Sure, I swoon over summer basil just like everyone else, but the herb that has my heart and soul is lemon verbena. Each year, I buy more lemon verbena plants than the last, squeezing them into window boxes between the geraniums and tucking them next to tomato plants in my small container garden. And each year, I pick, pluck, and trim the stems several times throughout the summer to dry for herbal tea through the winter because I simply can’t get enough of the soothing, floral, lemony flavor.
Drying lemon verbena is easy because the leaves are already pretty dry compared to other herbs like mint or basil. Simply spread the washed and dried sprigs on a baking sheet or in a basket (line with parchment paper, if desired), turn once or twice, then, two or three days later, pack loosely into an airtight container. Then to make tea, place a handful of sprigs in a teapot, cover with boiling water, and let steep 3 minutes. I like my tea sweetened with honey, but it’s also good plain, hot or cold.