Lemon balm is known by many names, such as balm mint, bee balm, blue balm, cure-all, garden balm, honey plant, melissa, sweet balm or even sweet Mary. These names describe the properties of the herb very well. Lemon balm was dedicated to the goddess Diana, and used medicinally by the Greeks. It is believed that lemon balm tea is a tension reliever and enhances relaxation, especially in expectant women.
My husband Lulu planted lemon balm in our garden a couple of years ago. Like mint, lemon balm grows easily and requires very little maintenance. The first crop of leaves was ready to be used this week, and we were all looking forward to a tall pitcher of lemon balm iced tea. For optimum fragrance, I waited for a sunny day to pick the leaves. First, I bruised the leaves and infused them in hot water. I added simple syrup and lemon juice to balance the flavor. I then added ice cubes to bring down the temperature of the tea. After a little time in the fridge, it was ready to serve.
The tea is incredibly soothing. When you swirl it, you can see the reflection of the essential oils from the lemon balm on the surface of the drink. It definitely sets the mood for a lazy summer day.