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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Herbalism: Lemon Balm & Peppermint Lemony Iced Tea

Hello again,

While we're enjoying much milder temperatures then most other places in North America at this time, I looked out at my little garden and figured that this might be a good time to experiment with some of the plants I have growing out there.

As my gaze settled on the two containers which hold my Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) and my Peppermint (Mentha piperita) which sit side by side and their very generous bounty, I decided that an Iced Tea would be a really nice idea. Both plants are of the mint family and they have a tendency to compete with each other so my setting their containers side by side has spurred both to grow most rampantly. I would advise against planting either in ground as they spread prolifically and WILL cross a lawn to get to each other.

Grabbing my trusty snippers, I ventured outside and trimmed a generous amount off both plants (which has hardly put a dent in the bushy foliage of either). Coming back inside, I washed them and then set to shredding the leaves ... you will want to have enough of each plant to make up roughly 1 loosely packed cup of plant material.

Lemon Balm is an excellent calmative for the nervous system and can be used infused in teas and honeys to soothe sore throats and strep. Peppermint is a cooling herb which has strong beneficial effect on the respiratory system.

Peppermint on the left and Lemon Balm on the right.

Place the shredded plant material into a container that has a lid.
Boil 8 cups of water in a separate container or kettle and pour it
over the plant material and cover quickly. Allow to steep for 20
to 30 minutes before straining.

Place 2 - 3 tablespoons of Honey into a mixing bowl and
then pour the still hot strained tea over it and stir until
the honey has completely dissolved.

Straining the plant material out of the tea.

As my straining container couldn't hold all the tea at one time,
I had to strain in two batches as quickly as I could to not allow
the fluid to cool too quickly.

The honey has melted thoroughly into the tea. Pour into a
pitcher and place in the fridge until cold. Add the juice from
2 medium sized lemons (or 6 Tbsp of lemon juice) and refrigerate

Stir and serve the next day.
You can garnish if you like with lemon slices and
a sprig each of Lemon Balm and Peppermint.
My eldest poured himself a big glass upon getting home from work and described it as mild and refreshing ... quite nice. For my part, I decided to be a little wild and added 1oz Artisan Elder-flower Liqueur to 7oz of the chilled tea and it was pure DELIGHT!

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