G a r d e n s i d e G o u r m e t #3
FRESH LEMON BALM TEA (HOT OR ICED)
(1/2 gallon iced)
Lemon balm is part of the mint family. Here in Western North Carolina it grows like a weed and is nearly considered invasive. However, in it’s mellow, soothing taste, it holds the calm, mystical spirit of these mountains and woods. If you decide to visit the Smokies in the spring or summer and want to take away a piece of the authentic experience, I recommend picking the fresh leaves, buying some local honey, and brewing your own pot. In my opinion, it goes with the view!
* For more on lemon balm: http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/hil/hil-126.html
a large bowl
one medium sized bowl
2-handfull bundles of fresh lemonbalm leaves (fills half of a 1/2 gal jar or 3/4 of the large press) * Try not to bruise the leaves while harvesting.
1 1/2 gallon mason jar (for iced tea) with top or a large french press or teapot (for hot)
a small jar of local honey (hopefully from the farmer’s market or a co-op)
a long wooden spoon
1 handheld sieve
Instructions: (very simple)
Harvest lemon balm and add to large bowl. Set a full kettle to boil. Fill bowl with cold water and wash by submerging leaves and gently swirling to shake down any dirt. Lift leaves up out of the water and place in the smaller bowl. Repeat the wash 2 more times.
Add leaves to the bottom of the jar, press, or pot, bruising and bending a few of them to release the oils. Add honey to the leaves according to your taste. I use about 2-3T.
Carefully pour boiling water over leaves and honey. Gently stir with long spoon. Now’s a good time to add any other optional flavors like: a few drops of juice from a lime or lemon; or stir in some other fresh herbs like hyssop, spearmint, or tarragon. I usually add a drop or two of lime.
If in the jar, use a towel to sit it in a secure place to cool, resting with the lid half on. When it reaches room temperature, refrigerate for at least 2 hours. When you serve, place the sieve over the mug or glass. Mmm!
If using the press or pot, allow it to steep for 15-20 minutes before pressing or pouring. Enjoy!!