Arcadia Farms

  (Portage, Michigan)
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Love Potion #10 Tea

diy valentine tea

Ok. Not really. It’s not a potion. No magic here. Just a yummy cup of tea that happens to be full of herbs known for their aphrodisiac qualities. It’s a sweet and simple handmade gift your tea lover will love on Valentine’s Day. If you’re an herb connoisseur you probably have everything you need on hand already. Otherwise, a quick run to the health food or grocery store will provide what you need, including:

  • Round Coffee Filters
  • Bakers Twine
  • Stapler and Staples
  • Stinging Nettle
  • Rose Petals
  • Lavender
  • Oat Straw
  • Whole Cloves
  • Lindon
  • Ginseng

First, create the tea mixture in a small bowl by stirring together all of the dried herbs. The mixture makes 3-4 tea bags. Here’s the recipe:

  • 3 tsp Stinging Nettle
  • 3 tsp Rose Petals
  • 1 tsp Oat Straw
  • 1 tsp Whole Cloves
  • 1.5 tsp Lavender
  • Pinch Ginseng
  • Pinch Lindon

diy valentine day tea


Click here for the complete tutorial and more photos!


DIY Advent Tea Set

Last summer I shared with you that I love tea. I grew up drinking at least a cup a day, guided by my mother who throws down a pot or so in the same time frame. One of the things I treasure most about get togethers with my mom, brother and sister-in-law is enjoying a pot (or two) of tea together, especially since I’m usually the only one in our little nuclear family who gets excited about brewing a cup.

Since my relatives enjoy tea so much I decided last year to make them handmade herbal tea bags. I found some recipes online and used this tutorial as a guide to creating my own tea bags. It was a super cute idea (and I was super excited about it!) but alas, I completely underestimated how much time it would take. The bags weren’t nearly as pretty as I wanted them to be. And I cut my time so close to Christmas that I didn’t really have time to taste-test and adjust my recipes. Ultimately some of the bags turned out well but most of them were forgettable (if not bad).

Such a bummer…

So I promised myself that I’d try again this year – and that I’d start much, much sooner. So the week of Thanksgiving I paid a visit to our local health food store and picked up a couple dozen bags of various herbs and spices. Ever since I’ve been experimenting with and adjusting herbal tea recipes. My goal was to develop at least a dozen unique flavors. I didn’t quite make it there, but I’m really pleased with the six recipes that are ready.

Something Beautiful

diy handmade advent tea setI know that sometimes we make homemade gifts because they’re inexpensive, quick or simple to make. (And there’s nothing wrong with that.) Although they hold potential for the exact opposite, I feel like sometimes today’s homemade gifts are a little impersonal. I really wanted these teas to be the antithesis to all of these things, both to make them a sweet gift and simply for the joy of creating something beautiful.

That’s how I stumbled into the idea of making an advent tea set. I wanted to make something pretty to look at, meaningful and enjoyable to use. I guess I won’t know for sure if I hit the mark until my not-to-be-mentioned-till-they-receive-this relative provides a review. Meanwhile, I’m excited to share the results with you.

I’ve included all of the information and printouts you need to make an advent tea set for the tea lover on your Christmas list. Here’s how it works: Every day has a handmade tea bag. The tea bags are stored in a pre-made container. I wanted to use a Christmas tin but none of the stores I visited had quite what I was looking for. Instead I settled for this super cute box from the holiday section of Wal-Mart. (If you hurry you might be able to buy the same one!)

bakers twine for diy handmade tea bagsEach day’s tea bag has a tag with the date on it. Each bag is also preceeded by a divider card. The divider has the date on the face and a Christmas-oriented scripture on the backside. The idea is that every December morning before work (or perhaps every evening as you unwind) the recipient can read and reflect on an inspirational card while enjoying a cup of tea. There are 25 cards (and 25 tea bags) to last you all the way until Christmas Day. The divider cards are printed on heavy-duty photo paper and should be sturdy enough to last for several years. That means next year I’ll be able to supply a stash of 25 handmade teas to be ready for the following Advent season.

