When my grandson was a toddler, I was often his babysitter so his mother could have a day out. Those were the good old days, before the entire family moved to Germany when he was 4. We often had tea parties, and since he had trouble saying my “real” name, I became Grandma Tea! Now he’s 16!!! We are both still tea lovers, so when he saw this card, he knew it was meant for me. Seeing his handwritten message meant so very much. An occasional text is nice, but a handwritten note is exponentially better!
I’m always on the lookout for new tea plants, so last fall (long before any thoughts that a pandemic might influence tea supplies or trips to tea shops) while perusing one of my favorite seed catalogs I found “Mandarin Orange” balm. It’s related to Lemon Balm, which is a favorite tea herb and easily grown. Of course I had to order the seeds. I only planted a tiny pinch of seed, and seemingly each one grew. That warns me that it could be a bold self-seeder like its lemon cousin, so I will have to remember to harvest stems while still in flower, before seeds set and drop. When the seedlings got a bit larger, each baby was transplanted into an individual compartment. Even at that small stage, their scent was delicious! Later they were been moved to harden off on the benches outside the greenhouse. In comparison to lemon balm, they seem to be a bit darker and more gray-green in color, and the leaves are a little “hairier.” Recently, they were planted in the potager’s interior border near the south gate, where it is often a bit moist after a rain. They easily survived our 24 degree night last Friday, so I’m assuming they will also be a hardy perennial (Zone 4, maybe even 3) and will prefer a sunny or very lightly shaded (in Deep South) location as lemon balm does. In any case, I’m eager for the day there are enough leaves to harvest to brew a cup of tea. In the meantime, I rub the leaves each time I pass or water, and enjoy that “Earl Grey” aroma.
Since I grew several plants in anticipation of our little garden club plant sale and the herb symposium sale, which of course were cancelled, there are more plants than I need. I’ll be happy to ship a plant to the first 4 people who respond, limited to the continental U.S. since I no longer have a license to ship abroad.