Sunday, June 22, 2014

When life gives you too much lemon balm…


I think it was 15 years ago that I had an herb garden where my chicken run now stands. At that time I planted a small cutting of lemon balm. I didn't know what to do with the stuff, I just thought it looked pretty and smelled wonderful — lemony but more like lemon grass than actual lemons. Every time I walked by the plant and disturbed the air around it, the rich lemony scent would fill the air.

Since then, I've found the stuff is as invasive as mint. It looks a lot like mint. It's actually in the mint family and when people visit my garden they always mistake it for peppermint. Lemon balm is also called Lemon Mint. Pests don't seem to like it one bit, it doesn't seem to need much water and it SPREADS. 

Lemon Balm is supposed to have calming properties, helps with insomnia, stress, digestive issues, colic in babies, menstrual pain, headache, toothache, Alzheimer's… you name it. Apparently it will fix anything that ails you! I'm always in favor of natural calming remedies and decided to try making teas with my plants.

For cold tea, I just take a bunch of the leaves, stem and all (about 2 cups, rinsed first of course), smoosh them into a ball and put that in a heat-proof container. Then I boil a kettle full of filtered water, pour the boiling water over the leaves and let it steep. If the leaves float to the top of the water, I put an upright stainless steel spoon on top of the ball of leaves and use it to weight them down. You can pull the wad of leaves out when the water cools down and use the tea right away or store in the fridge. It will keep for a couple of days. I love pouring this tea over a glass filled with ice cubes and a few drops of Stevia liquid.

The hot tea almost tastes even better! Again I take some leaves, a generous tablespoon-sized wad, and put it in a mug. I add boiling water, let it steep for about 4 minutes and end up with a rich, fragrant, lemony hot drink. Very soothing and delicious! 

You could also add mint to the lemon balm for lemon-mint teas.


As my garden overfloweth with Lemon Balm, I'm thrilled to know how beneficial a plant it is. I'd just love to be able to give some away...

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