Gardening Recipes

How to grow and make lemon blossom tea

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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!


Perhaps we’re gluttons for punishment, but we go through great lengths to grow our own citrus in a decidedly non-tropical growing zone (7B).

Sometimes I start to lament having to use our large pot mover to lug our potted citrus trees into our garage during sub-freezing nights and days. When this happens, I go pick and eat some fresh kumquats, calamondins, or blood oranges straight off our trees, at which point any sense of suffering is quickly abandoned.

The taste of fresh organic citrus eaten right off the tree is indescribably delicious, not to mention rewarding. After munching, I happily lug the pots inside for the night.

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.

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!

Here’s how:

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 left) unopened flowers.

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.

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.

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.

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!

KIGI,

Other articles citrus-lovers will enjoy: 

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4 Comments

  • Reply
    Jenn
    March 20, 2021 at 2:25 pm

    Thank you for this article. I’m sitting in my yard taking in the intoxicating scent of our lemon, orange & pomelo trees watching the bees work. Some of the flowers are beginning to fall and I’ve often wondered if the flowers were edible. I’m so excited about my new project to begin harvesting and drying my own teas to enjoy year round! It will make a great gift as well.

    Do you know of a safe way to preserve fresh zest?

    • Reply
      Aaron von Frank
      March 20, 2021 at 4:32 pm

      Hi Jenn! Glad to hear you’ll get to enjoy all your tasty citrus flowers/blossoms. It is really interesting to note the subtle but distinct flavor differences between flowers of different citrus varieties. My personal favorite is makrut lime blossoms, but they’re all delightful.

      As for zest: yes, we zest all of our different citrus varieties and store it for it later use. Spread the fresh zest on a plate for about a week until it’s crunchy dry. Then store each type of zest in its own ziplock bag since they all taste different and have different culinary uses. We wrote about citrus zest use & storage here if you’re interested: https://www.tyrantfarms.com/easiest-way-to-zest-a-lemon-or-orange/

      Enjoy!

  • Reply
    Allie
    February 9, 2021 at 4:30 pm

    Do I have to wait for them to fall off? My tree is young and I want it to focus on the tree itself before it starts fruiting. Can I pop them of after they bloom or when they bud up?

    • Reply
      Aaron von Frank
      February 9, 2021 at 10:20 pm

      Hi Allie! Even on a healthy, mature citrus tree, only a fraction of the flowers will develop all the way to ripe fruit. So even if you picked a bunch of flowers from your tree in future years, you won’t necessarily diminish final fruit production. You do want your citrus flowers to at least be to the stage where they’re open for best flavor. When they’re still unopened buds, their nectar content is low.

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