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.

Homemade Bath Salts

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups Epsom salts
  • 1 cup rock salt or 3/4 cup sea salt
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1-2 tsp of food colouring (optional)
  • 10-15 drops pure essential oil of your choice

Instructions

  1. In a metal or glass bowl, combine the Epsom salts, salt and baking soda and coconut oil. Stir well to combine.
  2. Add in the food colouring, slowly, mixing after each drop until it is your desired colour.
  3. Add in the essential oil and mix in well, taking care not to spill any pure oil on your skin.
  4. Pour into jars. I layered different colours for a visual effect.
https://homegrownhappiness.co.nz/homemade-bath-salts/

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!

5 Home Made Liquid Fertilisers Your Plants Will Love 

5 Home Made Liquid Fertilisers Your Plants Will Love 

As spring gets going, your vegetables will amp up their growth. A dose of liquid fertiliser can do wonders to ensure healthy growth. Unlike granular fertilisers, liquid fertilisers get the nutrients to your plants quickly, so you can feed them when they need it most.

When using a solid fertiliser in the garden it can be easy to add too much, which in turn can be detrimental to your plants. Too much nitrogen added to beetroot, for example, will lead to big green tops and not much root.  A liquid fertiliser, on the other hand, makes it easy to give plants the boost they need, in a controlled dose.

You don’t have to spend money to get a nutrient-packed drink for your vegetables, I bet you have what you need at home for at least one of these recipes below.

5 Liquid Fertilisers your plants will love

Manure tea, compost tea, seaweed tea… if you add the word tea at the end it almost sounds appealing….

Manure Tea

An excellent source of nitrogen. You’ll need 1 part well-aged manure and 5 parts, a large bucket (with a lid) and a sack/pillowcase.

Chicken, horse, sheep, it doesn’t really matter what manure you use for this tea as long as it is well-aged. Shovel the manure into the sack or pillow case and place in the bucket. Top with water and cover (it’s like a giant tea bag!) Let it sit for 1-2 weeks. When you’re ready to use it, dilute it to the ratio of 1:16.

You can empty the manure filled sack into your compost afterwards.

Garlic fattens up during September and October. A liquid fertiliser high in nitrogen, such as manure tea will ensure nice fat bulbs.
Compost Tea

Same ratio as above, 1 parts organic matter to 5 parts water. This time you’ll be using some homemade compost instead of manure.

Homemade compost is known as black gold in the gardening world and compost tea is the golden liquid!

In a bucket, shovel 1 part homemade compost and top with 5 parts water. Stir and let it sit for 4 days. When ready to use, strain it through some sort of cloth (e.g an old t-shirt).  Use it immediately and dilute to the ratio of 1:10.

Hungry potatoes love a drink of compost tea.
Seaweed Liquid Fertiliser

Living in New Zealand means this one is an easy one to make- there’s nearly always a beach close by! Seaweed is packed full of goodies for your plants including potassium, nitrogen, phosphate and magnesium. It also helps combat transplant shock when moving plants and seedlings.

We are sticking with the 1/5 part ratio again. Scour your local beach for the seaweed, you won’t need a huge amount. Rinse the seaweed well first to remove excess salt, then place in bucket, cover with water and let it sit. The seaweed needs to decompose for this fertiliser so you can let it sit for about 8 weeks in a dark place, away from your house. This one can get a bit stinky! Dilute to a ratio of 1:2.

Banana Peel Liquid Fertiliser(s)

Banana peel is such a treat for plants, especially roses. They’re packed with potassium, phosphorus and calcium. You can make a banana peel fertiliser in a few different ways.

  1. Banana peel tea: Soak 2-3 banana peels in 600ml water for a few days, the minerals will leach into the water and you can use the water as it is for your plants, no need to dilute. Give the soaked peels to your worms or put in the compost
  2. Banana peel smoothie: Blitz your peels up with a cup of water to make a banana peel slurry! Pour this on the base of your roses, they’ll love you for it.
  3. Banana smoothie: Spoiled, old bananas can be blitzed up too into liquid and poured around your plants. Try it in your vegetable garden!
Weedy Tea

This has to be the easiest one to source and make!

You can use all sorts of weeds from around your garden for this, especially those with tap roots such as dock. comfrey, dandelions or wild fennel. The long tap roots means the plant can absorb more nutrients which are passed into the leaves. These leaves can be put in the weed tea and all the nutrients will leach out into the water, ready to be poured back into the garden!

Stick with the 1/5 ratio (1 part weeds, 5 parts water) and fill a bucket with all your sourced weeds. Cover with water and put a lid on it. Let it steep for about two weeks. Dilute it to a ratio of 1:10 and use it anywhere in the garden! Once the weeds have decomposed in the bucket, chuck them in your compost and start again.

Photo credit: Kris Coppieters from Flickr

Happy gardening!

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