Herbs Growing Strong in Early Spring

This spring has really got the herbs growing strong. Good temperatures and rain at the right times has helped them reach new heights. We’ve been surprised at just how quickly a few herbs had grown this early Spring.

The fast-growing herbs were the biennial parsley and perennial tarragon and catnip. These particular herbs were growing right next to the house, within five feet of the stone structure that faces south. The stone walls collect heat as the sun shines during the day. At night they release this stored energy and that boosted the growth of these herbaceous plants. On the side of the herb bed opposite the house is a flagstone walkway, so those large flat stones also hold and release heat that benefits plant growth.

Parsley that was planted last year overwintered and started re-growing early. These flat-leaf parsley plants reached about three feet tall and started putting energy into making their seed heads. Each plant was pulled up, roots and all. Dirt was shaken from the roots and the plants were hung upside down to dry.

Harvested early herbs included Russian tarragon, catnip and flat-leaf parsley.
Harvested early herbs included Russian tarragon, catnip and flat-leaf parsley. These herbs reached a height of two to three feet. Photo taken 11 May 2012.

Catnip was treated the same way, so the entire plant was pulled up and hung to dry. We know there are mother roots that have been established under the flagstone walkway, so the catnip plants that were pulled up will be replaced by others.

The tarragon was pulled up by the roots like the other herbs that were harvested, but instead the Russian tarragon was put in the compost pile. We’ve used it in a few dishes and never appreciated any flavor from the Russian variety. Right next to that we have a French tarragon plant. I only wish that the French tarragon would have grown so well. It’s such a scraggly little plant compared to the Russian one. Perhaps with the large plants out of the area, the French tarragon will now take off. It has such a pleasing scent and anise-like flavor.

May 11 has to be the earliest that we’ve harvested this amount of herbs. Soon, we’ll have to harvest some thyme, mints and oregano so that we get the most flavorful herbs before they go to seed.

New Licorice Root and Ginseng Herbal Tea

Went grocery shopping just the other day and looked for the licorice root and ginseng herbal tea that I liked so much. I was delighted to find out that Celestial Seasonings still makes this “Tension Tamer” herbal tea. I was attracted to the smell of this tea, even though what I had was an admittedly old box of tea.

The packaging has been updated to emphasize that this herbal tea is 100% natural, an herbal tea, and caffeine free. All good selling points.

Celestial Seasonings Tension Tamer Herbal Tea
Celestial Seasonings Tension Tamer Herbal Tea

The old box design (© 1991) proudly displayed that two B vitamins were added, whereas the new box (© 2008) relegates that information to a side of the box in the Nutrition Facts panel. In one teabag there is enough vitamin B6 and B12 to supply 20% of the recommended daily amount. Be mindful that the amount present in one teabag might not equal the amount in a cup of tea. I wonder if the tea drinkers who like their tea on the weak side will be getting as much of the added B vitamins as the strong tea drinkers?

If the addition of B vitamins was a (weak?) selling point and if it doesn’t change the taste of the tea if not added, then why is it added? I also wonder if Celestial Seasonings studied how long you have to soak your one teabag to get all the vitamins they claim on the Nutrition Facts panel. By putting a value on this Food and Drug Administration required panel the intention is to show consumers what and how much of what they are consuming. We have no way of knowing how much vitamin B will be consumed by drinking of cup of tea. Don’t bank on this tea for providing your daily intake of B vitamins. Eat something multi-grain!

The ingredients appear to be about the same as before. A few ingredient names are slightly changed, like eleuthero ginseng root has become eleuthero, and peppermint leaves has become peppermint. The order of the contents is the same, which means that these ingredients are in the same relative quantities as before. Doesn’t seem like the tea blend has been changed, except to not specify whether it is the root or leaves used for most ingredients.

Ingredients of Tension Tamer Herbal Tea
Ingredients of Tension Tamer Herbal Tea
  • eleuthero
  • peppermint
  • cinnamon
  • ginger
  • chamomile
  • West Indian lemongrass
  • licorice
  • catnip
  • tilia flowers
  • natural lemon flavor with other natural flavors (contains soy lecithin)
  • hops
  • Vitamins B6 and B12

I could smell the tea right after taking off the clear plastic wrap. Opening the cardboard box showed a heat-sealed inner liner made of waxed- or parchment-type paper to hold the teabags. The tea smelled like American pennyroyal, a menthol-smelling cousin of the mints. Opening the bag brought out an even stronger minty smell.

Tension Tamer’s taste is like before, only with a stronger flavor and more tones of mint. On steeping the tea you could smell mint at first and then pick up the citrus overtones. Tasting it after a 4-6 minute steep and removing the bag – as the directions suggest – gave a minty lemon taste, very pleasing to the tongue and not too bitter, balanced with sweetness and finished off with slight licorice tones. Feels clean in my mouth!

I’ve always liked lemon and citrus flavors and licorice, so I found Tension Tamers herbal tea a refreshing cup.

I didn’t really taste the ginger to say Hey, there’s ginger in there, but I’ll bet that your taste buds will come to attention with this tea. There is a little snap to it! No need for sugar or honey, in my opinion.

Might be nice to use a bag or two of Tension Tamers tea in a glass jug for sun tea. I’d mix a black or green tea with it to give that a sweet lemony touch.

I do love a company who takes on the view of a world in harmony. I get that feeling from Celestial Seasonings. The bottom of the tea box emphasizes that the company is environmentally aware by using recycled paperboard in their packaging and by supporting sustainable harvesting in many countries. Makes sense to do that last part – if your commodity is grown halfway around the world and you rely on long-distance transport to receive your product – you better help take care of the people harvesting your product in the first place, right? Ethical trade, Rock On!

Our local Giant Food Store sold the 20-bag box for $2.29, but you can buy Tension Tamer herbal tea directly from Celestial Seasonings for $2.99. Enjoy!

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