There’s a plant for that!

While I was digging deeper into the healing properties of plants, I learned how much herbal help is available to sooth everyday discomforts. Of particular interest to me were herbs and flowers with the reputation of calming frazzled nerves and promoting a good night’s sleep. Over time, I came up with my personal blend of homegrown Peace Tea.

I’d like to share my favourite plant discoveries with you because this just might be the year you consider creating your own peace tea garden. On a small bit of sunny land it is easy to grow a delightful tea garden that can support your physical, mental and emotional health. What’s more, this beautiful patch of colour and foliage will bring you joy and satisfaction every time you see it. Pollinators will thrive there too.

A garden area of about 3′ x 6′ is easily big enough to grow and harvest a year’s worth of peace tea. If you don’t have that much space to spare, you could try growing plants such as lavender and spearmint in containers. My selections all thrive in the Pacific Northwest, and most other zones too. Since these tea garden plants are either perennial or self sowing, after creating the garden there isn’t much more to do but harvest, keep the weeds in check, and enjoy.

chamomile and bees

Keep in Mind

The value of medicinal plants is traditional knowledge and well understood among herbalists and enthusiasts. Although these plants are beneficial, there is always a small chance of an adverse reaction. I have two people in my own family who are part of the miniscule minority of folks who do not do well with some common flowers such as chamomile and lavender. Be sure to start small and use any new botanical cautiously until you are sure that you and the plant you’re getting to know are compatible. And always do more research!
       This feels a bit like telling people to beware of tomatoes, but yes, there are folks who can’t tolerate those either.

Harvest and Dry

Gather from your tea plants throughout the growing season. Young leaves have a milder flavour than more mature leaves. Flowers are best picked just before they reach full bloom. Harvest on sunny days after the dew has dried.

Rinse and spin your harvest in a salad spinner then spread out to dry in a single layer on a tea towel. A few days later, check for crispness. Leaves will crumble easily. Dried flowers might feel flexible but will fall apart when you rub them between your fingers. Don’t rush the drying process because any moisture left in the herbs can be enough to cause a whole jarful to mould. Alternatively, use a dehydrator set at 105°F, in which case most of your plants will be dry in eight to twenty-four hours. Store in glass jars.

Peace Tea Blend

You can coarsely crumble and mix the ingredients together as you finish drying them if you’re making only a small amount of tea blend. There is no hard and fast formula. Eventually you will learn what combinations and ratios you prefer. One good idea is to make a cup of tea from each individual plant so you know how it tastes, then let this guide your blending. Use less or more of each flavour as your preference dictates. This is also a good way to test for and isolate any sensitivities you may have.

For years I stored each type of dried herb or flower in a separate glass jar. It wasn’t a bad idea because sometimes I need a certain herb on its own. But now that I have a good notion of my preferred blend, I store everything together, adding to it throughout the season. You might call it a perpetual tea!

Dried Tea Flowers Jar

I eyeball the mixture, but in case you’d like a rough guide to proportions, something like this gives me a blend I like:
        – Larger amounts of: California poppy flowers and leaves, calendula flowers
        – Medium amounts of: chamomile flowers, lemon balm leaves and sprigs, bergamot flowers
        – Smaller amounts of: skullcap sprigs, lavender flowers, spearmint leaves

Rub the dried ingredients between your fingers into similar size pieces so that you can spoon your blend easily.

Peace tea is best taken in the early evening for a better night’s sleep, but you can drink it any time. Measure half a tablespoonful per person of dry blend into your pot. Pour in boiled filtered water, cover, and let it steep for twenty minutes or longer. Sweeten to taste if desired with stevia or honey.

My Peace Tea Plants

Calendula officinalis 
Calenda is worth growing even if all you ever do is look at its cheery golden flowers. It is a sturdy annual that self sows easily — just leave one or two flowers on the stem to go to seed.

The health benefits of calendula are worth studying. I often see calendula listed as an ingredient in commercial natural skin care and oral care products. Although it’s not a make-you-sleepy herb, taken internally it helps relax muscles and relieve associated pain. It is known to sooth the digestive tract and interior mucous membranes. It has anti-inflammatory properties too, all of which could help your body feel more comfortable while you’re trying to get a good night’s sleep.

Possibly the most spectacular way to celebrate calendula is to sprinkle the golden petals as a garnish over your food. While you’re sipping your tea, of course.

Calendula flowers

Eschscholzia californica

California poppy, as well as being beautiful, is a becalmer of anxiety, irritability and overwrought feelings. It is particularly effective against pains that gets in the way of sleep. For our understanding of California poppy’s benefits, we are indebted to traditional knowledge of the west coast indigenous people.

Dr. Tierona Low Dog states: “California poppy is a member of the poppy family but, unlike its cousin the opium poppy, it is not addictive or dangerous. California poppy is particularly beneficial for those who have sleep problems due to minor aches and pains. It’s my go-to herb for people who are stressed, depressed, and struggling with pain-related sleep issues.” … “I’ve used this herb for decades and find it to be highly reliable for folks who have difficulty sleeping due to aches, pains, or worry (or all of the above).

Harvest and dry the tender, lacy leaves as well as the flowers for peace tea. This plant is an annual so let some flowers go to seed for next year’s crop.

