The herbs in the Garden of Happiness are best enjoyed daily. Inhale their delicious scent or enjoy them as a cup of tea. And if you want to be more adventurous you can make a flower water or a tincture. Lemon balm and tulsi are delicious as a tea – fresh or dried – on their own. Clary sage and St John’s wort are good as an aromatherapy massage oil.
However, our favourite, is to infuse fresh herbs in a floral bath. It’s a great way to soak in your Garden of Happiness.
To make a floral bath cut 10-15cm long bunches of the herbs, tie them in a bunch and attach to the taps. Lemon balm, lavender, tulsi make a great combination but try any blend you like. Leave the bunch of herbs to infuse whilst the bath runs. And then immerse yourself in the fragrant waters whilst the herbs to their trick.
Herbal Salt-Bath Soak
These are easy-to-make and very soothing for sore muscles and skin.
What you will need:
½-1 cup of Epsom salts
1 cup of chopped herb (fresh or dry)
5 drops of pure essential lavender oil (or another oil of your choice)
1 muslin bag and string to tie.
Pour your Epsom salts into a bowl and mix with the herbs of your choice so that all the ingredients have blended together. Then add the 5 drops of essential oil. Use a spoon and transfer the mixture into individual muslin bags and tie the tops securely.
To use, place in a running bath or hang from the tap and enjoy.
To refresh just discard the spent herbs in your compost and renew for another relaxing bath.
For skin soothing think of herbs such lavender; for relaxatio try clary sage or lemon balm; for gardener’s back, St John’s wort.
Just as selecting top quality herbs is important for a great cup of tea, so are the minute details such as the amount of herbs in each cup, the shape and size of the herbs, the infusion time, the quality of water, the water temperature, the teapot, the cup……the company.
Water for the best herbal tea should be fresh, pure, clear, odourless and low in minerals. Its also really worth thinking about where you get the energy required for boiling your water. Getting your energy from a renewable energy source is the best way for a positive cup of tea. Getting an energy efficient kettle is another way of ensuring you don’t waste energy.
It is also important to keep a lid over the herbs so their precious aromatic oils are kept in the tea.
Infuse the herbs in covered cup or teapot for 10-15 minutes, strain and drink. Some herbs may be infused or decocted for longer so read up on the specifics of each herb.
For making fresh lemon balm or tulsi tea put a 5cm sprig in a cup of freshly-boiled water and leave to infuse in a covered cup for 15 minutes, then sip and enjoy.
They are also delicious dried using 1-2tsp of the dried herb per cup.
To dry the herbs, place the whole leaves in a warm place with freely circulating air for 24 hours and when crisp, store in an airtight container.
Lavender, vervain and clary sage can also be enjoyed as a tea though their flavours are much more bitter and astringent so proceed with caution. Making a blend is always a good way to balance the extreme flavours and adding some licorice or fennel helps to sweeten a brew.
A lovely way to enjoy the amazing aromas of these herbs away from the garden is to make a freshly infused flower water that you can enjoy as face wash.
Collect a small handful of the lavender or clary sage flowers, or some lemon balm or tulsi leaves, and add to a clear glass jar, cover with water and seal with a lid. Place in the sunlight for 2-3 hours and enjoy as a refreshing wash for revitalising your skin and uplifting your spirits.
This is the same method as making a Sun Tea, so the flower water can be sipped too.
How to dry your herbs
Once you start drying your own herbs you will realise how good freshly-dried herbs can actually be. Lay them out on a rack and keep in a warm – around 35C – and well ventilated area for 12-24 hours, or until crisp and dry. All the herbs in the Garden of Happiness are delicate and must be handled especially carefully. Pick individual flowers and leaves and place neatly on your drying rack until dry. A dehydrator may be best for more predictable results and store in an airtight container.
Always read the specific information on each individual herb to find out how to use them properly.