How to Grow and Dry Lemon Balm (Cidreira)
I also dry my mint and make mint tea. I enjoy mixing both cidreira and mint for wonderful mix of flavor. Follow the same instructions for drying mint as you do the lemon balm.
Buy this beautiful custom Galo de Barcelos Mug at Lisbon Blue shop
Growing your own Lemon Balm tea is easy and you’ll get to enjoy herbal organic tea all year long with these easy steps! This tea is perfect for you to enjoy on a quiet afternoon, a lazy Sunday, when you need a little comfort, or when you have an upset stomach.
“A member of the mint family, lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) (Cidreira in Portuguese), 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.” http://www.thekitchn.com
Notice the beautiful Vintage made in Portugal Vista Alegre tea cups that were my mothers.
The final results after they dried in my kitchen for 3 weeks.
I planted in the spring from a small pot which I transplanted into my vegetable garden but you also grow it in a large pot all summer long. They require vertually no maintenance except watering which makes this so easy to grow.
How to dry the lemon balm leaves for tea:
Once the stems grow to about 1 foot in height and before they start to sprout seedlings trim the plant at the stem bottoms. Place in a bowl of very cold water and rinse 2 or 3 times to wash thoroughly.
Place leaves in a salad spinner or shake off the excess water gently not to break leaves. Place on paper towels to absorb water and turn them over. Replace the paper towels until all the moister is absorbed from the leaves. Let dry for a few hours or overnight on the paper towels.
Grab each piece gently by each stem and create a bunch tied with food safe twine or string. Hang in your kitchen or in a cool dark place for 2-3 weeks until the leaves are completely dry.
When leaves are dry break of the leaves and place into a food safe mason jar, a clean jar from your pantry or a food safe tin for storage. Close the lids tightly. You can place the leaves in zip lock bag but the leaves may break easily, that’s why I prefer a jar. The tea will store until the next summer when you’re ready to make a fresh new batch.
Make Lemon Balm tea by boiling about 2 tablespoons of the leaves in 2 cups water for about 3 minutes and let seep on low heat for another 5 minutes. The longer it seeps the deeper the flavor. However don’t took too long since the tea will get bitter. You can adjust the boil time to your preference.