When life gives you weeds, make tea!

I ended up foraging in an unexpected spot yesterday — my in-laws’ front garden!

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Lemon balm, Melissa 0fficinalis

As we approached their front door, I detected a lovely lemon fragrance so asked my father-in-law what he had growing. His reply, “Oh, those are just weeds… I can’t get rid of them!”

So with my handy secateurs (always in the trunk of the car along with some cotton bags for carrying my wild bounty), I harvested enough to fill a couple of quart jars and brought them home for making a delicious and relaxing lemon balm tea.

Lemon balm— Melissa officinalis — is in the mint family and has a lovely lemon fragrance. It can be used to calm the digestive system and as an aid for relaxing. I love that the word Melissa is Greek for honey bee — and this fragrant herb will definitely attract  those lovely pollinators to your garden.

I like to make tea made from fresh lemon balm leaves. You can dry them, of course, but they do lose some of their potency… but perfect for winter nights when fresh lemon balm may be hard to come by.

To make a lemon balm tea concentrate

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Fresh lemon balm infusion

  • Pick enough to fill a quart jar with the leaves and small stems.
  • Rinse and dry.
  • Fill the quart jar with leaves, crushing/bruising as you go and pushing down to add as many as possible.
  • Top with boiling water, covering the leaves, and crush again with a wooden spoon.
  • Cap jar and let fully cool.
  • Strain and decant into a different container.
  • Use immediately or store in the fridge for a day or two (up to 3-4 days maximum)
  • Any tea concentrate you haven’t used within three days can be frozen in ice cube trays and stored in your freezer.

To serve
Depending on the strength of your brew and how long you infuse it —and your own preferences — dilute your lemon balm tea concentrate approximately 50:50 with boiling water. Some like it stronger and some weaker, so you could start with a 1/4 cup and play around with the taste by gradually adding hot water until you get to your preferred dilution.

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Lemon Balm Tea served chilled with ice and fresh mint leaves

Your freshly brewed tea  can be served hot or cold, and sweetened with 🍯honey or any other natural sweetener, if desired. You could also add a slice or two of 🍋lemon🍋. Lemon balm also works well with other herbs such as lavender and peppermint. Add a few peppermint leaves or lavender buds to a lemon balm tea… or vice-versa!

Lavender-Lemon Balm Calming Tea

In her book, Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide, herbalist Rosemary Gladstar shares her recipe for a delicious anti-stress tea, which can be served chilled or at room temperature. Depending on the quantity you want, one part can equal 1/4 cup, one cup, one quart, etc.

  • 1 part extra strong lavender tea
  • 1 part extra strong lemon balm tea
  • 2 parts fresh lemonade

Caution
Research any 🌿herb🌿 before you use it to make sure it’s safe for YOU. Some herbalists say lemon balm is contra-indicated for those with low thyroid function. Others claim blood tests indicate no change in thyroid function after drinking this tea. So, do the research!


 

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