If you’re a new real food household, your family may be missing out on the drinks they previously enjoyed. Even though we’ve been on this journey for several years, my kids still ask for that neon orange stuff that passes for juice. Yuck!
Once you ditch the sodas and colored drinks, you may not want to sip plain old water. What’s a family to do?
The answer for my family has been tea.
We drink gallons of herbal tea every week. We’ve gone beyond the supermarket box of 24 tea bags and explored lots of new flavors. Along the way, we discovered we LOVE herbal tea and it’s fun to make up our own blends.
Making it yourself is so much more affordable too. One gallon of yummy herbal tea costs about a quarter – such a deal! Drinks like this make it a bit easier for us to live beneath our means.
Why go to the bother of making loose herbal tea?
Of course there are the benefits to avoiding the chemicals and colors in typical store-bought sodas and juices. Did you know drinking a 12 oz glass of 100% apple juice contains 39 grams of sugar? That’s like eating 3 cookies!
I don’t know about you, but I prefer to save my calories for important things like pumpkin fudge or stove-popped popcorn. I’m not going to waste calories on a drink that’s gone before I even realize it. For my kids, I’d much rather they eat a piece of fruit than drink the juice. That way they get ALL the nutrients whole fruit has to offer, including those found in the skin and the fiber from within the fruit.
Other benefits of herbal tea
- no caffeine
- can be enjoyed by the whole family
- can be consumed warm or cold
- super frugal when purchased in bulk (see the cost breakdown below)
- soothing when you’re suffering from illness
Ok – so how does this work?
So maybe you’d like to try making loose herbal tea, but you don’t know where to start. Let me show you our favorite flavors.
Our favorite flavors of tea are:
Peppermint – This is our standard tea. It’s refreshing in summer, warming in the winter, and smells heavenly. Just wait until you take a whiff of the loose peppermint leaves!
Spearmint – Smells just like Wrigley’s gum!
Raspberry Leaf – This one smells more like traditional black tea to me. This is also called red raspberry leaf. It has a wonderfully rich flavor. It’s also great for pregnant mamas after the first trimester.
Red Rooibos – A delicious, almost fruity tea with more flavor than peppermint. (Bonus – this one’s high in antioxidants!)
Chamomile – I’m the only one who likes chamomile so we don’t make this often very often but it is lovely. Chamomile tea is very light and delicate.
Herbal tea, unlike black tea, is very forgiving, and does not get bitter if you leave the tea in the water for too long.
How to brew loose herbal tea
Fine mesh strainer or fillable tea bags.
Boil water. Use 1 teaspoon of loose tea per cup of water. I usually make it a gallon at a time (here’s how to do this efficiently). Let sit herbs steep for 3-5 minutes (or longer if you’re not using Rooibos). Strain loose tea or remove tea bag. Sweeten with stevia or honey and enjoy.
Favorite flavor combos
You can drink any of these teas by themselves or you can mix them for more interesting combinations. Try out these blends (1 part of each flavor):
- Peppermint / spearmint – can’t have too much minty-ness!
- Raspberry leaf / peppermint – like a peppermint black tea
- Red Rooibos / raspberry leaf – robust and rich
- Loose peppermint leaves: $11/pound
We use 1/3 cup dried herbs for a gallon of tea. This quantity weighs about 10 grams (yep – I weighed it). At this rate, you can get 45 gallons of brewed tea from one pound of herb, making each gallon cost 24 ¢!
Add on a few pennies for the shipping cost and maybe a penny or two more for the sweetener of your choice and you’ve got a very frugal and delicious drink!
The numbers for the other herbs are almost identical except for the Rooibos, which works out to be just 20¢ a gallon. Much better than what you’ll pay at high end tea and coffee shops!
Where can you get all these herbs?
If you want to try a small quantity, your local health food store probably sells these herbs in their bulk bins. However, I buy all my herbs and spices through Mountain Rose Herbs. I’m always amazed at how much fresher and more fragrant their products are than the spices you buy at the grocery store.
Mountain Rose Herbs is also where I buy the ingredients for my flu-fighting elderberry syrup.
For as little as 20¢ per gallon, these herbal teas are so budget friendly and yummy that we always have a jar of tea available.
If you’d like to make tea a part of your daily diet, check out my tutorial for how to efficiently brew a gallon (or more) of herbal tea.