A Quick and Easy Guide To Lemon Myrtle Tea

Updated: Nov 2, 2021

Lemon myrtle has been used as indigenous bush medicine and flavouring for thousands of years. This Aussie superfood of the bush and queen of the lemon herbs has multiple health benefits and will take you on a sensory journey with its magical citrus-sweet flavour.

A cup of lemon myrtle and chamomile tea with fresh lemons and two teaspoons.
A soothing blend of fresh lemon myrtle leaves, chamomile, and fresh lemon.

In this quick and easy guide to lemon myrtle, you will learn:






What is lemon myrtle, and where does it come from?

This Down Under native is one of the healthiest and most beloved Australian herbs. The Backhousia citriodora, commonly known as lemon myrtle, is a flowering plant in the Myrtaceae family, genus Backhousia. Unique and endemic to Australia, it grows in the subtropical rainforests of central and south-eastern Queensland.


Known throughout Australia and the world, the lemon myrtle often goes by a few different names: sweet verbena, lemon ironwood, lemon-scented ironwood, sweet verbena myrtle, and lemon-scented backhousia. Famous for its distinctly fresh and robust lemony aroma, this beautiful herb has a nice and subtle sweetness to it.


 Cluster of creamy white lemon myrtle flowers in the foreground with a cluster of buds and leaves in the background.
The fluffy white flowers and lemon-scented leaves of the lemon myrtle tree

The lemon myrtle tree can grow to an incredible height of about 20 meters. Its leaves are evergreen, with cute tiny white flowers blooming from summer to autumn, producing a spectacularly delicate lemon scent. The size of the lemon myrtle tree and thick dark green foliage make it the perfect choice for hedges and screens.


The leaves of the lemon myrtle tree are harvested for their aromatic essential oils, citrus-sweet flavour, and excellent health and wellbeing benefits. Its secret lies in citral, the chemical component that gives lemons, lemongrass, and lemon myrtle their wonderful lemony scent.



What are lemon myrtle's key benefits?

Lemon myrtle is exceptionally rich in calcium and antioxidants, lutein, vitamin E, zinc, and magnesium. Due to its high citral content, this versatile herb has antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties superior to the popular tea tree oil. It is often used as a natural food preservative, antiseptic, surface disinfectant, and in the control of diseases in fruits and vegetables.


Essential oils

There are two oils extracted from lemon myrtle: 'citral' used for aromatic materials and flavourings, and 'citronellal' used as a base to make natural insects repellents. Now you know the origin of the good old citronella.


Medicinal properties

Lemon myrtle and its potent citral formulation contain powerful antimicrobials, well-known agents that kill microorganisms or stop their growth. These properties are commonly associated with health benefits and help the immune system, improve concentration, acne, oral health, and certain viral infections.


Lemon Myrtle has been found to have the following benefits:

  1. Acts as an aid for indigestion and irritable gastrointestinal disorders

  2. Reduce and clear cold sores

  3. Provides relief when you are suffering from a headache

  4. Reduces inflammation caused by insect bites

  5. Act as an insect repellent when added to any lotion

  6. Promotes peaceful sleep for those who struggle at night time

  7. It helps to get rid of body odour and bad breath

  8. Treats cuts and wounds by destroying bacteria to stop them from spreading

Indigenous cultures

Indigenous Australians have used lemon myrtle to flavour fish dishes, wrapping them in paperbark parcels to seal all the flavours while cooking in hot coals. They also use crushed leaves to alleviate headaches by inhaling the scent.



Unique Facts About Lemon Myrtle

  • Indigenous Australians have used lemon myrtle for more than 40,000 years for a wide range of purposes. From bush medicine to food flavouring, it provides much-needed hydration, nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. The leaves can be burnt to release their insect-repelling properties or turned into a paste that can be rubbed into sores.

  • It is the best natural source of citral. Its leaves contain the highest amount of citral (>90%) of any plant known in the world, a whopping seven times more than lemongrass. It's no wonder lemon myrtle's flavour and aroma show refreshingly intense citrus notes often described as lemonier than lemon.

  • During WWII, lemon shortages in Australia resulted in the use of lemon myrtle as a lemon substitute in lemonade made by a soft drink brand, Tarax. However, the use of lemon myrtle declined due to overharvesting, and it was replaced by other citrus-rich plants such as lemongrass.


