Here's some general guidelines:
- I use water just below a boil to steep tea/herbs/fruit
- I use about 2-3 bunches of fresh herbs or 1-2 ounces of dried herbs/tea per gallon of water.
- I steep herbs or fruit generally for about 20 minutes, tasting along the way for strength.
- I steep tea any where from 3-12 minutes, depending on the tea. I like strong tea but I want to pull the leaves out before it gets bitter. If I'm using the same tea leaves multiple times the 1st steep is shorter and I'll add a couple minutes to each progressive steep (e.g. 3 minutes the 1st steep, 5 minutes the 2nd steep)
- I only use the highest quality tea and herbs I can find. Tea can get super expensive but a little goes a long way.
I recently made a lavender-mint-lemon verbena tisane for an event at Suzie's Farm (using all ingredients grown at Suzie's, of course), which was also very popular when I made it for the farmers markets. Steep the leaves only on the verbena, strip them from the stems. I think the stems are bitter. But the lavender flower and leaves give good flavor, and most other fresh herbs you can steep the whole bunch. Here's a few more I love:
- fresh chocolate mint
- white peony tea & dried orange peel
- oolong & lemongrass
- black tea with dried orange peel, fresh ginger & honey
- dried hibiscus flower (think jamaica), plain or with citrus
- virgin "sangria": hibiscus, rosehips, raspberry leaf with fresh fruit & agave.
Pour over ice and add sweetener as desired. I also love to cut lemonade with iced tea/tisane.