My lavender bushes are just beginning to bud and as I write, I am sipping a cup of lavender flavored tea. Just two buds steeped with my black tea produced a delicious light flavored tea. Historically, lavender was used to treat all kinds of ailments from stomach disorders to headaches and antiseptics. I am just drinking it because it is good and relaxing.
Egyptians, Romans, Greeks, and Arabs have used lavender, or more specifically English lavender, since ancient times through the centuries to present times. It was and still is used for medical, cosmetics, massage oils, even embalming. During medieval times, lavender was thought to protect against the plague and cholera and there is some historical evidence that it actually did do that. In addition, it was used as an antiseptic to cleanse sick rooms, treat head lice and fleas, protect against other insects, treat migraine headaches and burns, and induce sleep. Lavender was also used for its fragrance in soaps, potpourris, and perfumes. It is still widely used for many of the same reasons.
Dried lavender is readily available in bundled bouquets or loose blossoms. You can find numerous on line sources by Googling dried lavender. Lavender farms exist in most areas and usually offer fresh bouquets, dried bouquets, or u picking. Picking season is June and July. To locate farms in your area, just search "lavender farms" on Google. Often these farms also offer handcrafted products made from lavender.
You can also dry your own. It is one of the easier flowers to dry. While it is not difficult to grow, it needs full sun and not a lot of water. For an added bonus, lavender attracts butterflies. There are numerous varieties of lavender, but the English lavender produces nice, purple blossoms.
Plants are ready to pick and dry right before the blooms open. If you wait until the petals are fully open, they will fall off when dry. When the stems have purple, long fuzzy looking ends (called calyxes), they are ready to pick. Cut stems as long as you can, tie into bundles, and hang upside down in a warm, dry, dark space with good air circulation. It will take several weeks to thoroughly dry both stems and flowers. When dried, they are ready to store or use for many projects. Wrap stemmed bouquets in tissue and store in a drawer or strip buds and store in airtight glass or ceramic containers for later use.
Well, I have finished my cup of tea and am heading out to my garden to see if I have some lavender ready to pick. I think I just want a fresh bouquet on my dining room table for dinner tonight. By the way, I wouldn't use commercially preserved lavender for any internal use (such as tea). You never know what kind of chemicals may have been used in the drying process. Also do not use lavender oil internally unless the product is labeled safe for such use.