I’ll show you how to make lemon balm tea from fresh or dried lemon balm ~ this soothing caffeine free herbal tea is relaxing and helps you ease into sleep. It’s good for the digestion, too!
Today we’re exploring how to make lemon balm tea, a simple herbal tea that people have been brewing and enjoying for centuries. Lemon balm is known for its soothing, relaxing effect, so it makes a great nighttime tea. I have lemon balm growing in my backyard and I’ve been harvesting a handful of leaves each night to make a cup of tea before bed.
lemon balm ~ what is it?
Lemon balm is a perennial herb in the mint family that’s hardy in zones 3-7 and easy to grow in any garden. Its pretty scalloped heart shaped leaves have a light aroma of lemon and mint. You can plant lemon balm in any garden, or grow it in pots or in a raised bed on a patio. No garden? No problem ~ find dried lemon balm in gourmet grocery stores, or online here.
lemon balm tea benefits
Lemon balm tea is an herbal tea that’s been used for centuries as a relaxant and stress reliever. It’s traditionally been used to reduce anxiety and promote sleep. Lemon balm has also been used to help treat indigestion and menstrual cramps. Other health benefits are being studied but involved higher medicinal doses of the herb. When you drink the tea, you’re using a small ‘culinary’ amount and so any effects will be quite mild.
how to harvest lemon balm for tea
You can harvest your lemon balm leaves any time during the growing season. Clip the stems and then remove the leaves. You can use the leaves fresh, or dry for future use (see drying instructions below.)
Lemon balm leaves are very delicate, so plan to use them or process them right away. You can place in a zip lock bag and refrigerate to keep them up to a few days if necessary.
how to make lemon balm tea
Making any type of tea is not complicated. You’re going to be combining boiling water with fresh or dried leaves. Fresh leaves need to be used soon after harvesting, but if you’ve got dried lemon balm in your cupboard you can brew up a cup any time of year.
1. place fresh or dried lemon balm in a tea pot
The amount of leaves you use is highly variable so feel free to experiment to get the flavor you love. I used fresh leaves, about 20 or so for 4 cups of tea. If making with dried leaves, add about 2 tablespoons, and crush them with your fingers before adding.
2. add boiling water and let steep
The longer you let the tea steep the stronger it will be. 5-10 minutes is standard. I like to give the leaves a stir to help the process along. You’ll see the color deepen as it steeps.
3. pour or strain into your cup
Serve as is, or you can sweeten with a little sugar or honey. I like to add a small slice of lemon. If you want to make iced lemon balm tea, just refrigerate until cold and serve over ice.
how to dry lemon balm
Lemon balm leaves are delicate and dry quickly. You can do it on a tray in the sunshine, in a dehydrator, the oven, or my favorite, in the microwave. Once dry they can be packed in an airtight jar and kept in a dark dry place (like your cupboard) for up to a year. I like to keep the leaves whole, and crush them as needed to preserve the flavor.
1. how to dry lemon balm in the microwave
Place clean dry leaves in a single layer on a paper towel or piece of parchment paper. It will take about 30-40 seconds at high power for the lemon balm to become dry and crumbly. Let cool before storing.
2. how to dry lemon balm in the sun
Place clean dry leaves in a single layer on a parchment or paper towel lined baking sheet or other flat surface and set in the sun until dry and crumbly. The exact time will depend on the temperature and humidity. Let cool before storing.
3. how to dry lemon balm in the oven
Place clean dry leaves in a single layer on a baking sheet and put into a 180F oven for 2-4 hours or until crisp and crumbly. Let cool on the oven trays before storing.
4. how to dry lemon balm in a dehydrator
Pre-heat dehydrator with the thermostat set to 95°F to 115°F. Check after 1-2 hours. The herbs are dry when they crumble easily. Alternatively you can follow your machine’s directions for drying herbs.
how hot should your water be for herbal tea?
Different types of tea require different water temps ~ white and green teas are best made with water that has not quite come to a boil, while black and herbal teas like lemon balm need water at a full boil to bring out the best flavor. Ideally you can bring it to a boil and then let it sit for a minute or two before adding it to your leaves.
HERBAL AND BLACK TEA: 200°F ~ 212°F or just boiling
WHITE OR GREEN TEA: 140°F to 185°F
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How to Make Lemon Balm Tea
- 20 fresh lemon balm leaves Note: if using dried lemon balm, use about 2 tablespoons.
- lemon slices for garnish
- honey to taste, optional
- Bring 1 quart purified water to a boil.
- Put lemon balm leaves in a tea pot.
- Pour the water over the lemon balm leaves, stir, and let steep for 10 minutes.
- Pour or strain into your tea cup or mug. Add honey to taste. Garnish with a slice of lemon and a lemon balm leaf or two.
- The leaves can be added to salads.
- Make the tea into a lemon balm jelly.
- The Greeks and Romans infused lemon balm into their wine!