Oolong Ginger Lemon Basil Tea Recipe
Oolong Ginger Lemon Basil Tea
Temperatures have dropped again, flu season is in full force, and I have some leftover microcrops on my hands. How can I be mindful of my health, use dried greens, and stave off spring fever all at once?
Brewing a homemade tea blend that utilizes the properties of basil and infused with earthy flavors seemed like a simple and delicious option. Using as many local ingredients as possible, I was able to make homemade oolong ginger micro-lemon basil tea with minimal effort and numerous benefits.
Basil, King of Herbs
Basil has long held a special place in the spice and herbal medicine cabinet. With 40 varieties, basil is a versatile green that goes with most savory and sweet cuisines. At the Coeur et Sol homestead I have been growing micro lemon basil for a few months. The surprisingly bright flavors of the sprout and delicate texture have quickly made it one of my favorite microcrops.
One of the best thing about growing microgreens is the access to so many essential vitamins and minerals. Micro lemon basil provides moderate levels of beta-carotene and high levels of vitamin K, both renowned for their anti-inflammatory properties. The vitamin K is also essential for strengthening the regulating clotting in the blood through mineralization.
The potassium, manganese, and iron in basil all help regulate heart function and red blood cell health. Like other herbs in the mint family, micro Lemon basil contains essential oils rich in camphor (antimicrobial) and linalool (stress reduction).
Each basil leaf also contains exceptionally high levels of beta-carotene, vitamin-A, cryptoxanthin, lutein, and zeaxanthin. These compounds have been to known to protect against oxygen-derived free radicals and reactive oxygen species, which play an important role in the mutation of diseases and aging. The vitamin A helps maintain healthy vision, mucosa, and skin while reducing your chances of oral cancers.
The enzyme-inhibiting effect of the eugenol found in basil leaves make them a natural remedy for inflammatory health problems such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and inflammatory bowel conditions. Similarly, basil is known to have anti-infective functions that inhibit pathogenic bacteria like Staphylococcus, Enterococci, Shigella and Pseudomonas.
While basil can be served in pretty much any dish, the tradition of basil tea seemed like a fitting recipe for the season. With the seemingly endless immediate and long term potential effects, I had to brew some at home ASAP.
Making My Mug
I purchased loose oolong from The Tea Store in Montclair. The boutique cafe is a new addition to Watchung Avenue with an "...extensive list of luxury teas, baked goods, UK-imported biscuits, and local honey." Their wide selection and knowledgeable baristas helped me find the perfect blend for this recipe. The Tea Store staff recommended Pursuit of Tea Oolong for the currents of lilac that give the dense tea a soft and flowery scent.
Since I couldn't get all local produce, I went to Whole Foods for the ginger and lemon, grown in CA and FL respectively.
The raw honey used to sweeten the tea is from Axe and Root Homestead. The family farm situated in Whitehouse Station, NJ is an eclectic farm offering carefully crafted products sourced on site, from duck eggs to hand soaps. And, of course, incredible raw honey from their beehives. Apiary is not only crucial to ecological health, the combs organically harvested by Axe and Root produce a nectar as naturally intoxicating as a bush of honeysuckle. Their homestead never ceases to be a source of inspiration for my future farming goals.
Lemon basil microgreens grown on site by moi at the Coeur et Sol homestead in East Orange, NJ. You can definitely use fresh micro-basil for this, if you have any on hand. I was inspired by my leftover harvest and eager to upcycle them. You don't get as many of the oil benefits from the dried basil, but the fragrance, flavor, and other herbal properties are the same, just less concentrated. One tablespoon of dried basil still provides 43% of DV of vitamin K, 2% of vitamin C, and contains about 33 mg of omega-3 fatty acids. While about a 3rd as potent, they fit a lot into one cup of tea. The younger the dried basil, the more nutrients it will have retained.
Sweet toothed tea drinkers who want candied lemon should start them early in the day so they will be dry when you're pouring your cup. It may look fancy and intimidating, but trust me, it's a simple trick and a great way to add subtle sweetness to cut the robust ginger flavor.
If you are worried about acidity, you can halve the amount of lemon, but I recommend you don't substitute lemons with the lemon basil. Despite its distinctive citrus aroma, micro lemon basil is an herb and tea a beverage that should be complemented with fresh lemon. And, in this recipe, the fresh citrus really brightens the woody notes.
BYOT (Brew Your Own Tea)
Oolong Ginger Lemon Basil Tea Recipe
- Four cups hot water
- 4 tbsp. loose oolong tea
- 4 pieces of 2 in. fresh, raw ginger
- 6-8 2in. lemon peels (raw and candied*)
- 1 oz dried lemon basil microgreens
Harvest dried basil microgreens and shred with hands or chop in a food processor. Set aside. Remove a portion of lemon rind and julienne. Peel and thinly slice ginger. Boil for at least 10 minutes, 20 for tangier tea. Reduce to simmer. Remove ginger from water. Place oolong, basil, and rinds in water. Steep for 3-4 minutes. Strain tea. Serve in mugs with raw honey and fresh/candied lemon to taste.
*Candied Lemon Rinds
- 3 cups water
- 6-8 lemon peels, 2 in. sliced
- 2 cups sugar
Cover peels with 1 cup water in a pan. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 minute. Drain and repeat 2x. Combine 2 cups cold water with 2 cups sugar. Bring to a boil. Add peels and simmer on low for 1 hour. Remove peels and roll in sugar on a baking sheet to coat. Dry on cooling rack for 3-5 hours at room temp, 1 hour in the refrigerator. Place in tea or eat while drinking.
All that's left to do is grab your cup and look out for the promise of spring through the winter fog softening the sharp shadows of empty branches painting the window.
There is a natural need to surrender to the serenity of winter, and a peace to be cherished in the time between the leaves. I hope small gifts, even a quick cup of tea, can help keep your hearts open and warm this season.