Christmas in a Jar: Fun and Fruity Homemade Teas

Christmas in a Jar: Fun and Fruity Homemade Teas

Strawberry and lime, lemon and ginger, apple and vanilla…sounds like I’m listing candies doesn’t it!

They are in actual fact some of the flavour combinations I have tried out in this ‘Homemade Tea’ post. This number two in my Christmas in a Jar project. We have moved away from the bathroom and homemade bath salts, back to the kitchen!

My sister in law is the inspiration for this post. She loves tea. She’s the one that taught me you should never pour boiling water over your tea as it can burn the ingredients. Makes sense and it’s one of the tips I am going to pass on to you guys: if you make any of these teas, let your freshly boiled water sit for 5 minutes before pouring over the tea!

Once the water has been poured, let it steep for 5-10 minutes to really get out the flavours.

I used my dehydrator to dry all the ingredients but you can use an oven if you don’t have a dehydrator. I love these fruity flavours* I have come up with here and when you open the jars it literally does smell like candy!

*You can totally eat the fruit pieces in the tea mixes. It can be like a tea version of the Pimms cocktail!

F.Y.I, dehydrated strawberries taste AH-mazing!

homemade teas

All recipes listed below make 1 small jar of tea.

Lemon Balm, Lemon and Ginger Tea    

 Ingredients
2 cups fresh lemon balm leaves
Peeled zest of 1 lemon
10 cm ginger, peeled into thin slices

Honey to sweeten

Instructions

In a dehydrator or an oven (set to 60 degrees Celsius,) dry the lemon balm, lemon zest and ginger until they are completely dry. All the ingredients will take between 2-3 hours to dry depending on the size of the pieces.
When the lemon balm is dry, crumble it your fingers, into small pieces. Break the pieces of lemon zest into small pieces and crumble the ginger slices.
Combine everything in a jar and seal.
As long as everything was sufficiently dried, this will last months in a cool dark place.

To serve, add one heaped tablespoon per cup and leave to steep for 5-10 minutes. Strain and add honey to taste. 

Apple, Vanilla and Strawberry Tea with and Earl Grey Base

Ingredients

1 cup fresh strawberries, chopped into small pieces
2 apples, peeled and chopped into small pieces. Keep the peel too
1 fresh vanilla pod
4 tablespoons loose leaf Earl Grey

Instructions

In a dehydrator or an oven (set to 60 degrees Celsius,) dry the strawberries and apple pieces and apple peel until they completely dry, about 5-6 hours depending on the size of the pieces.
When they are dry, put in a jar.
Cut open the vanilla pod and scrape out the seeds. Add the seeds to the jar, as well as the empty pod.
Tear open the tea bags and add in too. Seal the jar.

As long as everything was sufficiently dried, this will last months in a cool dark place.

To serve, add one heaped tablespoon per cup and leave to steep for 5-10 minutes. Strain and add honey to taste. 

Strawberry, Lime and Mint Tea

Ingredients

2 cups fresh mint leaves
Peeled zest of 2 limes
1 cup fresh strawberries, chopped.

Instructions

In a dehydrator or an oven (set to 60 degrees Celsius,) dry the mint leaves, lime zest and strawberries until they are completely dry. The mint leaves and lime will take 1-2 hours and the strawberries between 5-6 hours depending on the size of the pieces.
When the mint is dry, crumble it your fingers, into small pieces. Break the pieces of lime zest into small pieces.
Combine all ingredients in a jar and seal.

As long as everything was sufficiently dried, this will last months in a cool dark place

To serve, add one heaped tablespoon per cup and leave to steep for 5-10 minutes. Strain and add honey to taste. 

Apple, Star anise and Fennel Tea

This one may sound a bit strange but the licoricey taste of the fennel and star anise work well with the sweetness of the apple.

Ingredients

3 apples, chopped, no need to peel
2 tablespoons fennel seeds, smashed a bit in a mortar and pestle
2 star anise, crushed into smaller pieces.
4 tablespoons loose leaf green tea

Instructions

In a dehydrator or an oven (set to 60 degrees Celsius,) dry the apple pieces until completely dry, around 5-6 hours depending on the size of the pieces.
Add the dried apple to a jar along with the fennel and star anise and seal.

As long as the apple was sufficiently dried, this will last months in a cool dark place.

To serve, add one heaped tablespoon per cup and leave to steep for 5-10 minutes. Strain and add honey to taste. 

