Having worked with herbs for many years, and being mostly self-taught, it’s always a bit surprising to hear friends and guests ask me, “how can I use this mint?” or “what’s this good for?” or “what do you do with this?”.
The simplest way to use any herb is of course to make a tea. However, when the temperature spikes and time is of the essence, hot tea and the time it takes to brew it may not be convenient. Why not enjoy some plain herb water?
If you’re just starting out with herbs and don’t really know what to do with your garden treasures, the simplest way is to stick a few sprigs of mint, lemon balm, hyssop or whatever combination you want (or have) in a glass bottle or jar, fill the jar with water and just let it sit. You may gently crush the herbs with your hands before stuffing them in the jar, this releases some of the juices. After several hours you’ll see the water take on a gentle shade of color and you’ll know that now the water is flavored. At this point you can drink it, or place it in the fridge to chill it for later.
Getting familiar with these flavored waters is a good way for you to decide whether you like a particular herb or not. If you have a sweet tooth you can add some honey or maple syrup. Using stevia as sweetener in herb water is better, it’s light and doesn’t change the flavor of the herbs. Remember, this is only weak, flavored water, not a full-bodied tea.
My favorite herb water is any minty or lemony herb. Early summer that would be lemon balm or spearmint. Mid-summer I’ll move onto chocolate or candy lime mint, ginger mint is good too. Late summer, if my lemon verbena has done well, I’ll steep some of its leaves, the lemon flavor is amazing.
Some other suggestions for flavored water are:
- Monarda (bee balm)
- Lemon thyme
- Orange thyme
- Lemon Catnip
- Pineapple Sage
- Lime Balm
- Borage (young leaves and flowers)
Have fun playing around with your own herbs. I’m sure I’ve forgotten to mention several other great herbs to flavor your water with. What are some of your favorite ones?