• August 27, 2014

Library hosts tea-tasting, teaching time

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Posted: Sunday, June 29, 2014 4:30 am

HARKER HEIGHTS — The fragrant aroma of rosemary, mint, holy basil and other herbs wafted through the air Saturday at the Stewart C. Meyer Harker Heights Library.

Twin sisters Kathe Kitchens and Kim Berg hosted a tea-tasting session and spoke about the therapeutic values of herbs in teas.

Copperas Cove resident Crystal Crowder, 29, said she bought herbs from the sisters at an area farmers market last year and was surprised to try holy basil and lemon balm in tea.

“The combination of that is awesome, and I’m here to learn more,” Crowder said. “They’ll tell you everything to do with herbs, and they have not steered me wrong yet.”

Karen Colwick, 66, of Belton, met the sisters Saturday at a farmers market and learned about the class at the library.

Colwick has gone through the Master Gardeners program and is looking for individuals who can host workshops at the state’s Master Gardener Conference next year in Belton.

“I’ve grown herbs, but haven’t had the time to use them except maybe in cooking,” Colwick said.

Heather Pantalone, 40, of Killeen, and her daughter, Madison Pantalone, 10, said they attended while her son participated in another library event.

Madison said she likes Bengal spice tea, while Heather Pantalone prefers exotic teas.

“Madison and I are very into herbs and gardening and essential oils,” Heather Pantalone said.

All participants were invited to select a green herbal leaf and crush it into a cup, before warm water was poured over it and the tea steeped, or sat covered for 10 minutes.

Kitchens said the water needed little to no steam because the herbs’ oils evaporate into the air if the water is too hot. Steeping allows the oils to release into the water, enhancing the teas’ effectiveness.

The tea tasters surveyed a mixture of earthy scented roots, seapod, abalone shell, sea vegetables and bark.

Berg said the combination is a decoction, made of tougher plant materials, which take longer to prepare in an herbal tea.

In discussing the teas’ effectiveness, Kitchens said thyme and oregano are good for the sinuses or headaches; rosemary promotes clear thinking; and sage is good for balancing hormones.

Kitchens said researching the herbs’ medicinal values to make tisane, or herbal tea, is important.

“Lemon basil tastes like lemon balm, but doesn’t have the same value if you want to sleep,” she said. “Chamomile is a natural blood thinner.”

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