This popular tea or tisane comes from a member of the mint family, Lamiaceae, which also includes the Dead Nettle, a pretty garden wild flower. Originally native to southern Europe this has become almost a weed in some gardens, but the bees love it, so much so that the name Melissa, is Greek for Honey Bee.
Lemon Balm as well as being used as an herbal tea, can be found flavouring ice cream and fruit based desserts. I have just discovered it is also used for making a Lemon Balm Pesto, which I can’t wait to make.
Recent research has shown that daily consumption of this tea, for just 30 days, has reduced ‘oxidative stress’ in radiology staff exposed to persistent low-level radiation as well as producing a marked reduction in plasma DNA damage. It is often recommended for the treatment of Shingles.
Drunk as a tea it has a mild sedative or calming effect, and has shown to improve mood and increase mental performance. In the 14th century the Carmelite nuns from the Abby of Saint Just, formulated a herbal tonic based on Lemon Balm called Carmelite Water or Eau de Carmes.
A teaspoon of these dried leaves in boiling water for five minutes is all you need to know about preparing this traditional drink.