It’s easy to cultivate a tea garden in a kitchen, on a windowsill, balcony, or in any garden bed. Making your own tea yields ingredients with more potency and flavor than store-bought. A winter tea mix of lemon balm, lavender and chamomile is a blend for a relaxing bedtime infusion. A mix of mint, lemon verbena and thyme is a soothing balm for our collective anxieties.
Position your plants to receive at least six hours of sun every day. Herbs want to be kept on the dry side so make sure your pots have drainage holes. Harvest foliage from plants such as mint, lemon verbena, lemon balm and thyme before they flower: Once a plant blooms, the leaves lose freshness and become bitter. Harvest flowers such as lavender, thyme or chamomile as soon as they start to bloom and before the blossom starts to decline.
Collect around 5 percent of a plant’s total volume each time you trim; you want to make a clean cut for the health of the plant, cutting down to the next set of leaves and removing any damaged ones. Wash your harvest under the tap carefully and then gently dry the herbs and flowers with paper towels, otherwise you risk bruising them and leaching out their essential oils.

Gather herbs into small bunches and hang them upside down. To preserve flower heads such as chamomile, lay them out in wicker trays or baskets. Once your ingredients are completely dry, the process of destemming can begin: Strip the leaves or flowers from their stalks before storing them in airtight glass jars. Store your crop in a cool place and away from sunlight.