Lovely Lemon Verbena

Herbal tea is really popular in Germany, but there is one sort I will not buy from a store or market. Lemon Verbena. Or Vervain. It simply does not have that gentle rounded flavour you get when you grow your own. So some years ago I started growing my own.

Lemon Verbena, also know as Lippia citriodora or Aloysia triphylla, is sadly not hardy enough for our climate, so I grow it in pots. In a sunny and sheltered spot, with some shade from the strong afternoon sun, it thrives. I have managed to harvest enough to last me through the winter already this year. (I drink one cup a day). So my next harvest will be for gifts, especially for my niece who also appreciates this lovely tea.

Harvesting is simple. Just snip fresh growth, shaping the shrub as you go, and taking care not to shorten it by too much as to weaken the plant. I cut mine by about a third (in autumn by about half). In spring and summer it will start producing new stems and leaves immediately.

Drying the leaves thoroughly is very important if you want to store them. I strip them from the stems, spread them out on a baking sheet and leave them in an airy place, out of direct sunlight, turning them every day. Within a few days they have withered completely and can be stored in an airtight container for up to a year. (I always add a piece of pasta to absorb any possible remaining bit of moisture).

If I have some strong healthy plants in autumn I will overwinter them in my stairwell, which is very light but not heated. I will water very very sparsely and most of the leaves will turn yellow and drop. But as soon as the plants are given some warmth and water in spring, they start regenerating. By the middle of May they can go back outside and be gently acclimatised to sunny conditions. From my experience night-time temperatures shouldn’t be below about 10°C. However, I always order new organic plants for the Spring in case mine don‘t revive. I can never have too many! 😉

Do you grow Lemon Verbena? Perhaps you have some tips I haven‘t mentioned?

Here are a couple of links to some recipes using this herb that I have posted in the past.

Lemon Verbena/Lemon Verbena Sorbet (vegan)

Lemon Cake (not vegan)

Or simply add a couple of leaves to an iced drink.

They smell wonderful. 😃

Now, talking of iced drinks…

Stay cool! 😉😎☀️

27 thoughts on “Lovely Lemon Verbena

  1. Thank you for the tip about verbena leaves returning when the temperatures are going up again. I will remember it the next time I plant it. Likely in 2020.

    Thank you for this charming writing and your inspired blog, Cathy. Keep enjoying the summer.

  2. Lemon verbena is a lovely plant, the scent of brushed leaves is so invigorating, though I haven’t grown it in years. I have a large patch of lemon balm, which I love as iced tea in the summer, very refreshing and calming. I dry it for tea in winter, but it isn’t as good as fresh. (Not much is!)
    I like the tip of putting a piece of pasta in to absorb any remaining moisture, thanks!

    • I have lots of lemon balm too, but do prefer lemon verbena. It retains its flavour perfectly for about 8 months, then I start to notice I need fresh!

  3. I love it too and grow it occasionally, but it seems to be thirsty and one way or another I always miss a watering and then it’s curtains. I have recently discovered that fresh lemon balm makes a pretty good tisane too. It’s not remotely a substitute, but I do have an endless supply!

    • Yes, mine get a drop of water every day as they are near the tomatoes. I also have loads of lemon balm… it seems to set seed everywhere! But I do prefer lemon verbena for the flavour.

  4. I first had lemon verbena tea in a hotel in Brittany when they had no mint. Admittedly it was in a little labelled bag – verveine – I had to look it up to find out that it was verbena (I should have guessed really as the two words are very similar). I’ve never tried it chilled, but it sounds very refreshing. I might try it with a slice of fresh ginger too.

  5. Thanks for your tips, especially about adding a piece of pasta to absorb any remaining bit of moisture when storing the leaves. I’m going to see about growing a plant in my yard.

  6. I’m not a tea lover, but you make it sound very good and if I had the leaves, I would give it a try. You will be very much enjoying it this winter when the garden is gone to sleep.

  7. Lemon verbena is one of my favorite scents, I love it! I didn’t know it was even a possibility to overwinter like that, I’m going to have to give it a try 🙂

    • If anyone can overwinter it then you Frank! My plants last year were too weak, so I didn‘t even try, but the year before I got three plants through the winter.

  8. I wonder why herbal tea is so popular in Germany? This is the one herbal tea I was persuaded to try and I was pleasantly surprised as I hadn’t been very enthusiastic – although it did almost send me to sleep! I did start looking to buy a plant but it didn’t seem to be readily available at the time

    • When I first came to Germany there were small ‘tea’ shops in every town selling loose tea. Lots of green teas, herbal or fruit, and black with flavouring. There are still a few little shops around, but there is such a good assortment of teabags available in most supermarkets now that they don‘t do as much business. I do, however, buy my normal teabags from the UK – you just can‘t beat Yorkshire Gold! 😉

  9. I just bought a plant this year after tasting the tea at a friend’s house. Up to now I have been using lemon balm and mint. I still find black tea more stimulating and I need a good teaspoon full of honey in the herb tea whereas I like my black tea without sugar or milk. Amelia

    • I can‘t drink herbal tea without some kind of sweetener either. I do love black tea too, but only British teabags! So that means we have cut down on the number of cups we drink as importing Yorkshire tea is not exactly cheap! 😉

  10. Oh your tip about the pasta is most interesting Cathy. Your post is a most timely reminder for me that I will have take some leaves off my plants soon. Thank you!

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