My love and appreciation of tea is immense. I love this quote by C.S. Lewis ” You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” I need to have my large cup first thing in the morning and enjoy several cups through the day. For early mornings, I like a robust black tea such as PG tips or a good British or Irish tea with a little sugar and a spot of milk. During the day I like to sip on green teas or Rooibos. After dinner I like a cup of hot Jasmine, Lemongrass or Peachy Oolong tea. Before heading to bed, I more than likely will also have a cup of herbal tea like a Chamomile, mint or sometimes a de-caffeinated black tea. I always travel with my favorite teabags if I know that I am heading into a coffee dominated zone for a trip or one where I will find tea of questionable quality. Am I a bit of a tea snob? …Yes!!! All teas are not created equally.
Since I moved to Haiti some 27 plus years now, I have learned about different infusions and “tisanes”. In a previous post I wrote about “The Coffee Culture in Haiti”. When one talks about tea here, the first thought is not of black or green teas; but rather of teas made from leaves of plants which are picked fresh, washed and tied in a bundle and placed in boiling water, covered with a lid and then left to infuse. The term “infusion” means that the properties and flavors of the leaves, flowers, roots or bark are imbibed in the hot water as it steeps. After about 5-10 minutes, the concoction is strained and served warm and depending on your taste may be sweetened with sugar or honey. The infusion method of tea making is well known from antiquity and has been used for medicinal purposes all over the world. Many ancient peoples found cures for various illnesses and conditions from local plants. This was how early medicines were concocted and today are still the base for many of the medications which we take in pills or syrup. Various combinations can be prepared as cures for a multitude of ailments. Knowing the right combinations and dosages are key to many herbal remedies. As with all medications, precautions need to be taken for pregnant and lactating mothers as well as elderly people or those with compromised immune systems.
A tea which I like for its health and well being properties as well as its delicious and fragrant taste is Citronella or Lemongrass. Here in Haiti it is known as Citronelle and grows extremely well in the warm climate. The plant is decorative and can be grown in a pot. It is such a wonderful thing to be able to walk into your garden or even a terrace with a few potted herbs and pick fresh leaves and herbs as you need them. I love having Citronella in several places in my garden.It is well known for helping to evict pesky mosquitoes from the garden. In the Caribbean, we know too well the havoc caused by annoying mosquito, so anything which will help evict or suppress the mosquito population is a welcome addition. I also love Lemongrass for cooking Thai dishes and curries.
For a large pot which serves 2 or enough for 1 person to consume during the day.
2 stalks of Citronella
A pinch of ground cinnamon or a half cinnamon stick
1 green tea bag
1 small lime or 1/2 big lime squeezed
Honey or brown sugar to sweeten
2 -3 cups water
Wash the Citronella leaves well and bruise/ lightly pound the white heads to release the natural oils.
In a medium saucepan pour water and heat to a rapid boil.
When the water begins to boil, add the leaves, green tea bag, cinnamon and cover the pan. Turn off the heat and leave to infuse for 5-10 minutes.
Strain the tea into a teapot or glass carafe.
Add the squeezed lime juice, and sweeten to taste. This may be served as a hot or cold beverage.
Drinking Citronella infusions are beneficial for many functions. This tea drunk warm is a wonderful digestive after a meal. There are also diuretic properties from the lemongrass which help remove toxins through urination. This tisane is also great at easing menstrual cramps, relieving joint pain and is also a soothing drink for colds and flu. Green tea is well known to be rich in antioxidants so I like to add it to this tea recipe. Drinking hot green tea will increase fat burning, especially when sipped after meals. The caffeine in the green tea is also associated with an increase in physical performance. The warming effects of the cinnamon and the astringent qualities of the lime juice are cleansing and detoxing. All of these wonderful separate components come together to make a beverage that is not only healthy but is also a great tasting tea.
Why not try this recipe and you can sip it throughout the day. It’s delicious and good for all that ails you.