A few years back, Brett got me a sampling of loose leaf teas from adiago. This collection of teas was selected/inspired by the guys at Digg, and even came with a super cool tea maker for loose leaf teas. While it turns out neither of us were too fond of the teas themselves (a bit too funky for us?), I LOOOVE the tea maker gadget - the ingenuiTEA!
Now I have to admit I haven't actually used the pot in awhile...primarily because I hadn't been drinking many loose leaf teas. Most of the stuff I drink is already in a tea bag, except for the occasional cup of tea I make from the good stuff Mary clued me in on. While I'm not a fan of lemongrass in savory dishes (typically Thai food), I've found I LOVE it in this combination for a nice, warm cup of tea: lemongrass, lemon verbena and lemon thyme (or lime thyme, or heck, orange thyme).
Thyme in tea? Sure! Don't ask me why, but it works!
And lemon verbena is one I kept having problems with - I was always confusing it with lemonbalm. Maybe that would work well in this tea?
So I had no problems getting lemon thyme (I really like the variegated golden lemon thyme), but it took some hunting to find the lemon verbena and lemongrass this past year. Luckily Mary was also able to hook me up with small plants since she's a member of an herb society, and it sounds like she'll be able to do the same again this year.
So after I let all my herbs do their thing and grow in the new herb bed this past year, I collected a bunch of them at the end of fall, cutting the plants down to the ground and tying each type of herb into it's own separate bundle (well, all the thyme just got rested out on a sheet pan). The herbs were then all stored near the furnace in the basement, where I figured there'd be just enough heat and air flow to dry them out.
Now when I want a nice cup of lemony tea, I run down to the basement with my scissors, snip off a handful of herbs, shove them in the ingenuiTEA which I've just pulled from the microwave, with it's hot, steamy water:
Once the leaves have steeped long enough, I just put the pot on top of my mug, and the tea is released into the mug without bringing any loose leaves with it. Here's a video showing how it works... With large herbs such as these, there's less risk of the leaves getting into the mug, but even the smaller leaves that come in loose leaf teas are strained out. Then you just dump the sopping wet leaves into bucket to go out to the compost later, and enjoy the tea!
Mom tried this once when they were visiting, and really liked the tea. I sent her back with some of the herbs to make her own once they got home, and I guess she made a big batch and stuck it in the fridge. Andy and Kelli saw it and had a good laugh - I guess it looked like mom had someone's urine specimen in the fridge. ...So I'm guessing they didn't drink any! ;-)