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  • Writer's pictureAnna

Meet the bee's knees of teas

Lemon verbena is uplifting and calming at the same time.

My love affair with lemon verbena began quite recently, when I discovered a stand of it growing at the community garden where I volunteer. It is both woody and bushy, like a jungle tree. At first glance I found such a profusion of serrated leaves almost forbidding. But somehow they also seemed to invite body contact, enveloping me in a lemon-scented hug once I ventured close.

Lemon verbena may be new to me, but it is one of those plants that became an instant hit when it was introduced from the New World to Europe a few hundred years ago. Its intense citrus scent found its way into perfumes, handkerchiefs and pillow sachets as well as being used as a tea and culinary herb. (I've found it to be a near-perfect substitute for lemongrass in Asian food, without all the fibrousness.)

It was also (and continues to be) prized as a mosquito repellant, although it is beloved by pollinators: one of its other common names is lemon beebrush.

Its primary uses as a medicinal herb include being a digestive aid as well as a mild nervine. Its soothing, relaxing properties make it an excellent tonic for tensions of any kind, whether mental or muscular.

Along with mint and chamomile, it is a herb that can be used for just about anyone in any situation. It is safe, calming and invigorating all at the same time. Add it to your home tea chest if you don't have some already!

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