How to Dry Your Own Flowers for Tea
After tending to the garden all summer, harvest some blooms for the ultimate cuppa.
Cultivating your own flowers for tea is much easier than you'd expect—all it takes is a few simple steps. "Making floral tea at home is such enjoyment of leisure, which we can all learn more about during this strange time," says Feng Ye, the founder of the New York-based tea house, Sage Collective. "In my culture, people drink flower tea also for its health and beauty benefits. Flower petals have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties; their essential oils improve complexion and help soothe the mood."
All you have to do is dry your petals and steep them, which means choosing the correct flowers to grow and harvest from the start. Not all flowers work well in tea, notes Ye. "Chrysanthemum, hibiscus, and chamomile flowers are great ones to start with," she suggests. After you select your variety, give them all they need to grow—like the correct planting soil and ample garden space—since they'll need to be fully mature before you harvest them to brew.
Once the flowers have opened, pluck them from the bottom of the stem, so that the crown and petals aren't damaged in the process. Once removed, clip the flowers, leaving only the crown of petals and bud (the stems can be composted or disposed of back into the garden). Now, the flowers are ready to be cleaned and prepared for consumption. "Gently wipe the petals clean with a bit of water, and allow them to dry on a bamboo net or cheese cloth in direct sunlight," Ye advises. "Rotate or move them every few hours. The bamboo or cloth will make it easier to move them—they're fragile."
When the petals have fully dried, store them in a sealed container, which will preserve them until you're ready to make a cup of tea. When it's time to do so, Ye recommends using only the flowers, as opposed to mixing in other aromatics and botanicals. "Floral teas aren't always mixed with other things, in order to keep them less caffeinated," says Ye. "So, I just like to make tea with just the flowers." As for the specifics of brewing? "I suggest making flower tea with less hot water, around 195 degrees. Steep for three to four minutes," she notes. "A glass teapot is ideal for brewing and enjoying beautiful colors at the same time."