A few more details… the tea tags are attached to bakers twine because it comes in pretty colors but won’t leach color into hot tea. I bought some Christmas-y twine in the dollar section of Target and found even more colorful varieties in the party section (near the plates and cups). The bags themselves are made from regular (cheap!) coffee filters. My sewing machine broke down just as I was beginning to sew these so I had to improvise. I ended up figuring out a no-sew folding technique that looks just as cute and actually saved me a ton of time. I’m excited that anyone – even crafty folks with no sewing machine – can make these.

Advent Tea Set Tutorial

Supplies & Equipment Needed

  • 25 coffee filters
  • bakers twine
  • 9 sheets of photo paper
  • 3 sheets of cardstock
  • scissors
  • assorted herbs and spices (click here for recipes which list amounts for a single serving)
  • measuring spoons
  • stapler
  • mono-adhesive
  • craft glue
  • tea container (mine came from the holiday section at Wal-Mart)
  • Tea Dividers printout (click here to download)
  • Tea Tags printout (click here to download)

Make the Tea Bags

1. Cut a piece of bakers twine into a 6? length.

2. Fold a coffee filter in half.

diy handmade advent tea set

3. Fold the filter in half again. Reopen to previous half-fold position.

diy handmade advent tea set

diy handmade advent tea set

3. Fold each side into the center line created by step 2.

diy handmade advent tea set

4. Fold each side in again to meet the center line.

diy handmade advent tea set

diy handmade advent tea set

5. Staple the bottom of the bag to help it retain it’s form.

diy handmade advent tea set

6. Mix a single-serving of the tea recipe in a small container.

7. Use your fingers to pry the opening of the bag open as wide as possible without completely unfolding it.

diy handmade advent tea set

8. Transfer the mixed herbs into the bag. Using a 1/2 teaspoon may help.

diy handmade advent tea set

9. Carefully tap or shake the bag down so that the tea is compacted to the bottom. This will make it easier to close the top. You can later disperse the tea more evenly throughout the bag.

diy handmade advent tea set

10. Laying the bag flat on a hard surface, fold down the top-right corner of the bag.

diy handmade advent tea set

11. Place the bakers twine onto the bag and fold the top-left corner down over it. This will create a point at the top of the bag.

diy handmade advent tea set

diy handmade advent tea set

12. Fold the point down toward the bottom of the bag being careful to keep the twine secure under the flaps. Fold the twine up straight across the point (now pointing down) and up past the top of the bag. Secure both the top of the bag and the twine by stapling across it.

diy handmade advent tea set

13. Create tea tags by cutting out two of each number. Place one tag face down and add a few small dots of glue to the center and the corners. Place the top end of the twine on the center glue dot then cover the entire thing with the second tag (face up).

diy handmade advent tea set

diy handmade advent tea set


diy handmade advent tea set

Make the Divider Cards

1. Print the Tea Dividers, preferably on photo paper or card stock.

2. Cut each divider along the dashed line (top, bottom and sides) and fold along the dotted line. Once folded, the number should be on one side and the scripture should be on the back.

diy handmade advent tea set

diy handmade advent tea set

3. Line the three open sides of the divider with mono adhesive and press it together.

diy handmade advent tea set

4. Repeat for all divider cards. For Christmas Day (Day 25) there are three options to choose from.

diy handmade advent tea set

Assemble the Advent Tea Set

1. Place the #25 tea bag in the bottom of the container.

diy handmade advent tea set

2. Place the #25 divider card over the #25 tea bag.

diy handmade advent tea set

3. Place the #24 tea bag on top of the #25 divider, followed by the #24 divider.

diy handmade advent tea set

diy handmade advent tea set

4. Repeat this process until all tea bags and dividers have been added.

diy handmade advent tea set

5. If you haven’t already, print the Advent Tea Recipes card. Cut it to fit into the container. Slide the card inside the container flush with the back side (behind the tea bags and dividers).

Print the Advent Tea Recipes card. Cut it to fit into the container. Place the card inside the container flush with the back side.

