Lemon verbena, or Aloysia Citrodora, to give it its botanical name, is a perennial shrub often consumed as a tea for its health benefits and strong citrus taste. In Greece lemon verbena is known as “Louisa” and is often added to tea blends. But far from just being a mixer or “filler” herb, lemon verbena is a potent, healthy, highly beneficial herb in its own right and one that should be in the pantry of every true tea lover.
What is Lemon Verbena?
Lemon verbena is a herb that is native to South America but grows all over the world. It thrives in hot climates, which is why Greece has some of the best lemon verbena in the world. The Greeks have also been some of the biggest proponents of this herb in recent years, using it to flavor herbal teas, Greek yoghurt, desserts, dressings and more.
The Greeks love lemon scented and lemon tasting foods and drinks after all, and a herb that manages all of this without any additional calories and with heaps of benefits thrown in, is perfect.
How to Make Lemon Verbena Tea
Lemon verbena tea is often made entirely of the Louisa herb and nothing else. Or at least that should be the case and if you buy your tea from a reputable supplier then it will be the case. As often happens though, tea blends end up using lemon verbena in combination with other ingredients, making up for the low quality of the herb.
Providing the lemon verbena used is organic, freshly dried and of a high quality then it should be good enough to make a great tea on its own. Look out for tea blends that contain whole loose leafs. The lemon verbena leaf crumbles easily, but if it has undergone minimal processing as it should, then you should still be able to see twigs of a few centimeters in length and leaves that actually look like leaves.
To brew the tea, simply steep it in boiling water for 3 to 5 minutes and then drink it without milk and with a little honey, sugar or sweeteners. The amount you use is entirely up to you, but we find that one teaspoon of crushed dried lemon verbena leaf is best per cup.
What Does Lemon Verbena Tea Taste Like?
Lemon verbena has a strong citrus flavor. And we’re not just saying that. It’s not one of those “tasting notes” that seems to come from nowhere and has no basis in truth. Lemon verbena really does taste like lemon juice. In fact, when added to tea blends it tastes like the tea has been given a squirt or two of fresh lemon juice.
It is possible for this tea to become bitter if too much of it is used, but it’s very mild and you would need to go way overboard for this to become a noticeable issue.
Benefits of Lemon Verbena Tea
Lemon verbena, just like Greek mountain tea, chamomile and other herbal teas we have discussed on this site, is hugely beneficial. There are minimal side effects, if any, and it has been shown to help with everything from digestion to weight management and more.
As with everything, there are proven benefits and suggested benefits, but it’s easy to separate the two. The main benefits of lemon verbena stem from its high antioxidant count, which means it can help with everything from cancer prevention to increased muscle growth following weight training.
Lemon verbena can also help to reduce inflammation and to boost your immune system, all of which also stem from its high concentration of antioxidants. If you ask the Greeks, then the main benefit of lemon verbena is the fact that it soothes the stomach, speeds up digestion, reduces discomfort and indigestion, and eliminates cramping. It’s not just the Greeks that believe this either, as most of the ancient civilizations that have consumed this herb for centuries have done for because of its soothing effect on the stomach and the digestion system on the whole.
Other Health Benefits of Lemon Verbena Tea
It doesn’t stop there either, research suggests that lemon verbena may also be able to reduce fevers and aid with menstruation pains and discomfort. There are suggestions that it could be used to aid with anxiety and depression as well, although it doesn’t seem to be as effective as teas like chamomile in this regard.
Side Effects of Lemon Verbena
There are very few side effects with moderate consumption of lemon verbena. However, excessive consumption may lead to stomach upset, including nausea, vomiting and general sickness. The same can be said for excessive consumption of anything though and you’d likely need to drink a lot of lemon verbena tea to feel such effects.
The only real side effects to worry about with regards to lemon verbena tea are those associated with allergic reactions. Mild allergic reactions have been noted, including dermatitis. It is also not recommended for anyone who suffers from kidney disease and caution is advised in those who are taking prescription medication or undergoing treatment for a disease or illness.
Where to Find Lemon Verbena?
Finding a high quality lemon verbena tea outside of Greece is not easy. There are many sellers on auction sites like eBay, but you don’t always know what you’re getting, where it has been produced or if it is organic or not. We have found some great teas in Greece and even in South America, but these are often packed and labelled in the local language and if you don’t speak it then it can be difficult to know what you’re getting.
The one thing we would advise is that you stay away from eBay. We have bought a lot of low quality teas from that site, teas that are clearly several years old and have probably been sitting in the back of someone’s garage gathering dust, as well as teas that don’t have an origin. There are no commercial brands that currently stock it as far as we know, but there are some decent bags of this tea sold in health shops online and offline.
If you want the very best lemon verbena tea, you should also avoid the dust-filled teabags sold by major commercial brands. These are very low quality and never give you a true Louisa tea experience.