California poppies

German Chamomile Matricaria recutita
Roman Chamomile Chamaemelum nobile

Once I bought a packet of chamomile seeds. I’ve never needed to buy another. Chamomile will happily come back to you year after year. And it loves to be harvested. The flower is the part of the plant you want to gather for tea.

Mild, calming chamomile helps sooth insomnia and anxiety. It is a nervine, gently relaxing nervousness and tension. It also is a digestive aid and a mild pain reliever. No wonder it has been used as a healing herb around the world for centuries. I think my favourite mention in literature (ahem) might when Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit gets home from his frightening escapade in Mr. McGregor’s garden. He feels poorly all evening so his mother gives him chamomile tea and puts him to bed.

Learn much more: Relieves Anxiety and Lifts Mood, and Chamomile Benefits


Lavandula angustifolia
Popular lavender is the classic flower for a sweet night’s sleep. It is a perennial also well loved by gardeners for its soft green-grey foliage and myriad of small purple flower spikes. Did I mention cooks love it too?

The scent of lavender is uplifting, and is beneficial in soothing anxiety and depression. Lavender calms without sedating. It helps stabilize mood and promotes relaxation leading to a deeper, less disturbed sleep. It also can help ease the pain of headaches, particularly those brought on by stress.

Every time I pass by lavender in bloom, I gently run my hands over the flowers, then breath deeply of their calming scent. This is what a garden is meant to be.


Melissa officinalis
This perennial of the mint family has velvety leaves and a gentle lemony scent. I pick the young sprigs – this makes the plant grow bushier. As the season progresses, you can begin to harvest just the large leaves. Prune back as needed. You could rub the prunings on your skin to keep mosquitoes away since the oil is a natural insect repellent.

One year I bought a lemon balm bedding plant so I could learn to recognize it. That’s when I realized it was already growing all over the garden. Let one stalk go to seed and you’ll never need to buy again. But since it is a perennial, if you cut off the flowers before seeds form it will still come back.

Lemon balm has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. It can reduce anxiety and improve mood, concentration and sleep quality. Lemon balm tea is mild, and is considered safe and effective for children.
This article is quite informative: lemon balm

Lemon Balm Melissa officinalis

Monarda didyma
Also known as Scarlet Beebalm or Oswego tea, the perennial bergamot is a member of the mint family. It produces gorgeous flowers you can harvest and dry. Your tea blend will look spectacular. (Sprinkle some fresh petals into your salad and it will look spectacular too.) The leaves also can be dried for tea; their flavour is stronger so use them sparingly until you find the balance you like.

I had been enjoying my peace tea blend for quite some time before I researched and added bergamot flowers. The taste went from pleasant to fabulous. As soon as I finished a cup, I wanted more.

Bergamot is considered a nervine tonic in that it sooths the nervous system and helps calm stress and anxiety. It has a deep, thyme-like flavour and antiseptic qualities. It sooths the respiratory system, so would be a great addition to this tea too: Fighting Colds with Thyme Tea.

Scarlet Bee Balm monarda didyma

Scutellaria lateriflora
Skullcap is another perennial and member of the mint family. Its the only plant in my peace tea garden that was a little challenging to find and grow. I ordered my seeds from Strictly Medicinals in Oregon; it took me a couple of years to get a successful plant. I have it in a terracotta pot in the ground, first because of the reputation of the mint family for spreading, and secondly because, since it was unfamiliar, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to tell the seedling skullcap from the weeds. Now I have two pots in the garden and two that I overwintered in the house, so I think I’m safely on my way to a reliable supply.

I first heard of skullcap when I was listening to a documentary on natural sleep remedies. The presenter described it as the best herb for calming “monkey brain.” Traditionally, skullcap is used as a natural remedy for anxiety and depression and is loved for its soothing effect on muscle tension, worried minds, and frayed nerves.

Skullcap Scutellaria lateriflora

Mentha spicata
Spearmint and peppermint are two well known flavours from the mint family. Peppermint, a natural hybrid of spearmint and watermint, is often used for pain relief due to its high menthol content. Spearmint is sweeter and less peppery. Anyone who has researched essential oils meets either of these two mints as a core part of an oil collection because of their many benefits. Spearmint is traditionally used to treat insomnia and stress. It reduces anxiety, encourages relaxation, and has a calming effect. It also tastes delightful.

In the garden, unless you have plenty of space, spearmint is best confined to a container of some kind to keep its spreading under control. That isn’t a reason to avoid growing it. Spearmint has so many uses. It is brilliant as a tea on its own, and is a delicious addition to smoothies. Try adding it to an English tea latte. Sublime.

Further research here: spearmint

spearmint plants

Research Resources

For extensive, well documented information on the beneficial properties of plants, I have two reliable go-to experts that I always visit first. Dr. Josh Axe is a functional doctor with much experience and success in using natural methods of healing. Dr. Tierena Low Dog is a medical doctor who is extremely knowledgeable about traditional and indigenous use of plants to support health.

Enjoy Your Tea

This article about my peace tea blend has been simmering for a few years. I’m so pleased finally to share it with you. Growing, harvesting and using these beneficial tea plants has given me hours of joy. They feel like dear companions. Hopefully you’ll be able to become acquainted with at least a few of them this summer.

Peace and wellbeing, my friends!