Mint Tea with Lemon Verbena

A while ago I ordered some herbal tea at the Chez Panisse Café in Berkeley. The tea arrived in a large, clear, glass teapot, filled with green leaves and hot water. The tea was lovely – light, lemony, minty. After we finished it, my curiosity got the best of me and I started fishing out the leaves from the pot, wondering what was in this tea anyway? Our server noticed this odd behavior and quickly came to the table offering to provide us with fresh leaves. “These leaves here are mint, but what are these long green ones?” I asked. “Lemon verbena,” was the answer and she happily addressed my battery of questions about this herb. Lemon verbena is a bushy shrub that grows quite well in Northern California. It originally comes from South America, but has been cultivated in Europe since the 1600s. It has a strong lemon scent and is used to add a lemon flavor to many dishes. In anticipation of making my own verbena mint tea, I planted some this spring. True to expectations, the not-yet-a-bush plant is thriving. Here’s the method for making simple mint tea with lemon verbena:

Mint Tea with Lemon Verbena Recipe

  • Yield: Makes 2 cups.

Ingredients

lemon-verbena.jpg
Lemon verbena

  • 1/2 cup of fresh mint leaves (not the stems, they're bitter), rinsed, lightly packed (about 20 leaves)
  • 1/2 cup of fresh lemon verbena leaves, rinsed, lightly packed (about 10-15 leaves)
  • 2 cups of water

Method

Bring a pot of fresh water almost, but not quite to a boil. Put the mint and verbena leaves in a teapot. Pour the hot water over the leaves. Let sit for 3-5 minutes. Strain into tea cups.

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Links:
Lavender and Lemon Verbena Limeade from A Fridge Full of Food
Lemon Verbena Curd Tart with Blackberries - Serendipitous Chef
Lemon Verbena Sorbet - Splendid Table
Lemon Verbena Spotlight - from Slashfood
Berry and Lemon Verbena Jelly - a creation of Maki from I Was Just Really Very Hungry

12 Comments

  1. Ellie

    A friend of mine has this plant absolutely growing like crazy in her backyard – needless to say that going over to her place for a cup of tea is always a treat, and I make sure to bring back a few handfuls of leaves with me!

  2. Rhiannon

    Would lemon balm work in place of the lemon verbena? Because I have a bunch of that and a bunch of mint that is just dying to be used!

  3. Alanna

    I have a cookbook from a local Herb Society and it’s FULL of recipes using lemon verbena. Maybe in the spring, you can post something reminding us WHY to plant certain things!

  4. Dani Spies

    You know, I saw that mint not too long ago, and although I recognized that it smelled like some type of mint, I had no idea what kind. Thanks for the info!

  5. Glenna

    Yum! Your mint and lemon verbena tea looks like just the thing to relax with. I’ll be trying that later tonight!
    (And thanks for including a link to my limeade!)

  6. shuna fish lydon

    Verbena is actually something unto its own. “Lemon Verbena” is a convenient name because Americans needed something to pin it to.

    When I worked with a Japanese cake maker a few years ago she tasted my verbena ice cream and said it tasted like ginger to her.

    I’m glad to hear your plant is doing well. They can be quite fickle and don’t always proliferate. Locally I buy my verbena from Knoll Farms. But something to note: if you are taking it home from the store/market and are not going to use it right away it rots quickly.

    I lay the stems on a parchment lined cookie sheet as far apart as I can manage, and keep them in a warm dry spot until they all dry out.

    Infsuing with dried leaves produces a slightly different flavour, but it remains light and delicious. The dried leaves can also be bought in bulk from Rainbow Grocery in SF or from certain Tea shops.

  7. Braedaan

    I love your recipes. I drink mint tea for nausea. It works better than most medicine. I didn’t realize the stems cause bitterness. That’s a great tip because I’ve made “light” mint and water that ended up sort of bitter.

    I wonder if the lemon verbena has any medicinal properties to it. Thanks for the recipe, will be a nice change to have lemon flavor naturally in it :)

    Braedaan

  8. Sunset Dave

    Very cool. Sounds like another plant to add to the herb garden out back. My mint plants are all growing like weeds, so if this lemon verbena is anywhere near as prolific, I’m good to go :-)

    I wonder how it does in the Sunset fog though?

  9. lurdes

    I have a bush of lemon verbena. Here in Portugal we call it Lúcia Lima or Limonete. Usually it looses all leaves in winter but then in spring it blossoms again. The smell is wonderful and I never used it for tea or anything alse because I didn’t know one could. Thank you a lot.

  10. Suziq

    Hi, I noticed in the comments for Lemon Verbena Tea, that someone had wondered if Lemon Scented Verbena had any medicinal properties.
    It does actually:
    It helps reduce fevers/temperatures
    It also can help relieve indigestion, similar to mint
    It can also help people with poor digestion, especially, if they have a health problem in that area. Lemon Scented Verbena actually works but soothing the muscles which are spasming during an episode of indigestion or ‘trapped’ wind (flatulence)
    Hope this helps:)

  11. Kristin

    This is really good! Since it’s really hot right now, I decided to make this into iced tea instead. It’s a little milder taste when you add in the ice cubes, but still makes a delicious cool beverage. Definitely try this!

  12. Kevin

    I’d love to grow my own plant but where can I find lemon verbena seeds?

    You might ask your local nursery or search online. I’ve only bought the plant itself, and have not tried to grow one from seed. ~Elise

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