bee balm tea

The Medicinal Magic of Bee Balm Tea & Brewing the Perfect Cup

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Introduction

As an avid herbal tea enthusiast, I have found a delightful and aromatic addition to my tea collection—bee balm tea! Also known as Monarda sp. or wild bergamot, bee balm boasts not only a soothing and refreshing flavor but also numerous health benefits. 

I’ve experimented with two distinct methods of infusing this vibrant herb into my tea repertoire: the cold infusion and the hot infusion. Both techniques offer their unique charms, allowing me to relish the diverse subtleties of bee balm’s essence. Whether I’m seeking a cool and mellow summer sip or a comforting, warming cup during colder months, bee balm tea in both its cold and hot infusions has undoubtedly become a cherished part of my daily tea rituals.

bee balm tea

BEE BALM (MONARDA fistulosa)

Bee Balm (Monarda fistulosa), also commonly known as Wild Bergamot, is a captivating perennial herb that belongs to the mint family that is used to make what Native Americans called Oswego Tea. 

Native to North America, this beautiful plant can be identified by its striking lavender to pinkish-purple flowers. The name “Bee Balm” arises from its strong attraction to pollinators, especially bees, butterflies and hummingbirds, who are drawn to its nectar-rich blossoms. 

Bee Balm is cherished in traditional herbal practices for its diverse benefits. Its leaves and flowers emit a lovely citrusy-mint scent, perfect for crafting herbal teas and adding flavor to dishes. Bee Balm is valued for its historical significance and calming qualities, commonly employed for soothing purposes. Its cultural heritage, striking appearance, and positive effects make Bee Balm a beloved choice among nature lovers and herbal enthusiasts.

bee balm tea - bee balm tincture

WHERE TO FIND BEE BALM

Wild Bergamot (bee balm) can be found thriving in various natural habitats across North America. This resilient and enchanting perennial herb is commonly spotted gracing open meadows, prairies, and grasslands. It is also frequently found adorning the edges of woodlands, along roadsides, and in disturbed areas. Due to its adaptability, Wild Bergamot can flourish in a range of soil types, including sandy, loamy, and clay soils, making it a widespread and accessible sight in diverse landscapes. 

Whether you explore the countryside or venture into nature preserves and national parks, keep an eye out for this captivating plant, as its stunning lavender to pinkish-purple flowers and delightful aroma will undoubtedly catch your attention.

As a vital part of the ecosystem, Wild Bergamot not only adds beauty to its surroundings but also supports a myriad of pollinators, including bees and butterflies, making it a vital contributor to the biodiversity of the regions it inhabits. 

MEDICINAL USES FOR BEE BALM TEA

Bee balm tea has been valued for generations for its diverse range of uses. This herbal brew is appreciated for its potential to promote well-being. It is often enjoyed for its soothing qualities, which some find helpful for addressing discomforts like sore throats and occasional respiratory issues. Additionally, its gentle nature may offer support for digestive comfort. Many find that bee balm tea can also be a relaxing addition to their routine, contributing to a sense of calm.

As a beverage rich in antioxidants, bee balm tea is believed by some to support the body’s natural defenses against oxidative stress. It is also sometimes enjoyed for its potential to ease occasional menstrual discomfort and headaches. Whether enjoyed warm or cold, bee balm tea is a flavorful option that some individuals find beneficial for promoting a sense of balance and comfort. It’s always wise to consult with a healthcare provider before making significant changes to your wellness routine, particularly if you have existing health conditions or are taking medications.

WHAT DOES BEE BALM TEA TASTE LIKE?

Bee balm tea offers a unique and delightful taste that is often described as both refreshing and complex. The flavor profile of bee balm tea is reminiscent of a harmonious blend of citrusy and minty notes with subtle floral undertones. Some people liken its taste to a combination of bergamot (the flavor found in Earl Grey tea), mint, and a hint of oregano. The tea’s aroma is equally captivating, releasing a pleasant and aromatic fragrance that complements its taste.

The specific taste of bee balm tea can vary slightly depending on the growing conditions, the variety of bee balm used, and the brewing method employed. Generally, bee balm tea imparts a soothing and calming sensation with each sip, making it a popular choice for relaxation and enjoyment. Whether served hot or cold, bee balm tea offers a refreshing and flavorful experience, making it a cherished addition to many tea enthusiasts’ collection.

bee balm tea
Flowers can be used for bee balm tea
wild bergamot
Leaves can be used for bee balm tea

WHAT PART OF BEE BALM IS USED FOR TEA?

The leaves and flowers of the bee balm plant are used to make bee balm tea. Both parts of the plant are infused in water to create the tea. The leaves and flowers are known for their aromatic and flavorful properties, which contribute to the unique taste and fragrance of bee balm tea. 

bee balm tea - bee balm tincture

WHEN & HOW TO HARVEST BEE BALM FOR TEA

Harvesting bee balm for tea should be done at the right time and in the proper manner to ensure the best flavor and quality. Here are some guidelines on when and how to harvest bee balm for tea:

  1. Timing: The ideal time to harvest bee balm is during its peak flowering season, which typically occurs in the summer months. This is when the plant is at its most aromatic and flavorful. Aim to harvest bee balm in the morning after the dew has dried but before the heat of the day, as this is when the essential oils are most concentrated.

  2. Selecting the plant: Choose healthy bee balm plants that are free from any signs of disease or pests. Look for vibrant green leaves and fully developed flowers.

