How to Dry Lemon Balm for Tea

Lemon balm, also known as Melissa officinalis, is a popular herb with a refreshing lemony scent and numerous health benefits. One of the most common ways to enjoy lemon balm is by making a soothing and delicious cup of tea.

In this article, we will explore the various methods for drying lemon balm to prepare it for tea, as well as provide helpful tips and tricks to ensure you get the best results.

Lemon balm leaves

Why Dry Lemon Balm?

Drying lemon balm has multiple benefits:

  1. Preservation: Drying the leaves helps preserve them for an extended period, allowing you to enjoy lemon balm tea throughout the year.
  2. Convenience: Dried leaves are easy to store and take up less space than fresh ones.
  3. Enhanced Flavor: The drying process can intensify the flavor of lemon balm, making your tea even more delicious.

Preparing Lemon Balm for Drying


The first step in drying lemon balm is harvesting the leaves. To get the best flavor, follow these guidelines:

  • Harvest in the morning, after the dew has dried but before the heat of the day.
  • Choose healthy, undamaged leaves free of pests and diseases.
  • Harvest just before the plant starts to flower for the highest concentration of essential oils.


After harvesting, it’s important to clean the leaves to remove dirt and any insects. Follow these steps:

  1. Fill a large bowl with cold water.
  2. Gently swish the lemon balm leaves in the water to remove dirt and debris.
  3. Remove the leaves from the water and gently shake off excess moisture.
  4. Lay the leaves on a clean towel and pat them dry.

Removing Stems

It’s best to remove the larger stems before drying the lemon balm, as they can affect the drying time and the final flavor of your tea. Simply pluck the leaves from the stems and discard the stems.

Methods for Drying Lemon Balm

There are several methods to dry lemon balm, and each has its own advantages and disadvantages. We will explore four popular methods below.

Air Drying

Air drying is the simplest and most cost-effective method of drying lemon balm. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Gather small bundles of lemon balm leaves and secure them with a rubber band or string.
  2. Hang the bundles upside down in a warm, dry, and well-ventilated area, away from direct sunlight.
  3. Leave the bundles hanging for 1-2 weeks or until the leaves are completely dry and crumbly.

Oven Drying

Oven drying is a faster method than air drying, but it requires more attention to prevent over-drying or burning the leaves. Follow these steps:

  1. Preheat your oven to its lowest temperature setting (usually around 170°F or 75°C).
  2. Spread the lemon balm leaves in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  3. Place the baking sheet in the oven and leave the door slightly ajar to allow moisture to escape.
  4. Check the leaves every 10-15 minutes, turning them occasionally until they are completely dry and crumbly. This should take about 1-2 hours.

Dehydrator Drying

A food dehydrator is a convenient and efficient way to dry lemon balm. If you have one, follow these steps:

  1. Spread the lemon balm leaves in a single layer on the dehydrator trays.
  2. Set the dehydrator temperature to 95-105°F (35-40°C) for herbs.
  3. Dry the leaves for 4-6 hours, checking periodically for crispness. 4. Once the leaves are completely dry and crumbly, remove them from the dehydrator.

Microwave Drying

Microwave drying is the quickest method, but it can be challenging to control the drying process and avoid burning the leaves. Proceed with caution and follow these steps:

  1. Place a single layer of lemon balm leaves on a microwave-safe plate lined with paper towels.
  2. Cover the leaves with another paper towel to absorb moisture.
  3. Set the microwave to a low power setting (defrost or 30% power) and heat the leaves for 30 seconds.
  4. Check the leaves and continue microwaving in 30-second increments, turning the leaves after each session until they are completely dry and crumbly. This should take 2-4 minutes in total.

Storing Dried Lemon Balm

Once your lemon balm leaves are dry, it’s essential to store them properly to maintain their flavor and quality. Follow these tips for optimal storage:

  1. Crumble the dried leaves into small pieces to release their aroma and flavor.
  2. Store the dried leaves in an airtight container, such as a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid.
  3. Label the container with the date and contents.
  4. Keep the container in a cool, dark, and dry place away from direct sunlight and heat sources.

Properly stored dried lemon balm can last up to one year, but it’s best to use it within six months for optimal flavor.

Preparing Lemon Balm Tea

Now that you have your dried lemon balm, it’s time to enjoy a delicious cup of tea. To prepare lemon balm tea, follow these simple steps:

  1. Boil water in a kettle or saucepan.
  2. Add 1-2 teaspoons of dried lemon balm leaves to a tea infuser or teapot.
  3. Pour the boiling water over the leaves and let them steep for 5-10 minutes, depending on your desired strength.
  4. Strain the tea into a cup and enjoy!

You can also mix dried lemon balm with other herbs or tea leaves to create your own custom blends.


Drying lemon balm is an easy and rewarding process, allowing you to enjoy this delightful herb all year round. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can create your own dried lemon balm and enjoy a soothing and delicious cup of tea whenever you like.

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