As I’ve mentioned in other posts, the Taylor family decided to do all homemade gifts this year. For Dan’s Dad, we decided to make homegrown herbal tea. Way back in the spring time we bought a couple of herbs: peppermint and lemon balm. Despite our frequent moves and time in the hospital we managed to grow and harvest enough to make enough tea bags for one Christmas gift. If we’d been more diligent about harvesting our plants, or if we’d had better growing conditions, I’m sure we could have made a lot more.
The first step, once the plants were growing well, was to harvest the leaves periodically. I snipped off shoots and leaves with some kitchen scissors and set them on cookie sheets to air dry. You could also use a dehydrator, the oven, or hang them upside-down in brown paper bags, but I chose the lazy way.
By December I had a nice collection of dry leaves. It only took me one night to put them all together, although it was a late night. I made ten tea bags and it probably took a couple of hours. To make your own tea bags, you’ll need:
-herbs of your choice (I used lemon balm and peppermint)
-mortar and pestle (optional, totally unnecessary)
-sewing machine (also optional, but speeds up the process considerably)
I smashed my leaves up up in a mortar and pestle, but you could also just use your fingers.
Next I cut out my tea bags from coffee filters. I took apart a store-bought tea bag and cut my own to match, but you could just eyeball it. The exact dimensions aren’t extremely important.
Now fold your coffee filter in half, hotdog style, and line up your edges. Don’t flatten the fold down, because this is just a temporary fold. Sew with a 1/4 inch seam all the way across. Trim your thread.
Next you’ll open up the tea bag and fold it with the seam on top.
Flatten your seam open.
Was that too confusing? Here’s a picture that shows the process, top to bottom:
Now for the fun part! Fill your tea bag.
I found the best way to do this was to pour about half a tea spoon in to the tea bag, shake it down toward to bottom (pinch the end so none falls out), then pour the second half in. This way the tea is distributed throughout the tea bag, which is important because the next step is to fold your tea bag in half, hotdog style this time.
Looking good, right? Now, you’re going to fold down your corners and the top opening as seen here:
Back to the sewing machine, if you’re using one, for the tea bag string. Start in the center on top of the tea bag and sew down a few stitches. Don’t forget to backstitch here too. Then pause with your needle all the way down. Rotate the tea bag 180 degrees and sew back up.
I actually had a friend cut out and make my labels from card stock. These are the little tabs that hang off the end of the tea bags. I copied the store-bought tea bag method of attaching these but it was unnecessary. You can just tie them on, but for completeness I’ll show you what I did:
Tie a knot where you want the tag to rest. There’s my knot:
Cut a small notch in your tea bag tag.
Then thread one strand of the thread you just knotted into your needle. That’s only one strand, not both. Poke your needle carefully through a little bit below the notch you just made.
Pull all the way through until your knot is resting against the tab. Pull the other thread down through your notch and tie the two strands together. Trim your extra thread.
I put mine in a couple of little magnetic tins with their labels showing:
And there you have it. Homegrown, homemade tea bags, start to finish.