Day 2: Drink a Flavored Ice Tea

On this very full day, I could not have drawn a better activity for Day 2 of the Summer Hygge Challenge. I selected this slip of paper:

Drink a Flavored Iced Tea

As a gardener with many fresh herbs available, I knew I’d be crafting my own flavored iced tea. I happen to be writing a health blog post this evening on the versatile bee balm plant. I chose to bring a little ease into my busy day and let this herb pull double duty. I’m grateful I made that decision.

Day 2 Drink a Flavored Iced Tea

You can read about bee balm and its culinary and health benefits HERE.

For this blog post, I simply had to create a cold tea to enjoy while I prepped a quick, healthy dinner.

I gathered two sprigs of bee balm from my garden, where the plant is in full glorious bloom. I patiently waited for a bumblebee to dart to another flower before clipping the one I wanted for my tea. I have an abundance of bee balm growing, so the happy bee had plenty of bright pink blooms to visit.

Day 2 Drink a Flavored Iced Tea

Day 2 Drink a Flavored Iced Tea

I added boiling water to the leaves and flowers, covered the mug, and let the tea steep while I considered what to combine with this fragrant herb. Bee balm is a member of the mint family although it’s scent and flavor are distinctly oregano-like. Citrus fruits pair well with bee balm. After steeping for 20 minutes, I poured the tea into a 16 oz mason jar and added the juice of half a lime.

I let the tea chill in the fridge while I cooked a veggie dinner.

Later, for a splash of color, and a hint of sweetness, I added several freshly sliced strawberries. Ice cubes followed, and my flavored iced tea, made up as I went along, was ready.

I enjoyed my creation with dinner. The earthy bee balm tea, combined with tangy lime juice and sweet juicy strawberries, was very flavorful and incredibly refreshing. I sipped on the iced tea and when it was gone, I ate the leftover chunks of strawberries.

This tea could become a summertime favorite!

Day 2 Drink a Flavored Iced Tea

Journey 195: Bee Balm

Today I added a plant to my herb garden. I have a mental list of plants that I am on the lookout for, primarily herbs that can be dried and used in all kinds of helpful and interesting concoctions. Earlier this year I found Calendula seeds and now have that herb with its dark yellow blooms growing in the large black kettle. Recently I found the Bee Balm plant and I am so excited to include it in the garden.

bee balm

Bee Balm is a member of the mint family, along with lavender and basil. All three are beneficial for attracting butterflies, bees and hummingbirds. They produce richly scented blooms and leaves, which can be used for teas when dried. I have basil and lavender in the herb, or apothecary, garden. But I had not found the Bee Balm plant yet.

Also known as wild bergamot and horsemint, Bee Balm is a perennial, native to North American. It typically has wonderfully scented pink, red or light purple blooms on a compact, bushy plant. As my plant doesn’t have blooms yet, I’ll be delightfully surprised by the color.

bee balm 2

Here are some of the uses for Bee Balm:

  • The scent is a natural mosquito repellent, especially when the leaves are crushed to release the oils.
  • It is a soothing skin tonic for dry, itching or sunburned skin. (Boil 1 C of leaves and blooms in 4 C of water for 10 minutes. Let cool and strain. Used on skin or add to bath)
  • Brew as a tea. Bee Balm has a flavor reminiscent of bergamot oranges. The tea has antiseptic qualities, and contains vitamins A and C, making it an excellent soother of sore throats and cold symptoms. The tea is also great for digestive problems, headache and fever. (Brew ¼ C of fresh leaves or 2 t of dried leaves in 1 C of hot water)
  • The antiseptic action of Bee Balm also makes it great for poultices, and as a wash for skin infections and minor wounds. Rinsing the mouth with the tea combats gingivitis, mouth sores and throat infections.
  • The blooms are edible, and somewhat spicy. Add to salads or sandwiches.
  • And, planted near tomatoes, Bee Balm improves the growth and flavor of the tomatoes.

I am excited to include this versatile plant to my collection. I’m looking forward to harvesting and drying leaves and blooms, and creating teas and tinctures. In the meantime, it will grace the herb garden with its beauty and fragrance, while attracting butterflies, bees and other helpful insect allies. The unique bloom reminds me of the thistle plant, which may be the reason I was initially attracted to it. All the more reason to cultivate this amazing herb.

bee balm bloom