How to grow and make lemon blossom tea
In this article you’ll learn how to make simple and delicious lemon blossom tea — which we highly encourage you to do using your own homegrown organic lemon trees! – Courtesy of Tyrant Farms.
Using all parts of your citrus to the fullest
When you work your tail off to grow your own citrus, you’re also less inclined to waste any part of the resulting produce.
We eat some varieties like kumquats, limequats, and calamondins skin and all. Zero waste.
As we’ve also written about, the zest of other citrus (such as blood oranges, Meyer lemons, and Makrut limes) makes an amazingly delicious addition to countless foods and beverages. Nothing brightens a salad or piece of fish like fresh lemon or orange zest.
But what about citrus flowers? How do you harvest or use them?
Citrus blossoms (like these Meyer lemon blossoms) have lots of culinary applications, even though many people who grow citrus don’t think to use them.
How to harvest and use citrus flowers
It’s important to note that citrus trees produce an enormous number of flowers. In fact, only about 0.1 – 3% of citrus flowers end up developing into mature fruit.
However, when harvesting citrus flowers, if you pull entire flowers off of your citrus plants, you’ll reduce fruit production. What to do?
Is there a way to harvest citrus flowers and still get fruit? Yes!
Step 1: Monitor your citrus blossom development and know when the blossoms are ready
Citrus flowers progress through various stages of development. They won’t be ready to harvest until after they’ve been open for 1-2 days and have either set or not set.
The picture below shows citrus flowers at various stages of maturity.
Here you can see lemon blossoms at various stages of development, including: (right) flowers that have just finished setting fruit and dropped their petals; (center) blossoms that are still dropping their blossoms; (left) newly opened blossoms; (top and bottom left) unopened flowers.
We should also say that there might not be a better smell on earth than citrus trees in bloom — it’s intoxicating!
Step 2: Place towel or old bed sheet under plants and shake trees
When there are flowers on your citrus plant at the stage of development to harvest, place a towel or old bed sheet under the plants.
An old bath towel repurposed for a lemon blossom harvester! This young Meyer lemon tree has flowers far enough along in development to begin harvesting.
Then give each branch a gentle shake or thump, depending on the size of the branch.
Unset flowers or individual petals from flowers that did set fruit will fall onto the towel, making them easy to harvest while keeping them clean.
Unset lemon flowers and pieces of petals and anthers scattered on a harvesting towel.
Step 3: Collect, use, dry and store citrus blossoms
Gather the flowers and petals and bring them indoors. You can use them immediately to make teas, garnishes, added to salads, etc.
You can also dry them on a cookie sheet for about a week before storing them in jars or bags to use throughout the year.
How to make lemon blossom tea
Perhaps our favorite thing to do with fresh lemon blossoms is to make lemon blossom tea. (You can also make it with dried lemon blossoms.)
Lemon blossom tea is wonderfully fragrant, and tastes almost exactly like the flowers smell, but with a slight bitter note.
Here’s how to make the perfect cup of lemon blossom tea:
1. Bring water to near boil.
2. Put 1 heaping tablespoon of fresh lemon blossoms (or 1 level tablespoon of dried lemon blossoms) into container and pour 1 cup heated water over top of blossoms.
3. Allow to steep for 5 minutes. Any longer and the petals/blossoms will begin to impart more bitter flavor than you’ll probably like.
4. Strain into tea cup, sweeten to taste, and enjoy!
Pour through strainer to remove lemon blossoms from tea.
And, yes, this basic recipe works for any type of citrus flower, each of which offers its own unique flavor. Happy sipping!