Friday, 6 November 2015

A Coffee Alternative

I love good coffee - perhaps a little too much, so I am trying to find some tasty and healthy alternatives using freshly harvested leaves from my permaculture garden. 

Tulsi is a great base for the tea but on it's own, the flavour can be a bit overwhelming, so I like to blend it. I concoct different brews depending on what jumps out at me in the garden and spice rack.

The tea I made today included tulsi, lemongrass, lemon myrtle, coriander seeds, honey, cinnamon, and ginger.  The only thing not local was the cinnamon! 


My tulsi tea ingredients

The tea was absolutely delicious. Even the kids give this tea the thumbs up. When my 7 year old 'food critic' son says something is good, I know I am onto a good thing.


My blended Tulsi Tea

Tulsi is also known as sacred basil and is a revered plant in India where it has been used for over 3000 years. It is said to have many healing qualities and is used particularly in ayurvedic medicine for colds, breathing, stress and digestion. As a tea it is known to have uplifting effects, which is why it is good as an alternative to coffee.

You can buy Tulsi tea, but I think freshly picked herb teas are so much more flavoursome and have so much more vitality. They are also much cheaper.  

Tulsi growing under our Mandarin tree 
Lemongrass
Today’s herb tea ingredients:
  • 2 cups water
  • a small handful of chopped tulsi leaf
  • a small clutch of of lemongrass leaves chopped
  • 2 lemon myrtle leaves 
  • a tsp fresh ginger root 
  • a tsp of coriander seeds
  • a tsp cinnamon
  • a tbsp raw honey
Chop herbs roughly

Directions:

To make this tea, I chopped up the herbs and ginger roughly, added the cinnamon and coriander seeds and simmered in a pot for about 5 minutes. I stirred the honey in at the end to help to preserve its raw qualities. It is delicious as a hot cuppa, but it can also be served iced.
Add coriander and water
My trimmed Lemon Myrtle tree in the herb garden

Tulsi: the plant

I have Tulsi (Sacred Basil) planted in many places around the garden - particularly as an understory plant around my dwarf citrus as a bee attractor.  It is bigger than sweet basil so I keep it out of the salad garden. In the Indian tradition, they grow it in a pot near the front door.

It is a very hardy, drought tolerant and versatile plant that can be grown in most mild climates around the world. 

I always take cuttings to new community gardens I work with.  I must have given out thousands of cuttings from my plants at talks and workshops over the past couple of years.

Permaculture design always encourages you to have the things you need or use the most closest. I have tulsi, comfrey, lemon myrtle, aloe vera, salad greens and herbs in the gardens closest to my verandah entrance.

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