Growing Herbs: 5 Easy Plants for Diet Teas

D.R. McElroy

These herbs make tasty teas to help you stick to your plan and slim down!

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When it comes to growing herbs for tea, there are literally thousands of combinations you can make from the many herbs available. An easy way to make herbal teas is to boil desired herbs in water for several minutes, strain out the plant residue, and then use the steaming hot herb water to brew a basic cup of black, green, or red tea. It's possible to make teas solely from herbs, but the flavor is often weak unless you can boil a couple of large cups full of herbs for each cup of tea desired.

Below are 5 herb blends that can assist in your weight loss efforts. The primary herb in the blend is featured in each section.

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1. Parsley/coriander w/ lemon. Supports kidneys for better elimination of waste. Parsley (and its close cousin cilantro/coriander) is an herb with the capacity to increase urine output and volume, which helps the kidneys flush waste products and dissolved fats from the bloodstream. Drinking tea also puts more water into our bodies, which are often dehydrated from our consumption of sodium-laden processed foods and sodas. It may seem like you’re drinking a lot when you drink soda, but the excess sodium actually pulls water out of our cells — which causes us to drink more soda! It’s a vicious cycle that has long-term detrimental health effects. Parsley and cilantro are easily grown from seed or from transplants after the date of last frost. Parley prefers cooler weather and will bolt (go to seed) very quickly when it starts to get too hot in summer. Successive plantings each week will help keep the harvest coming. 

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2. Ginger/green tea w/ cinnamon. Metabolism booster. Ginger is grown for its hot and spicy root. The plant has many medicinal uses, including treating stomach ailments and motion sickness. Ginger is effective in boosting metabolism because the zingy heat of the root increases circulation (in much the same way as cayenne pepper does); increased circulation speeds up the heart, which increases metabolism. Ginger has been used in many cultures as an herbal medicine, including Chinese, Indian, and Thai. To grow your own ginger, choose a plump, fresh root from the grocery store. Don’t buy ginger from a nursery because most flowering ginger plants are strictly ornamental but we want to grow edible ginger. Plant in a pot or in moist soil outside. Water regularly, but don’t keep the soil sopping wet or the root will rot. Ginger needs warmth but also likes afternoon shade to keep the leaves from drying out. Unless you live in a tropical climate, the plant will die in the winter. For this reason, planting in pots is preferred. 

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3. Fennel/flax. Hunger control. Fennel is a bold herb with feathery leaves and a strong anise (licorice) flavor and smell. Fennel is a remedy for a number of digestive issues. It is very easy to grow, and will produce rampantly with little effort. Fennel comes in bulb and herb varieties; grow the herby-type from seeds sown directly into the ground. Choose a sunny spot (it grows great where tomatoes grow), plant in shallow trenches, and keep moderately moist. Tea is usually made from the seeds, so let the plant grow, flower, and set seed. Keep fennel away from dill or cilantro as they all love to cross-pollinate, which will affect flower/seed production and flavor. Dry the seeds, grind, and use a tablespoon or two at a time to brew a flavorful tea. It is best to boil the water separately then pour it over the seeds in a tea strainer or cup. Boiling the seeds themselves causes much of the essential oils (and therefore the nutrients and flavor) to be lost. Add a tablespoon of purchased and ground flax seeds. Allow seeds to steep 5–10 minutes, then strain. 

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4. Wheatgrass/cayenne/turmeric. Colon cleanse. Wheatgrass is nothing more than ordinary young wheat plants that are harvested before they develop grain heads. Organic unground wheat grains can be planted in shallow pots or grown hydroponically. Harvest when the plants reach about 8 inches in height. Snip into small pieces and use in a tea strainer or a muslin bag by pouring boiling water over the stems and allowing to steep 5–10 minutes. Add 1/8 teaspoon of turmeric and dried ground cayenne to taste. Wheatgrass acts as a diuretic, while cayenne and turmeric increase metabolism and decrease inflammation. By itself, turmeric is poorly absorbed in the body; cayenne or black pepper helps it be absorbed better. 

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5. Dandelion/peppermint green tea w/ lemon. Belly fat dissolving. While dandelions need no growing information (!), using them as tea is wonderful revenge on this lawn scourge. Dig the plants up, cut and wash the leaves and roots, and steep with peppermint leaves. (NOTE: DO NOT USE dandelions from your lawn if you use any kind of lawn chemicals!) Peppermint is an easily-grown herb that needs little besides water and sunshine. It will invade flower and vegetable gardens, so growing it in pots or raised beds is a good idea. Harvest fresh leaves by the handful; peppermint is helpful in the treatment of digestive problems such as gas and bloating, and helps improve digestion. It also has antiseptic and antibacterial properties. Dandelion supports liver function, which is crucial in the metabolism of fat. You can make a powder from the plants by washing and pureeing in a food processor, then dehydrating the paste. Add half a teaspoon of the powder to a cup of hot liquid. 

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D.R. McElroy is a published author, writer, and copy editor with 15 years professional experience. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Horticulture and a Masters in Environmental Resources. A conservationist, naturalist, and environmental advocate, she spends her time writing nonfiction articles on a variety of topics, as well as writing books on contract for publishers. D.R. wants to build a community of people who love nature and wildlife as much as she does, and who want to help protect our resources for public use.

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