How to Dry Lemon Balm for Tea: A Comprehensive Guide

MA Hemal

Lemon balm, a fragrant herb from the mint family, is cherished for its soothing properties and delightful citrus aroma. It’s a popular ingredient in teas, known for its ability to promote relaxation and alleviate stress. If you grow lemon balm in your garden, you might want to preserve its leaves for year-round use. Drying lemon balm is an excellent way to ensure you have a steady supply of your tea. In this guide, we will delve into how to dry lemon balm for tea, covering various methods and tips to retain its flavor and potency.

Why Dry Lemon Balm for Tea?

Before we explore how to dry lemon balm for tea, it’s important to understand why you might want to do so. Fresh lemon balm has a short shelf life, but dried lemon balm can be stored for months, allowing you to enjoy its benefits long after the growing season ends. Drying the herb concentrates its flavors, making it a potent addition to your teas. Plus, it’s easy and requires minimal equipment.

Harvesting Lemon Balm

The first step in learning how to dry lemon balm for tea is proper harvesting. The best time to harvest lemon balm is in the morning after the dew has dried but before the sun is too hot. This timing helps preserve the essential oils that give lemon balm its distinctive flavor and aroma.

Steps to Harvest Lemon Balm:

  1. Identify the Right Leaves: Look for healthy, vibrant leaves free from discoloration or damage.
  2. Use Clean Tools: Use a sharp pair of scissors or garden shears to avoid crushing the stems.
  3. Cut Above a Leaf Node: Cut the stems about 4-6 inches above a leaf node to encourage regrowth.

Methods for Drying Lemon Balm

There are several methods to dry lemon balm, each with its own set of advantages. Here are the most popular techniques:

Air Drying

Air drying is a traditional and straightforward method to dry lemon balm for tea. It requires minimal equipment and preserves the herb’s essential oils well.

Steps for Air Drying:

  1. Bundle the Stems: Gather several stems together and tie them with a string or rubber band.
  2. Hang Upside Down: Hang the bundles upside down in a warm, dry, and dark place with good air circulation.
  3. Wait and Check: It usually takes 1-2 weeks for the leaves to dry completely. Check periodically for dryness.

Oven Drying

Oven drying is quicker than air drying and useful if you need to dry lemon balm in a short time.

Steps for Oven Drying:

  1. Preheat the Oven: Set your oven to the lowest temperature (around 140°F or 60°C).
  2. Prepare the Leaves: Spread the lemon balm leaves in a single layer on a baking sheet.
  3. Dry in the Oven: Place the baking sheet in the oven with the door slightly ajar to allow moisture to escape. Check every 10-15 minutes until the leaves are dry.

Dehydrator Drying

Using a food dehydrator is an efficient and controlled way to dry lemon balm for tea.

Steps for Dehydrator Drying:

  1. Arrange the Leaves: Place the lemon balm leaves on the dehydrator trays in a single layer.
  2. Set the Temperature: Set the dehydrator to around 95°F to 115°F (35°C to 46°C).
  3. Drying Time: Dry for about 1-4 hours, checking periodically. The leaves should be crisp and dry.

Storing Dried Lemon Balm

Once you have successfully dried lemon balm for tea, proper storage is crucial to maintain its flavor and potency.

Storage Tips:

  1. Use Airtight Containers: Store the dried leaves in airtight containers, such as glass jars with tight-fitting lids.
  2. Keep in a Cool, Dark Place: Store the containers in a cool, dark cupboard away from direct sunlight and heat.
  3. Label and Date: Label the containers with the name and date of drying to keep track of freshness.

Making Tea with Dried Lemon Balm

Now that you know how to dry lemon balm for tea, let’s discuss how to use it to make a soothing cup of tea.

Steps to Brew Lemon Balm Tea:

  1. Measure the Leaves: Use about 1 teaspoon of dried lemon balm per cup of tea.
  2. Boil Water: Bring fresh water to a boil.
  3. Steep the Leaves: Pour the hot water over the dried leaves and let steep for about 5-10 minutes.
  4. Strain and Enjoy: Strain the leaves and enjoy your aromatic lemon balm tea.

Benefits of Lemon Balm Tea

Lemon balm tea is not only delicious but also offers several health benefits. It is known for its calming effects, which can help reduce anxiety and promote sleep. Additionally, lemon balm tea has been used for centuries to aid digestion, reduce stress, and even improve cognitive function.

Health Benefits of Lemon Balm Tea:

  1. Reduces Anxiety and Stress: Lemon balm is known for its calming properties, making it an excellent choice for those looking to unwind after a stressful day.
  2. Improves Sleep: Drinking lemon balm tea before bedtime can help improve sleep quality and duration.
  3. Aids Digestion: Lemon balm can help alleviate digestive issues such as bloating, gas, and cramps.
  4. Boosts Cognitive Function: Some studies suggest that lemon balm can enhance memory and concentration.
  5. Antioxidant Properties: Lemon balm contains antioxidants that can help protect your cells from damage caused by free radicals.

Tips for the Best Results

To ensure you get the most out of your dried lemon balm for tea, consider these additional tips:

  1. Harvest Before Flowering: For the best flavor and potency, harvest your lemon balm before the plant flowers. This is when the essential oils are most concentrated.
  2. Avoid Over-Drying: Over-drying can cause the leaves to lose their flavor and beneficial properties. Check the leaves regularly during the drying process.
  3. Use Fresh Water: Always use fresh, cold water for brewing tea. The quality of water can significantly affect the taste of your tea.
  4. Experiment with Blends: Lemon balm pairs well with other herbs such as chamomile, mint, and lavender. Experiment with different blends to find your perfect cup of tea.


Learning how to dry lemon balm for tea is a valuable skill for any herb enthusiast. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can enjoy the delightful aroma and soothing benefits of lemon balm tea all year round. Whether you choose to air dry, oven dry, or use a dehydrator, the key is to preserve the essential oils and flavors of the herb. Proper storage ensures that your dried lemon balm remains fresh and potent, ready to provide comfort and relaxation whenever you need it.

With its myriad health benefits and delightful taste, lemon balm tea is a wonderful addition to your herbal tea collection. So, take the time to harvest and dry your lemon balm correctly, and enjoy the calming and healing properties of this remarkable herb.

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