WILDFLOWER LEMONADE COLD & FLU TONIC
Wildflowers. Makes you think of spring, eh? Well, actually, you can have your pink lemonade (and drink it too) in late summer/early fall. In fact, this shockingly pastel sipper is a cold & flu tonic.
Surprise! It's delicious cold prevention time! This prettily jarred drink was designed by my sweet and spicy friend Chelsea Wakstein (@chelseawak). She's sly and wry and pleasing to the eye. And she's sweet as pie! RHYMES WIN! Anyway...
When Chelsea stopped by for a picnic a couple of weeks ago, she just so happened to have this packed with her. No big deal. Just a bee balm and lemon verbena tea sweetened with maple syrup and magic. Lightly tangy and softly sweet, this drink is packed with awesome-for-you herbal qualities that just so happen to relieve dreaded sniffly season symptoms. Bee balm grows afro-style blossoms in come-hither magenta sprays. Lightly spicy in taste and aroma, bee balm is anti-microbial, anti-fungal, anti-spasmodic, and relaxes the nervous system. It's also carminative (it helps release built up gas). It's traditionally used to treat flu & cold symptoms, but is also used to combat common internal infections (UTI's, etc.), topical fungal infections, and digestive discomfort.
Bee balm is considered by herbalists to be "diffusive." This is what makes it so great for colds & the flu. What that means is, bee balm helps to take all of the heat built up in the core of the body and diffuse that energy out through the limbs and out of the skin. I know, that seems quite odd and even hard to grasp. I've heard the best way to understand bee balms diffusive nature is simply to drink a hot cup of bee balm tea and feel the heat disperse and release from your system. It is very cooling. I would consider it a great tea for those folks who regularly overheat, as well.
Lemon verbena has similar properties, and such a tangy, delicious flavor. I find the aroma sweet and floral, and the leaf wryly green, tart. Lemon verbena is considered a cooling herb, and is a great every day tonic for stress relief and mood elevation. It is also a digestive aid, which makes it perfect for relieving flu symptoms. It suppresses nausea, and alleviates the digestive tract spasms that cause vomiting and diarrhea.
Now that I've mentioned all of the unmentionables regarding sickness, the recipe!
This drink is very lightly sweet, and is actually a great pallet cleanser between courses. But I am all for adding more maple syrup to make this drink an all-out sweet lemonade suitable for all ages. It's an eye-pleaser at pot-lucks and dinner parties; the best part is that you get to make your guests feel healthy and wonderful and its all a flamingo-tinged hostess secret!
1 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tsp fresh bee balm, tightly packed
2 tsp roselle thai hibiscus
1/2 cup fresh lemon verbena, tightly packed
1/2 cup maple syrup
4 cups water
ice, to serve
Boil 1 cup water, and pour over bee balm and lemon verbena in a gallon mason jar. Let steep at least 20 minutes.
Pour lemon juice, maple syrup, and the rest of the water over the tea. Stir to combine. You can strain out the herbs here if you like. I prefer to keep them in so that the good medicine keeps seeping into the lemonade.
Serve with ice.
I love this lemonade with bee balm and lemon verbena, but definitely play with it! What kind of herbs would you throw into this tasty tonic?
Edit: I made some corrections to the original recipe, as Chelsea added roselle thai hibiscus and used less bee balm than I realized. Bee balm is very strong. Also, if you are having trouble finding bee balm, you can find it dried on etsy via Botanical Lampshades.