Have fun and experiment! Make your own flavours! This is such a fun way to put some real thought and love into a homemade Christmas gift. ❤ A little tag can be attached to show the ingredients used. 

Happy brewing!

Christmas in a Jar: Homemade Bath Salts

Christmas in a Jar: Homemade Bath Salts

Is it too early to start talking about Christmas? Maybe but I’m going to do so anyway.

This year I want to make some homemade Christmas presents. We live in such a consumerism orientated world. We have everything we need and then come Christmas we buy each other all sorts of junk that often ends up in the rubbish pile. A few years ago I bought my father in law novelty skull ice cube moulds, because of course, everyone needs those.

To do my bit to step out of this cycle of buying and throwing away, I am making my own presents. I’ve decided to write down a few and share what I am making, starting with this post: Homemade bath salts.

Homemade bath salts

Who doesn’t love a relaxing bath with deliciously scented, soothing water.

Bath salts are ridiculously easy to make and you can make them unique with your own choices of colours and scents. Since it’s Christmas I did a batch of minty candy cane salts, as well as a classic lavender.

Homemade bath salts

It’s a blend of muscle relaxing Epsom salts, cleansing salt, nourishing coconut oil and delicious scents. . Presented in a recycled jam jar, a strip of ribbon and a cute name tag. Voila! A perfect wee gift for your loved ones to enjoy.

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I’m going to be posting more homemade gifts in the next couple of days. Are you making gifts this year? If so, what are you making?

Happy crafting!

Heirloom or Hybrid Seeds?

Heirloom or Hybrid Seeds?

Heirloom seeds, hybrid seeds, what do you choose?

I don’t know about you guys, but when I first ventured into the world of vegetable gardening, I heard these two words a lot without a clue what they meant when it comes to the garden. I thought, ‘What’s the deal with sticking the label hybrid or heirloom on a plant,  a cauliflower is a cauliflower regardless of the label, right?’

Turns out there’s a bit more to it than just a fancy name!

seeds

Heirloom Seeds

An heirloom is defined as something special, of value, handed down from generation to generation. It’s the same with heirloom (or heritage as they’re also known) seeds. These seeds are from plants grown by our ancestors and passed down, each baby seedling a pretty much exact replica of the parent plant.

Heirloom seeds are open-pollinated and will produce seeds that are ‘true to type’. This means they are either self-pollinated or pollinated by a plant in the same variety to then produce offspring that are akin to their parent plant.

seeds

Hybrid Seeds

Hybrid seeds are the seeds produced by plants that have been cross-pollinated. This means the pollen from one plant has been transferred to a different plant of the same species. The produce that grows once the plant has been pollinated will be the same, but the seeds saved from that produce will not be the same as the parent plant.

A pumpkin pollinated by a zucchini will still produce a pumpkin. If you were to save the seeds of that new pumpkin however and plant those, you would end up with a zucchini/pumpkin hybrid cross. 

Hybrid seeds produced by seed companies are made very deliberately. Plants will be picked based on things like their size, disease resistance and yield and cross-pollinated to produce an elite sort of plant. As the offspring produced by that plant won’t be the same as the parent and you won’t know what you’ll get, you have to rebuy hybrid seeds each year instead of seed saving.

So what’s better, hybrid or heirloom?

Hybrids are faster, stronger and usually produce better than heirloom plants. They are however a one trick pony. You will need to rebuy them every year which puts you out of pocket and fills the pockets of the giant seed companies. Though hybrid seeds produce plants that are disease resistant and can mass produce, this is often at the expense of taste and nutrients. An heirloom tomato will often have more flavour and vitamins than a hybrid.

The act of seed saving that heirloom produce allows is more than just saving money. It’s amazing to know you are growing the exact same plant that grew hundreds of years ago. Koanga Institue in New Zealand does some amazing work with keeping NZ heirloom varieties alive. Their selection is just awesome, so many delicious varieties. Buy one packet of seeds and you can grow and save seed forever!

Want to read a cool story? A school in Canada found an 800-year-old squash a few years ago with preserved seeds! They have successfully grown a squash from these seeds and are now working on saving more seed to bring this squash variety back.

Ultimately the choice is yours but if you haven’t tried seed saving yet, I encourage you to give it a go! It’s extremely satisfying to be able to continue planting each year without the need to purchase more seed.

Happy gardening!

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