I planted a couple of lemon balm plants in the garden these past couple of weeks. Not only do do they smell great when the leaves are rubbed, it self-seeds readily in flowerbeds or even gaps between paving. It is a common but under appreciated garden plant, possibly because it is easy to grow – it is tolerant of a range of conditions, including drought, and isn’t affected by many pests and diseases. Want to try planting it? Even a small scrap of stalk will readily root in a glass of water, making it a plant for garden visitors to take home and grow on a windowsill or in their own garden.
Lemon balm is often used as a flavouring in ice cream and herbal teas, both hot and iced, often in combination with other herbs such as spearmint as it is actually from the mint family. It is also frequently paired with fruit dishes or candies. It can be used in fish dishes and is the key ingredient in lemon balm pesto. For companion planting: If you are growing tomatoes, plant lemon balm beside them, it will improve flavour and growth in the tomatoes.
Today I made a lemon balm tea. It is said that lemon balm has a calming effect and is a good night time tea. You can add a little honey or stevia to sweeten it up if you need it, or it can be drank alone as it has a very light but aromatic flavour.
To make the tea:
- Grab a handful of leaves from the garden
- Wash them gently in cool water, pat dry
- Bruise the leaves by crushing them together or pulling apart
- Add to a large pitcher and add 4-5 cups of boiling water.
- Allow the leaves to steep in the water, keep the lid on or you will lose the aromatics of the leaves.
- Allow the tea to cool. When ready to drink, pour it into a mug and reheat. Add a 1/2 tsp of stevia or natural honey if you want sweetness.
You’ll notice that the tea is very light but has a slight lemony-mint flavour. It’s beautiful and so nice to have fresh tea, made right from the garden!