Thursday, August 09, 2012

Lemon verbena tea

Lemon verbena infusion is one of these tried and true "grandmother's remedies" that are really enjoyable. Drink a cup after a heavy meal and you won't suffer indigestion. Not only is this drink good for your gut, it freshens the mouth and gives you the perfect excuse for a relaxing break during your day. Time will stop for a few minutes while you sip your hot "verveine."

People in France love herbal teas. Actually, when I am in France, I am offered an herbal tea after every single meal—lunch and dinner, heavy or not. Stores in France offer an incredible selection of tea bags filled with all kinds of tasty herb and flower mixes, but many families still grow (or pick) and dry their own medicinal herbs. Some very common examples are lime blossom (linden tree flower—le tilleul), chamomille, thyme, mint, and of course lemon verbena. All can be brewed and turned into delectable beverages and have specific benefits. Chamomille and linden are great bedtime relaxation teas. Thyme is antiseptic and can help fight a cold or sore throat—you can simply inhale the vapors if you don't like the taste. Mint and lemon verbena (often used together) are said to have digestive and antioxidant properties.

I bought a plant several years ago in a nearby nursery (probably SummerWinds in Sunnyvale) and it might be the only plant I haven't managed to kill yet :-) The more I trim it the more it grows. It sits in a rather cool, partly shaded corner of my backyard and gets watered by the sprinklers every day.

I trimmed the longest branches a few weeks ago—this can be done all through the spring and summer—rinsed them very rapidly to remove any dust from the leaves without rinsing off the flavors, then hung the branches upside down in my kitchen for 3 days. When the leaves became brittle, I knew they were dry. I cut the branches into 1–2" sticks (cutting between every group of leaves, or every other group), then stored in a glass jar.

I use 3 or 4 sticks (with the verbena leaves attached to them) in every mug with about 2 cups of boiling water. I brew for several minutes and drink hot. If you prefer something sweet, try adding a teaspoon of honey.