Out of all the herbal teas, lemon balm tea taste most like black tea, without the caffeine. I use the leaves for hot or iced tea either alone or as a base to which I add more pronounced fruity flavors from other plants. In the spring and summer, I pick the leaves as I need them or shear the entire plant down. The plant revives quickly and a second shearing can be done before the fall. The leaves dry well so I can make lemon balm tea all year round.
One of the easiest herbs to grow, lemon balm is a perennial bush grown for its lemon scented leaves. Lemon balm thrives in morning sun and afternoon shade in my Virginia garden. Hardy to zone 4, lemon balm co-exists well with other plants in the garden, serving as a beautiful green “landscape edible” but also as a pollinator plant. Its botanical name, Melissa officinalis, refers to the bee attracting white flowers (“Melissa” is Greek for “bee”) and long-serving medicinal qualities (“officinalis” refers to historical medicinal value). Actually, lemon balm’s medicinal value has been known for more than 2,000 years but for my family I tend to focus on lemon balm’s culinary uses. Fresh leaves add lemon flavor in baked goods like pound cake, muffins, scones, and cookies. Lemon balm can also be added to fruit salad, sorbets, butter, cheese, fish, and chicken dishes.
Lemon balm is easy to grow from seed but also cheap to buy as a small plant in the spring. If a friend has it, get a stem cutting and root it in water. As a member of the mint family, lemon balm roots easily but this species is not invasive. Try growing lemon balm to brew a hot cup of tea to celebrate National Hot Tea Day!
I love lemon balm. It’s so simple to grow and the scent is out of this world.
Yes, it has a great scent!
Do you have lemon balm recipes on the website?
If you type “lemon balm” in the search bar on my website, you will find a few recipes. Another option is to join the Facebook group Culinary Herbs and Spices and ask members for suggestions on how to use lemon balm or visit the Herb Society of America website and they have a database of recipes where you can enter the herb and see what can be made with it.