Project develops blends of Knowle West herbal tea

Main image: Local growers at Springfield Allotments learning how to make herbal tea blends. Picture Ella Chedburn.

Chatting with friends over a cuppa is a simple pleasure many of us have missed during the pandemic.

Now a project designed to bring people together and explore local green spaces has resulted in creating five herbal blends of Knowle West tea.

Tools for Tea was led by artist Linda Brothwell who was looking to involve local people who “worked with their hands.” She got together with a group of community gardeners from the area to produce the blends.

Artist Linda Brothwell. Picture Ibolya Feher.

Growers from Redcatch Community Garden, Let’s Grow Community Allotment and gardens at Filwood Community Centre and Knowle West Media Centre (KWMC) met to learn how to develop and test the herbal teas.

Linda says: “People aren’t growing for tea they are growing for cooking – so what we are seeing is what’s there at the moment… 

“The blends are not for sale, they are always free and each of the community spaces that has a blend is encouraged to have a pot of the dried mix.”

The teas produced include variegated mint, parsley and nasturtium created by Bev Moss from Let’s Grow at Springfield Allotments, Don Jones’s spearmint, English mint and Moroccan mint from the KWMC garden and chocolate mint, fennel seed and orange – developed by Jan Sanger from Redcatch Community Garden.

Jan says: “Linda’s tea project was a privilege and brought me into contact with people from other gardens whom I wouldn’t have had chance to meet…

“She asked us to make a tea from the herbs at our community garden  and gave us the knowledge to dry, blend and brew through a Zoom seminar with the Camden Tea Company… 

“My tea blend used what was around in the garden at the time.  I had a small chocolate mint plant which had come in for sale at the market but needed potting on.  I had fennel seeds which we were collecting to dry and sow next year and I had been drying oranges for use on our garden wreaths. 

“This chocolate mint, fennel and orange brew went down well at the tea group tasting session.  I plan to build up our stock at Redcatch Community Garden in the spring and we’ve been practicing our orange drying skills so we should be in good shape to get our brew in the cafe by the summer…” 

Make-at-home tea strainer

Linda, who has spent 20 years working in metal has also designed a tea strainer which people can make at home. 

The Tools for Tea package – which has been posted out to some residents – includes the strainer kit, a map of local green spaces and a sample of Knowle West herbal tea.

The tea strainer created by Linda Brothwell for people to make themselves. Picture Ibolya Feher.

It is hoped local people will grow their own herbs at home and use the strainer for their brew – or go to community gardens to pick or buy herbs.

Linda says: “It’s a really beautiful object but its never about the object it’s always about sharing and bringing people together. It’s been a really exciting project and I hope it continues.

“Everyone we have met are planting for next year and planning plants they want to grow…”

Linda with local walk leader Vincent White and the Tools for Tea kit. Picture Ibolya Feher.

Vincent White, a local walk leader and member of local men’s group, Man Alive!, received a Tools for Tea kit.

He says: “The men could go out and pick herbs and chuck it in the pot and see what flavours we come up with. It’s a kind of bonding experience over the tea, a coming together and a talking point.”

In the future it is hoped the kit would also be included in welcome packs for new residents coming to the area.

Linda was commissioned by KWMC – keep an eye out for project updates from spring 2022. 

There are a limited number of tea strainers to order at: www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/tools-for-tea-tea-strainer-tickets-217589444887 For more information contact georgia@kwmc.org.uk

To view the make-at-home strainer video visit:

www.lindabrothwell.com/work/tools-for-tea