6. Close. Give. Smile.

I really enjoyed making this, and I can’t wait to give it!

diy handmade advent tea set diy handmade advent tea set diy handmade advent tea set diy handmade advent tea set

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Planting Herbs in Upcycled Tin Cans

This winter I shared with you that I want a beautiful, traditionally styled, super-sized tea garden full of straight-up tea plant (Camellia sinensis) hedges and oodles of herbs. Despite my grandest dreams, our micro-farm only has room for a micro tea garden. So instead of having something like this…

formal garden

{Image Credit}

I’m going to have something like this…

tin can herbs

{Image Credit}

I’ll be growing herbs for tea in upcycled tin cans which will hang from the posts of our garden fence. I’m also hoping to add some herb containers closer to the house. This weekend I got started on planting my first herbs – stevia.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with stevia, it is a natural sweetening alternative to cane sugar. I’m going to use the leaves in tea but you can also use it in powder form for baking. (Personally, I’m not a huge fan of the aftertaste it leaves in baked goods.) I’m starting small with just five containers. Here’s what I did.

I’ve been collecting an assortment of tin cans all year. I grabbed five of them and used a drill to make holes in the bottom. Because stevia likes well-drained soil, I wanted to add a little something to the bottom of each can to create air pockets for drainage. What better to use than some of the myriad twigs lying around my yard? Cleans my yard up a smidge (ok, a very tiny smidge), makes good use of what would otherwise be yard waste and creates a mini-hugelkultur climate in my herb containers. Win win win!

holes in tin can planter for herbs

I started by drilling drainage holes in the bottoms of my tin cans.

tin can herb planters with twigs for drainage

Next I added a layer of fallen twigs. These will aid in drainage by creating air pockets and will also add a hugelkultur effect to these tiny planters.

planting stevia in tin can herb planters

I’m planting stevia from Seed Savers Exchange in these mini-planters.

I’ve never grown stevia before… can’t wait to see (and taste) what lies ahead! And I’m super excited about all the other tea-worthy herbs that are yet to come.

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A Micro Tea Garden

I want a tea garden. And by ‘tea garden’, I mean a garden with hedges made of true tea plants (Camellia sinensis) and tea-worthy herbs that I can harvest at my leisure (<— said with my best British accent) then steep for a delicious homemade tea minutes later. On top of that, I wouldn’t mind sitting in the midst of all those beautiful hedges and herbs while I sip said tea. The ideal tea garden would be very near my back door. I have visions of something marvelous and much like the following:

Source: via Arcadia on Pinterest

Source: via Arcadia on Pinterest

Source: via Arcadia on Pinterest




Source: via Arcadia on Pinterest



But the unfortunate reality is that there just isn’t a great space available for my fantasy tea garden. While I do plan to incorporate some herbs like chamomile and mint into the main garden this year, the bulk of the garden space (Main Garden and Fenceline Garden) is rightfully set aside for growing vegetables to support our CSA. I considered planting around the perimeter of the house (that would be pretty and practical!) but I know that there was a previous application of insecticide for termintes applied here and I’m reluctant. (Apparently this treatment bonds to the soil and stays put so its not an issue for the rest of the property – the garden is at the complete other end of our acre – but I’m not taking a chance of growing edible plants right above or next to it.)

What’s a tea loving girl to do? How about this: I intend to have my tea garden in containers. I’ll be reusing (up-cycling, if you will) tin cans as planters which will be affixed to the posts of our garden fence. They’ll get plenty of sun out there, they’ll be conveniently close to our water source and they’ll just be pleasant to look at and smell as I work in the garden. After drilling a few drainage holes in the bottom and filling them with compost, they should be well-suited to growing little bits of beauty. I’ll have several cans of yarrow, thyme, spearmint, sage, rosemary, peppermint, lavender, lemon grass, fennel, chamomile and anise. Those herbs with fragrant flowers will hopefully also attract more bees and butterflies. I’m not 100% sure yet what they’ll look like or how I’ll secure them to the fence (maybe just nails?) but here’s a gallery of inspiration that the final product is sure to come from.


What do you think? Any suggestions for how to hang them? Or suggestions for tea-worthy herbs to grow in them? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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