Friday, August 10, 2012

Lemon Verbena Summer Tea

I have been in love with lemon verbena since childhood.  You may remember me waxing poetic about my aunt and uncle's garden here.  In addition to a proliferation of citrus fruit, they always had a small bush of lemon verbena growing in the front yard.  My aunt referred to it by part of it's Latin name, Aloysia. As a child, I was sure she was calling it "Louisa." I didn't realize until embarrassingly later in life that this wondrous plant was in fact called lemon verbena, and not named after one of the Von Trapp daughters.

Some years the plant grew waist high, some years-- drier years-- it was scraggly and low, but there were always a few leaves for picking and steeping in tea.  Lemon verbena, in the proper climates, is a shrub.  The leaves are so fragrant that you can smell the lemony sweetness even by brushing past them as you walk. In tea, it gives a really smooth and subtle lemon flavor, with none of the sourness or acidity of actual lemons. It's warm and wonderful.

Now, since the garden is finally ready for planting (more on that later) I went out and got myself my very own Louisa plant.  I live in a much colder climate than lemon verbena should really have to thrive, but I'm hoping for the best.  Wish me luck.

Lemon Verbena Summer Tea

You can make lemon verbena tea on its own, or add it to hot or iced green or black tea for something a little more complex. It's very versatile.  Today, I made this tea hot.  You can follow the same directions, increasing the portion size, and with a little patience have a pitcher full of delicious iced tea.

6 oz boiling water
5 leaves lemon verbena
1 tsp honey

For one mug of tea, pick at about five good sized leaves.  Pour six ounces boiling water over the leaves and let steep about five minutes.  Add a scant teaspoon of honey.  Sip and enjoy.

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