their flavor is released.

Essential oils are at their peak in the early morning. For maximum flavor, plan to harvest your herbs on a dry day, ideally in the morning after the dew has dried.

Best Ways to Dry Herbs for Tea

There are several ways to dry herbs for tea. When drying herbs for tea, tender herbs such as basil, lemon balm and mint should be dried by hanging bundles of the herb. Other more robust herbs can be dried in the microwave, oven or dehydrator, or air-dried like the tender herbs.

Before you decide how to dry herbs for tea, rinse them well with water. Hardy herbs can be held under a gentle stream or light spray of water while tender herbs can be placed in a bowl of water and gently swished around. Lay the herbs out to dry on paper towels or put them in a salad spinner to dry. Keep in mind a salad spinner will bruise leaves and release those essential oils, so only use it for hardy-leaved herbs.

How You Can Air-Dry Herbs For Tea

To air-dry the rinsed herbs, simply bundle the herbs you wish to dry together and secure the bundle with twine or something similar. Hardier herbs like parsley, summer savory, rosemary, thyme and sage are easier to dry than tender herbs.

You can hang your herb bundles outside to dry, but ideally dry them indoors to retain their color and flavor. Keep different kinds of herbs in their own bundle and label them if you think you might mix them up.

Tender herbs should be tied together in small bunches, then placed inside a paper bag that has been vented by cutting holes at the top and sides. Secure the bag at the top with a rubber band or twine. Hang the paper bag filled with the herb bundle in an area with good air circulation such as an attic, kitchen or other warm, dry place.

Another way to dry those tender herbs is to lay them on a layer of clean paper towels on a tray. Drying will take about five-10 days using this method.

Dry Herbs in Oven, Dehydrator or Microwave

Another way to dry herbs is in the oven. Set your oven to 180°F (820°C) or lower. Lay the herbs out on a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper. When mastering how to dry herbs for tea in the oven, one of the tricks is not to overcrowd or overlap them. Allow them to dry in the oven for two-four hours.

Oven drying isn’t the most recommended way to dry, since the hot air will essentially cook the herbs, losing optimal flavor. When drying herbs for tea, a better way might be to use a dehydrator. Remove the leaves or flowers from the stems and lay them out in a single layer on the dehydrator tray. You may need to line the tray with a leather sheet or mesh first. Dehydrate the herbs at 950°F (350°C). The length of time a dehydrator takes to dry herbs varies depending on the herb and size of the leaves but it runs from five-18 hours.

Another way to dry your herbs is by using the microwave. Place the herbs you wish to dry between two layers of paper towel. Make sure not to overlap or overcrowd the herbs. Microwave for a minute, testing dryness every 20 seconds. This method works best on woody herbs like oregano, sage and thyme plants; not so well on tender herbs.Every microwave is different, so check on the drying progress often.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Does it Take to Dry Herbs for Tea?

The length of time it takes to dry herbs for tea depends on the drying method you use and the type of herb. Drying herbs in the oven may take a couple of hours, in the dehydrator five-18 hours and air dried, five-10 days.

What Herbs Are Best to Dehydrate for Tea?

The best herbs for tea depend upon your taste buds. Try drying several herbs and sample them. You may find you like them better mixed with actual tea or with other flavorings like orange peel or the addition of stevia leaf or a combination of herbs. Mints, sage and chamomile are some favorites.

What Herbs Should Not Be Dried?

Delicate herbs such as chive, basil, parsley, tarragon, dill, mint, and lemon balm do not dry well. They have a high moisture content that facilitates mold if not dried quickly, yet they are too delicate to dry quickly. It is better to use these herbs fresh for optimal flavor.

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