Lemon grass ( Cymbopogon citratus ), is a species of grass native to parts of Asia and Africa although it has been well-known for many generations by various indigenous peoples of Central and North America. It is a perennial grass that thrives in warm weather and it can grow up to four feet tall in ideal climates. You can find lemon grass planted in many Malaysians' home gardens.
Its Uses =>
Lemon grass is most commonly consumed as a fresh herb (in curries and soups), oil and tea. The tea is also sometimes applied to the skin as a toner and cleaner. Boiled lemon grass leaves or stalks (dried or fresh) water is very good for bathing especially for women who have given births as it is said to be able to expel excessive 'winds' from their bodies. Lemon grass tea has a slightly spicy taste and may provide a wide variety of health benefits.
Its Benefits =>
Lemon grass promotes healthy digestion, calms nervous disorders, relieves insomnia, normalizes blood pressure and removes toxins from the body. Lemon grass may be an effective colon cancer fighter. Researchers discovered that lemon grass contains citral, a substance that kills cancer cells, but does not harm healthy cells in any way. Lemon grass also displays strong antioxidant properties and is a mild antimicrobial. The toxicity of lemon grass is very low, so it is safe to be consumed as tea on a regular basis, unless you’re pregnant.
Propagation And Growing Conditions =>
Lemon grass is a fast growing and easy to grow plant. It can be propagated via division from its mother plant. However, you may also plant one using store bought stalk that has a few roots in sight. You can either plant it direct into the soil or leave it to root a little bit more in the water before planting. Lemon grass grows well under full sun with plenty of water. It prefers a rich and well-draining soil. If it is grown in containers, you may want to top-dress it with compost or organic fertilizers every couple of weeks so as to ensure it gets enough nutrients.
My mum especially loved lemon grass for its delicate hint of lemon. She also cherished it for its many health benefits. She used to make tea from its fresh leaves or stalks for us to drink every now and then. While it is best to use fresh leaves or stalks to make the tea, it would be good to have the dried ones at hand, especially when you don't feel like going out to the garden to do the harvest.
Here is how to sun-dry lemon grass leaves to make tea :
1) Harvest some lemon grass leaves or stalks on a clear-weathered morning. Wash them clean and cut them into small pieces.
2) Spread them evenly and thinly on a tray and bring them out to dry under the hot sun.
3. The drying time may take one to three days depending on the heat of the sun. They should be completely dried when they turn golden brown in colour. You can also use your clean hands to feel it.
4. After that you may store them in an air tight glass bottle for future use.
To prepare the tea, you may use about 2 tablespoons of dried lemon grass leaves to make one glass of tea. Pour hot boiling water onto the leaves in a mug or drinking glass and let it stand for at least 10 minutes. Then strain and serve.