Discover the Benefits of Lemon Grass Tea

Whether or not it aids digestions or helps high blood pressure, lemongrass tea is a refreshing beverage. And if you live in a warm climate you can grow the plant yourself.
By Sofia Ruiz de Andadora
September/October 1978

You might find the lemongrass for your lemongrass tea growing wild.
PHOTO: R.C. WALKER
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No Spanish American’s herb garden was complete — at least here in California during the state’s early days — unless it contained te-de-limon, or lemongrass. Then, over the years, the plant, like so many other sources of natural drinks and “cures,” slowly faded from use and cultivation. Today’s renewed and still-growing interest in herbs and herb teas, however, is now bringing te-de-limon back once again: For the first time in years, dried lemongrass is being sold — and purchased! — in health food stores throughout southern California.

Although there seems to be little scientific basis for the claims, Mexican folk medicine holds that the benefits of lemongrass tea include: aiding digestion, calming nervous disorders and helping in the treatment of high blood pressure. Cymbopogon citratus — as the plant is known to the botanist — is also cultivated and distilled in Java, Ceylon, Malaysia and Central America for its oil (which is used in pharmaceutical preparations and skincare products). Furthermore, according to Dorothy Hall’s The Book of Herbs, lemongrass contains vitamin A and is good for “those who wish to have bright eyes and a clear skin.” 

Well, I can't vouch for those claims, but I do know from firsthand experience that Cymbopogon citratus is a perennial grass that can be grown either in the garden or as an indoor (or outdoor) potted plant. It thrives in warm weather (it does not do well in extremely cold climates), grows from two to four feet tall, and — when used as a background for other plants — can add a tropical touch to the garden. Lemongrass seldom bears seeds and is almost always propagated from a section of root. That propagation, however, is easy: The plant thrives on nothing more than a sunny spot, rich soil, and plenty of water.

Just as its name implies, lemongrass easily brews up into a delightful, lemony-flavored tea. Cut several long blades of foliage from the plant, wash them, and chop them into inch-long pieces with a pair of scissors. Then cover the bits of grass with water, bring the liquid to a boil, and steep for 10 to fifteen minutes. Or if you prefer, you can place the cut-up foliage in a heated teapot, pour boiling water into the container, and steep until the resulting tea is as strong as you want it. Sweeten the hot drink with honey, or chill the tea and serve it cold.

I’m one of the growing number of devotees who think that lemongrass tea has a never-to-be-forgotten flavor. It was the memory of a “long ago” cup of the drink, in fact, that recently made me set out to purchase a Cymbopogon citratus for my San Diego garden. Imagine my dismay when I learned that no local plant nursery offered lemongrass for sale!

“Harumph,” I harumphed. “I’ll just start visiting all my elderly Mexican friends, until I find one who still has a treasured old te-de-limon growing away in one of the back corners of his or her vegetable patch. And then, maybe, he or she will offer me a root from the plant.” 

And that’s exactly how I got my lemongrass start. You may not be as lucky as I was, though. To find lemongrass for your garden or yard, use the MOTHER EARTH NEWS Seed and Plant Finder.


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Post a comment below.

 

Cybrie
10/25/2013 3:02:06 AM
I just discovered this tea as I am visiting Ghana, west Africa. It grows wild here, and every week one of the guest house employees will bring me a new bunch of it. Lemon grass tea has a great flavor and is a great way to start your morning. As a native to southern cali I'm so happy to hear that it also grows there. I'll be able to plant some when I return home!

Aastha Mehra
10/9/2013 6:50:01 AM
Lemon grass is very healthy herb and its tea can be brewed for many health benefits. You can read more at: http://loss-of-weight-allegiance.com/lemongrass-tea-health-benefits/

Sandy Swetman
9/23/2012 1:24:43 PM
I found lemon grass at my local "Mom and Pop" nursery in Kingwood, Tx. So, being "outlawed in Texas" cannot be true. I had no idea what to do with this plant, but knew that my husband often had it in his soups when he ate at Asian restuarants. Just purchsed it this past Spring (2012) so by next Spring it should be ready to seperate. If someone finds it impossible to find, I have no problem sending you some for a small fee (shipping charges). My question is, how do you store it? Right now, I'm treating it like a herb and cutting leaves, bundeling and hanging upside down to dry. Does anyone know if this is the correct way to store?

MPHymel_2
3/29/2010 8:54:13 PM
Funny that this article should come up days after a friend and I were discussing this plant. We, or at least he was told that this plant is banned in Texas and Louisiana. Has anyone any knowledge of restrictions to this plant. Perhaps there is potential for this to become an invasive plant?? Is this plant native to marshy areas, salt marsh perhaps. That may explain the reason, if indeed it is true.

MARGALO Ashley-Farrand
3/29/2010 8:27:39 AM
Lemon grass is extremely high in Vit A. In the 1970s, before the fed. government prohibited all 25,000 IU Vit A gels (fish oil) and tablets (lemon grass), it was easily available in health food stores. High amounts of Vit A in the diet are important for good night vision and especially for cataracts, where excessive refraction uses up the Vit A too quickly, and vision decreases. In 1969, there was an article in Prevention, which was a small report from Lancet (the British medical journal) on a British study. Thanks for the info on buying lemon grass in Asian stores, as mine just died from the climate, and I need to replace it.

Ms. Swink
7/13/2009 2:07:22 AM
If you don't have luck finding lemon grass from a friend you might try looking in your nearest Asian Market. Lemon grass is sold in bunches in the produce section of these markets. Just look for a bunch that has a few stalks with root nodes at the base. Plant these in a good potting soil to get them started and then transplant when the tops get about a foot or two tall... this won't take long! Enjoy!

John Roane
8/24/2008 6:54:24 PM
I grow Thai Lemon grass in Flroida and use it for tea and cooking. It is easy to start from root cuttings, takes little work and works great as a gift when greeting new friends.








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