Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Iced Herbal Tea: Green Rooibos, Lemon Verbena, Lemon Balm, and Vana Tulsi

With another four hot days in store here (tomorrow they are forecasting 98 degrees in Philadelphia), I have decided to make more iced tea, including both true tea and herbal tea. Like the previous batch, I made about four cups worth, which fills about three of the tall glasses pictured:

As a side note, I really like the view out my window in my new apartment. This is the view looking out from my work desk. You can see the amber color of this tea; the color is significantly darker than one would get from brewing a typical green tea in the same manner. I believe it is the green rooibos and vana tulsi which impart the darker color.

I chose vana tulsi for this blend because it has a fresher, more herbaceous aroma, and is a little lighter, whereas the other types of holy basil have a more warming, spicy aroma which I think would blend less well with the other herbs.

The Recipe:

It's hard for me to get a good estimate of the amount of lemon balm used, because I grew and dried it, so it is much coarser in leaf texture than the other herbs. The amount I put in occupied much more space than the other herbs, but if it had been crushed to a similar texture as the lemon verbena, I'm estimating it would have been about two teaspoon's worth.

I steeped this batch for about 8 minutes, in one cup of water which I heated to boiling, then I diluted with cold water and cooled it in the fridge before drinking it. I did not add any ice.

The Result and Review:

In this blend, the vana tulsi overpowers the other herbs, so next time I'll use less. Surprisingly, with all the lemony herbs, I notice the lemon least of all in the aroma. The overall character is very herbaceous, summery, and reminds me of a garden. Pleasing, delicately spicy, yet refreshing. With a balance of warming and cooling aromas, this is not a "straight cool" herbal tea the way iced mint tea is. Flavor is mild, not much bitterness or sourness, but there is a fairly astringent aftertaste. Overall strength was moderate; flavorful, but I could drink it in quantity too.

This blend was very enjoyable, but I think it could be improved. Next time, I'll use less vana tulsi.


  1. This sounds like a GREAT blend! We're still in the 60s and 70s here in the Pacific Northwest...sending you cool thoughts.

  2. I've been doing mine in the fridge for anywhere from 5hrs to 3 days (no power) and it really works well. I like this combo - gotta try some. I hope to plant some lemon verbena, but the lack of top soil is so discouraging, I can only do three plants at a time, at most.

  3. Thanks Steph!

    I haven't had the best luck with slow-brewing, cold-brewing iced teas, but I know it can be done. I'll just need to experiment more.

    I don't know much about lemon verbena's growing requirements, but if you have little top soil, I'd go for more of the Mediterranean herbs, rosemary, thyme, the like...they seem to thrive in nutrient poor areas. I planted thyme in my garden and it grew out over exposed bricks on the edge of the bed, and almost got out of control there, but it got choked out by weeds in the richer soil of the bed.