Dec 192011
 
Lemon Verbena in flower

by Avis Licht

Lemon Verbena in flower

One of the best herbs for tea and flavoring - lemon verbena

Growing your own herbs for tea and flavorings is easy and satisfying. Many herbs can be grown in pots and brought inside in the winter, to give you fresh, delicious taste. In the next series of posts I’ll go through a variety of my favorite herbs.  Today’s is about Lemon Verbena.

This delicate perennial can survive winters down to 20 deg F, but will lose its leaves in the the winter.  In mild winter areas, it may keep some of its leaves.  So if you have a place in your house for this plant, it is worth the space. We don’t always have lemons available, but you can have lemon flavoring with this plant.  It is tangy and lemony in a way you wouldn’t think a leaf could be.

In the ground, lemon verbena can grow to 8 – 10 feet. It looks better pruned, but is still kind of homely.  However, its flavor more than makes up for any  visual deficiencies.

Lemon verbena prefers  rich, well drained soil. It does better with regular watering, but can become fairly drought resistant with time. Full sun is the best.

In a container, make sure it has compost and well draining potting soil.  Water it regularly, but don’t leave it sitting in water. Put it in a sunny spot by a window.

Lemon verbena grown in the ground

Incredible lemon fragrance makes lemon verbena a favorite shrub

You can use the leaf as a substitute for lemon zest in almost any recipe. It is fine in both sweet and savory dishes. You can use the leaves to garnish fruit salad, or put it in with vegetables such as as broccoli, spinach or asparagus.  You can rub chicken or lamb with the leaf or lay it over fish while baking.

Pour boiling water over the leaves and you have a wonderful tea, or float a few leaves in cold water and have the fresh taste of lemon.

Its uses are really numerous.  Experiment – you can’t go wrong with this plant in your edible landscape.

 

Nov 192011
 
Tea pots for the Tea Party?

A variety of teapots will always come in handy

One of the easiest edibles to produce in your own home garden is a drinkable.  Herbal teas are easy to grow, delicious and good for you. One can always buy dried tea at the store, but fresh herb tea is another thing altogether. The fragrance and aroma goes straight to the brain and release those happy endorphins.

Mint in its many forms: spearmint, peppermint, lemon balm, and other herbs:  raspberry leaf, lemon verbena, rose hip, chamomile, comfrey, nettle.  The list goes on and on.  Even the smallest garden can grow  herbs for tea. When you grow your own, you know that it is clean and organic.  And best of all, you can pick it and use it straight from the garden at its most nutritious.

After picking your leaves, wash carefully, then rub them together to let the essential oils out.  Add the herbs to a teapot or directly to a mug or cup. For each cup of tea, add approximately 2 to 3 teaspoons of fresh leaves and/or flowers. Slice rose hips in half before adding.

tea cup with strainer

This tea cup came with its own strainer.

A beautiful teapot or tea cup with strainer makes a wonderful gift. They don’t need to be expensive to be delightful. One of the signs  of a good teapot is a strainer to put the tea leaves in.  You can then remove it from the teapot or the cup when it is done steeping.

Everyone can enjoy their favorite tea if you have several small teapots available for making different teas. Glass teapots are very elegant. But apparently very breakable, which is why I don’t have a picture of mine to show you.

For those of you with a little Irish in your soul, you can add a little something to your tea to warm you up on those extra cold winter nights. I’ll leave it to your imagination to figure out what that is.

Enjoy!

Tea Pot with strainer

Small and elegant with its own strainer. A classic look.

Tea cup with strainer and top

Who could resist this sweet cup with its own top

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