How to make lemon myrtle tea from fresh leaves?

Lemon myrtle tea is, in fact, a tisane or herbal infusion, not tea. Authentic 'tea' is anything produced from the leaves and buds of the Camellia Sinensis plant; everything else is a tisane or a dried herb. Back to lemon myrtle - there are many ways you can prepare your tea; it will depend if you use fresh or dried leaves lemon myrtle leaves.




Fresh lemon myrtle leaves

You can dehydrate the leaves for a more intense flavour or use them fresh. If dehydrating, you can dry them out in the oven or using a professional dehydrating machine. If you are using fresh leaves, make sure to give them a good wash (or even a scrub) to ensure there are no spiderwebs or any other little animals left behind.


Hot lemon myrtle tea

Ingredients:

  • 8-10 fresh lemon myrtle leaves

  • 2 cups of water

  • Lemon or lime slices (optional)

  • Mint (optional)

Makes two servings.


Instructions

  1. Bring water to a gentle boil.

  2. Add the fresh lemon myrtle leaves to a teapot or infuser.

  3. Add the hot water and let it steep for 5-7 minutes,

  4. Strain the tea and serve.

  5. Add the lemon/lime slices and garnish with mint.


Lemon myrtle iced tea

Ice cold lemon myrtle tea is delicious and refreshing, the perfect drink for a hot summer day. Use the same ingredients and recipe from the hot brew above, but rather than drinking it straight away, let it cool down and refrigerate for a minimum of 3-4 hours.


Once cooled, add ice (crushed or regular blocks) for extra chill. Add some fresh fruits, lime, or mint to jazz it up a little. You can also be extra playful and add apple juice for a little more complex flavour and aroma.


Other recipes

If you are feeling adventurous, we recommend trying lemon myrtle in your cooking. Why not start with a lemon myrtle syrup? This fantastic lemon myrtle cheesecake is also worth a try! Yum.



How to blend lemon myrtle with other herbs and teas?

Lemon myrtle is a versatile herb that goes well with many ingredients; it can be blended with several different herbs and teas.


Blending lemon myrtle with black and green tea


Lemon myrtle goes well with both black and green teas. Given its full flavour and aroma, just a small quantity will be sufficient to add a bit of a citrus zing to your tea.


We recommend blending lemon myrtle with:


Instructions

  1. Bring water to a gentle boil.

  2. Mix 2 teaspoons of your favourite green or black tea with a ¼ of a teaspoon of lemon myrtle.

  3. Add your blend to a teapot or infuser.

  4. Add the hot water and let it steep for 3-4 minutes,

  5. Strain the tea and serve.

Enjoy the unique citrus-sweet flavour of your homemade lemon myrtle tea!



Blending lemon myrtle with other herbs


If you are after a caffeine-free herbal tea, lemon myrtle is the perfect alternative. It blends particularly well with lemongrass and ginger, creating an incredibly zesty and refreshing tea. This unique combination is trendy, and one of our best-selling teas, When Life Gives You Lemons, is just the perfect mix of these incredible herbs.


Below are a couple of lemon myrtle herbal blends that you can explore and enjoy throughout the day. The proportions are a suggestion and not set in stone; experiment a little and develop your variations.


Start with two teaspoons of lemongrass and add:

  1. ¼ of a teaspoon of lemon myrtle, or

  2. ¼ of a teaspoon of lemon myrtle + ¼ of a teaspoon of rose, or

  3. ¼ of a teaspoon of lemon myrtle + ¼ of a teaspoon of fennel seeds + sprinkle of liquorice

Start with two teaspoons of peppermint and add:

  1. ¼ of a teaspoon of lemon myrtle, or

  2. ¼ of a teaspoon of lemon myrtle + ¼ of a teaspoon of orange segments, or

  3. ¼ of a teaspoon of lemon myrtle + ¼ of a teaspoon of hibiscus



Key takeaways

Lemon myrtle, the Australian bush hero, is an incredibly versatile herb full of flavour and aroma. It has been around for centuries and is well known for its excellent health and culinary benefits.


It blends incredibly well with green tea, black tea, and a variety of herbal ingredients adding a unique citrusy flavour to any drink without the tartiness of lemons. Lemon myrtle tea can be brewed from fresh or dehydrated leaves and enjoyed hot or ice cold.


Now it's over to you; how are you going to enjoy your lemon myrtle? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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