05/14/2012 10:10 am ET

Homegrown Herbal Teas: Chamomile, Lavender, Clover And Other Custom Brews

From Networx's Sayward Rebhal:

Chamomile has always my favorite bedtime beverage. Growing up, we just bought the supermarket boxes of bagged tea. And although I enjoyed the pretty white flowers on the packaging, I never really considered the connection between the decorative exterior and the drink inside.

Flash forward a decade or so and I was working my way through college slinging coffee at a small art house. That’s where I discovered the joy of loose leaf teas. I remember the first time I opened the chamomile canister, and poured out a pile of ... dried flowers! It seems silly now, but it was such a surprise to me. “Of course! Chamomile is a flower!”

Flash forward yet another decade, and these days I’m planting my own pretty white chamomile patch in my own little garden, harvesting and drying the buds, and brewing my own homegrown tea. And it is, unquestionably, the best tea I’ve ever tasted.

The great news is that chamomile is just the tip of the tea-stained iceberg. There are so many ways to collect your own herbal teas, whether you’re carefully cultivating a tea garden, or simply taking advantage while weeding your lawn. Maybe you know of a berry bush in a nearby park. Maybe there’s a patch of clover around the corner. Maybe you had a local carpenter build you a deck and you're looking forward to relaxing there with a good cup of tea. Or you want to take a fresh cup of earthy herbal tea with you on your commute through New York City's tile and concrete subway jungle. Once you’re onto it, it’s hard not to have fresh herbal tea almost everywhere. Here are my top six picks.

List and captions courtesy of Networx

Free Tea: Growing Your Own Herbal Brew