Most herbs are fragile and have a short lifespan. This is why it is crucial to store and dry them the right way.
There are many methods for drying herbs for tea at home. But, not all methods are created equal. Also, what works for one type of herb and certain geographical conditions like the climate may not work that well for another.
The following are the proven best ways to pick, dry, and store herbs in various conditions.
How To Choose Herbs To Dry
Choosing the right parts of herbs to dry is the first step to having a high-quality tisane. This must not be overlooked.
There are herbs that are easier to dry than others due to the strength of their leaves and their oil content. Among these are bay leaves, rosemary, sage, and thyme.
Those with broad and tender leaves are more difficult to dry. They are more sensitive to moisture making them more likely to turn moldy if not properly dried. To avoid molding, these types of herbs must be dried quickly after harvesting.
When and how you gather your herbs is as important.
Harvest your herb during mid-morning, or the moment when the dew has dried but the sun has not bleached the oils in your herbs.
Cut including the branches of your herb if you decide to dry them using the air-drying method so that you will be able to tie them into bundles and hang them.
Clean your herb with water especially if you have used pesticide. Otherwise, simply drying them even without washing with water will do. If you decide to wash them, use cold water and wash them gently with a mellow shake afterward to remove excess moisture.
Methods For Drying Herbs for Tea
Air-drying herbs for tea
This is the simplest and most common method of drying herbs for tea. This is a low-cost method that basically needs only air and time.
First, cut a string around 12 to 18 inches long. Second, separate your herbs into bundles – manageable enough to be tied together neatly.
Then, tie your herbs using the string while holding the bundle together. Finally, hang your herb bundles to your chosen location. Make sure that you place them in a cool and dry place with minimal direct sunlight. Your herbs will be totally dry for two to three weeks.
Sun-drying herbs for tea
Drying herbs for tea outdoors is also possible. After harvesting the herbs, tie them into bundles. Then, hang them into a hanger. Afterward, tie a dry paper bag around the bundle. This will protect the herb from the harmful effects of direct sunlight. Remove the bundle when totally dried.
Using a dehydrator for drying herbs for tea
Using dehydrator is a convenient way of drying herbs for tea. One advantage of this method is that it can deliver consistent results. However, the cost of dehydrators ranges from $40 to $200.
- To use dehydrators, place your herbs on a tray making them compact to minimize air circulation.
- Set the temperature of dehydrator to 135˚F (57˚C)
- Then place the tray in the dehydrator. Leave until it totally dries for 12 to 24 hours. When the herbs are totally dry, unplug the dehydrator and allow it to cool for a few hours.
Finally, remove the dried herbs and place them in an airtight jar.
Using an oven for drying herbs
Ovens can also be used in drying herbs for tea. But it is advised to use this sparingly or when you have no other option. This method consumes large amounts of electricity or gas.
- To do this, set the herbs on a baking sheet. Set the oven temperature to about 135˚F (57˚C) – typically the lowest temperature available in most ovens.
- Use a thermometer to check the temperature. Place the baking sheet inside the oven, preferably in the lowest part of the oven. Maintain a temperature range of 100˚F to 145˚F. Avoid turning the temperature too hot as it may burn the herbs.
- Also, make a way to ensure air circulation. You may do this by leaving the door open.
After the herbs are dehydrated, turn off the oven and let it cool. Then get the baking sheet with the herbs and place them in an airtight container.
Using a microwave for drying herbs
This method is not my favorite method of drying herbs for tea. But this is still possible and is utilized by some.
This is a simple but risky method. All you have to do is to wrap the herbs in paper towels, place them in the microwave, and set the temperature high for a minute. Allow them to cool for 30 seconds. Then heat again for 30 seconds. Repeat this cycle until the herbs get totally dried. Be sure to check the herbs in between cycles.
How To Store Dried Herbs
Proper storage is highly important after drying herbs for tea. For sure you would not want your dried herbs to end up spoiled just because you failed to store them properly.
First, you have to make sure that they are totally dry. Even a small amount of moist may lead to spoilage and will ruin your herb. A good way to test whether your herbs are completely dry is to rub a piece of it between your fingers. A completely dried herb should be crispy enough to crumble even with just a pinch.
READ ALSO: A Complete Guide on How to Store Dried Herbs