One day I went to visit Eva and Wim. Eva offered me a glass of tea that she poured from a blue water bottle. The tea was light and refreshing, perfect for a hot summer day. So I asked Eva what kind of tea it was. She said “louiza” and that she had gotten the leaves from a neighbor’s bush. “Louiza”( λουίζα) is Greek for “verbena”.
Of course, I had to have a plant for my terrace. Lemon verbena is a perennial shrub so it can last forever. It’s also very laid back and easy to grow.
Aside from the great taste and fragrance, verbena has many health benefits. It is good for digestive problems, relaxes, and soothes the nerves.
Verbena is also used in cooking and is good with fish and poultry. It has a light lemony taste and can be used to flavour oil and vinegar, as well.
Verbena tea can be used to make ice cubes for lemonade. To make the tea, well, I just fake it. Basically, I boil some water and dump in some leaves, let them steep for awhile. However, if you don’t feel like faking it, too, there are a lot of instructions on internet.
My plant produces a lot of leaves so I pick them and let them dry out then put them in a jar. That way, when I go back to Rome, I can take my Tea Made On Paros and enjoy it all year long.
In Australia when 2 people think of the same thing at the same time we used to say “Captain Cook!” and shake on our pinkie fingers. My lemon verbena sits dried in a bowl on my bench for a quick cuppa. I also love it with dried ginger. When the first Greek immigrants arrived in Australia in the 50’s they brought the most beautiful pure olive oil and verbena soap in gigantic blocks. It was perfect for washing hair but I have only found it once in a Turkish supermarket since then. Lemon verbena also nice thrown into the bath and great for repelling mozzies.
Captain Cook! Thanks for the info re: ginger…would ginger powder do as well? Very interesting info regarding Greeks bringing along verbena soap with them–will have to do some research esp. re: how to use verbena as a shampoo. Jo, you always have such fun info to share. Thanks!