Okay, for any of you who think you might get a holiday gift from me in the next few weeks and don’t like ruined surprises, stop reading now!
For the rest of you who want to know what’s in those darling boxes, click the link below for a great homemade gift idea.
It begins with this mix of herbs that I gathered from the farm and dried earlier this fall. I took an educated guess as to the proper blend and created my own Lavender Yarrow Hyssop Tea. The rough ratio, for your reference, was 3 parts yarrow leaves, 2 parts hyssop leaves, and 1 part lavender leaves. Usually their flowers are used to make tea, but I was gathering mine too late in the fall so there weren’t many buds to be had. I don’t think the tea suffered for it.
The resulting infusion is meant to sooth anytime and to restore good health if you’re fighting a cold. The flavor of this tea straight up is fairly intense, bordering on medicinal, but quickly tames with the addition of honey or other sweeteners, at which point it tastes very much like chamomile. It produces a similar lovely golden color as well.
It took me awhile to find them, but I finally got my hands on some all-natural, biodegradable self-fill tea bags from this great tea store, Steep, on 18th Street in Philadelphia. I bought the large ones since I was initially planning to sell this infusion as a bath soaking tea (yep, draw a hot bath and steep yourself with the tea bag) at the last day of the farm’s stand at the Headhouse Market. See, before I actually made the tea and tasted it, I was worried about how medicinal these three herbs might be together. These three herbs were the only viable tea herbs we had at the farm this year so I had to get creative. All this brainstorming was before I actually tasted it and found it to be really lovely. So I sold a few bags at the market as a bath soak and kept the rest to toy with at home. The recipients of these gift boxes will be given instructions for how to use it both as a bath and as a beverage.
I know what you’re thinking. “This is a lovely idea, Jennie, but we don’t all have access to a field full of herbs.” True. But you might have some herbs growing in pots around your home or you can probably find some still at your local farmers market. You could even forage for yarrow, which grows as a weed in many places. If you still don’t have any herbs to use this year, think about growing some next summer specifically for making tea. One very important thing to remember when gathering herbs for tea: don’t use anything that has been sprayed with chemicals. Otherwise, just get creative with whatever you can find. I’ll be offering a lot more herbal tea instructions next year when I’ll be growing more varieties of herbs at the farm and on my own.
Now let’s talk about packaging your product. I’m a marketing professional by trade. I know the value of putting the right look on something. You can sell an Eskimo ice if you make it look new and appealing. For my tea, I wanted an unusual box (thank you Target wedding favor section) and decorations that were subdued but still whimsical.
The dark burgundy ribbon alluded to the holiday season at hand. The bee, cut from a larger swath of ribbon, alluded to the herbal elements within. It was a perfect match to what I wanted. But this is just one example of how you can present homemade tea bags. Only one rule to follow: before placing in the final packaging, place the tea in a sealed plastic bag or wrapped tightly with plastic wrap from the kitchen to keep it from going stale. Place a little card with the tea box, instructing recipients to brew ¼ teaspoon of tea per cup of boiling water for five minutes. Sweeten with honey. To use as a bath soak, fill bath tub with a few inches of the hottest water you can get from the tap. Steep tea bag in tub for 5 minutes before filling tub the rest of the way with water at your desired temperature. Get in and enjoy the relaxing aromas and the way your skin smells afterwards.