Herbs are not only great for warming winter teas, but also for cooling summer drinks. There are many herbs that can be used in this way, but some of my favourite are lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), lemon grass (Cymbopogan citratus) and lemon and lime verbena (Aloysia species); mints (Mentha species) such as peppermint, apple mint, chocolate mint, ginger mint and spearmint. Also the unrelated calamint (Calamintha nepeta) and bergamot (Monarda didyma). And you can add the flowers too, either as part of the original ‘tea’ or as a garnish at the end.
Most are easy to grow, and plants such as mint will spread rapidly from underground runners, so are best grown in pots. This stops them from taking over the garden. All these herbs prefer a humus-rich soil, reasonable drainage and sunny to semi-shaded conditions.
The ingredients for sparkling herb drinks are simple and easy to find as long as you have a bunch of herbs.
Sparkling herb drink
Bunch of fresh herb leaves
500ml of water
2 tablespoons honey
Juice of 1 lemon
1 litre soda water
Sprigs of the herb used
1. Roughly chop the herb leaves.
2. Boil the water, place the leaves in the bottom of a bowl and pour the boiling water over the top. Cover and leave to stand for 5 minutes.
3. Stir in the honey and leave to cool. Strain into a large jug and chill.
4. Just before serving add the lemon juice, soda water and ice cubes. Serve in individual long glasses and garnish each with a sprig of leaves and/or flowers of the herb used.
By: Penny Woodward
First published: November 2017