  3. Harvesting leaves: To harvest the leaves, use clean, sharp scissors or pruning shears to snip the individual leaves close to the stem. Avoid cutting too much from a single plant, as it can weaken the plant’s growth and health. Instead, take a few leaves from each plant, allowing the plant to continue thriving.

  4. Harvesting flowers: Snip the flower heads when they are in full bloom. Choose flowers that are fully open and have not yet started to wilt. As with the leaves, avoid harvesting too many flowers from one plant, and spread the harvesting across multiple plants.

With these harvesting tips, you can enjoy the delightful taste and numerous benefits of bee balm tea throughout the year. To learn more about sustainable foraging and harvesting techniques, read this: 9 Basic Principles of Ethical Wildcrafting for Beginners

bee balm tea

DRYING & STORING BEE BALM FOR TEA

  • Drying the harvest: After harvesting the leaves and flowers, gently give them a shake to remove any dirt or insects. To preserve the flavor and properties, bundle the leaves and flowers and hang them upside down in a well-ventilated, dry place. Alternatively, you can lay them out on a drying rack, or use a dehydrator on the setting for drying herbs. If using the hanging method, it typically takes 1 to 2 weeks for the bee balm to dry completely.

  • Storing: Once the bee balm leaves and flowers are thoroughly dried, store them in jars with tight-fitting lids or an airtight container away from direct sunlight. Properly dried bee balm can last for several months without losing much of its flavor or potency.

bee balm tea

Cold Infusion Bee Balm Tea

How to Make Cold Infusion Bee Balm Tea from Fresh Bee Balm:

Ingredients:

  • 2 quarts of filtered water 
  • 20 freshly picked and cleaned bee balm flower heads (can also include a small handful of leaves).

Equipment:

Preparation:

  1. Separate the flower heads from the bee balm stems, and discard stems. Wash the bee balm flowers gently to remove any dirt or impurities.
  2. Take a large glass jar or pitcher and pour the filtered water into it.
  3. Add the flowers to the water. Optionally, you can also include some bee balm leaves for added flavor.
  4. Give the mixture a good stir, ensuring the bee balm is evenly distributed in the water.
  5. Cover the jar or pitcher, and place it in the refrigerator to cold-infuse for up to 24 hours. For a more potent infusion, you can occasionally shake the jar to help release the flavors.
  6. After the cold infusion period, take the jar out of the refrigerator and strain the tea using either cheesecloth, fine mesh strainer or a coffee filter to remove any plant material.
  7. Transfer the strained bee balm tea into a clean container and keep it chilled until you’re ready to enjoy it.
  8. Your homemade bee balm tea is now ready to be enjoyed! Pour it into a glass, and take pleasure in its pretty appearance and delicious taste.

With this simple cold infusion method, you can revel in the benefits of bee balm tea, which has been treasured for centuries for its soothing effects on digestion, calming properties for the nerves, and its traditional use in alleviating colds and flu.

bee balm tea

HOT INFUSION TEA Bee Balm Tea

To make a hot infusion of bee balm tea using fresh or dried bee balm, follow these simple instructions:

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp Fresh bee balm leaves and flowers OR 1 tsp dried bee balm leaves and flowers 
  • Water

Equipment:

  • Teapot or heat-resistant container with a lid
  • Tea strainer or infuser (if using loose bee balm leaves and flowers)

Instructions:

  1. Measure the Bee Balm: For a standard cup of tea, use approximately 1 tablespoon of fresh bee balm leaves and flowers, or 1 teaspoon of dried bee balm leaves and flowers. You can adjust the amount according to your taste preference and the strength of the tea you desire.
  2. Boil the Water: Bring fresh, filtered water to a rolling boil in a kettle or a pot.
  3. Add the Bee Balm: Place the fresh or dried bee balm leaves and flowers in a heatproof container, or tea infuser inside a tea cup.
  4. Pour the Water: Carefully pour the hot water over the bee balm.
  5. Steep the Tea:  Let the tea steep for about 5 to 7 minutes. Adjust the steeping time according to your taste preference; a longer steeping time will result in a stronger flavor.
  6. Strain the Tea: If using loose bee balm leaves and flowers, strain the tea as you pour it into your teacup. If you used a tea strainer or infuser to hold the bee balm during steeping, you can now remove it.
  7. Serve and Enjoy: Your hot bee balm tea is now ready to be savored. You can enjoy it as is or add sweeteners like honey or a slice of lemon to enhance the flavor further.
  • Note: Bee balm tea is caffeine-free and considered safe for most people. However, if you have allergies or are pregnant or nursing, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional or clinical herbalist before consuming bee balm tea regularly.

If you don’t have access to local or homegrown herbs, I highly recommend purchasing them from Mountain Rose Herbs. They are my favorite place to buy high-quality, organic dried herbs and herbal products. As a company they believe in people, plants, and planet over profit and only ever source their herbs ethically and sustainably. It is through this ethical, responsible sourcing, that they are able to offer one of the largest selections of certified organic herbs, spices, and botanicals in North America.

Disclaimer:

The Outdoor Apotheca website is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for professional medical advice. The information provided is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. While we strive to provide accurate and up-to-date information, it is the reader’s responsibility to ensure proper plant identification and usage.

Please be aware that some plants are poisonous or can have serious adverse health effects. We are not health professionals, medical doctors, or nutritionists. It is essential to consult with qualified professionals for verification of nutritional information, health benefits, and any potential risks associated with edible and medicinal plants mentioned on this website.

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