Could you use a little boost this time of year? Spring may be just around the corner, but if you have the winter blues (and if the snow keeps pouring down), the wait might feel like an eternity. Here's a tea to brighten those dreary days. It's made with a tasty blend of herbs including lemon balm, a cheery plant with a long history of raising our spirits.
A member of the mint family, lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) has a lovely lemon flavor and the ability to gently calm the nerves and lift one's mood. Native to the Mediterranean, lemon balm's medicinal and culinary use dates back over 2,000 years. Avicenna, the 11th-century Arab physician, wrote that lemon balm "causeth the mind and heart to become merry." This recipe uses dried lemon balm but if you have access to fresh, that's even better; use three to four times the amount called for.
You could make a tea with just lemon balm, and it would be delicious and uplifting. However, I like to add a handful of other herbs for their healing qualities and flavor:
- Oatstraw: Comprised of the stalks and leaves of the oat plant, oatstraw (Avena sativa) has a mellow grassy flavor. This herb can nourish the nervous system and ease anxiety. It is also a source of B vitamins, calcium, and many other minerals. (Note: You may omit the oatstraw if you have an allergy to oats or are concerned about possible gluten cross-contamination during processing.)
- Rosehips: Rosehips give this tea a mildly tart, fruity flavor. They are also high in vitamin C, which is always useful during the winter months.
- Orange peel: Orange peel complements the citrusy flavor of the lemon balm and rosehips.
- Lavender: Lavender is included for its aroma, which can calm restlessness and depression.
Lemon Balm Tea
Makes 1/4 cup tea blend, enough for 4 cups of tea
2 tablespoons dried lemon balm
1 tablespoon dried oatstraw
2 teaspoons dried, seedless rosehips
1 1/2 teaspoons dried orange peel
1/2 teaspoon dried lavender
Combine all ingredients and store in an airtight container
To make tea: For 1 cup of tea, pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1 rounded tablespoon of the tea blend. Cover and steep for 20 minutes. Strain and sweeten with honey, if desired.
You could also infuse all 4 cups at once (a quart mason jar works well) and sip it throughout the day.