Lemon Balm Tea

Fall Folly 4

Lemon balm (Melissa oficinalis) is one of those magic herbs with many medicinal properties. Among other things, lemon balm tea can settle upset stomachs, calm colic, and help you sleep better. So I’ve been drying the lemon balm that comes out of my garden, and I stole my mother’s as well when she cut her garden down for the winter.

Lemon Balm Tea 5

For several days my house was full of minty-smelling bundles. It doesn’t take very long to dry, which is awesome.

Lemon Balm Tea 2

Then I pulled the leaves and flowers off all the stems. A handful of the loose leaves makes a delightful pot of tea.

Lemon Balm Tea 7

Lemon Balm Tea 9

You can sweeten it with honey if you like, or even chill it for a refreshing beverage in the summer.

Lemon Balm Tea 14

Loose leaves aren’t all that practical for me, though, because I wanted to give some of this marvelous tea to people as gifts.  I ordered 200 tea bags off Amazon. They took forever to get here from Hong Kong but were so cheap I didn’t have to pay tax or shipping to get them.

Lemon Balm Tea 16

I got the large size as with dried larger leaves like this you tend to need to use quite a few to make a whole pot of tea.

Lemon Balm Tea 17

Lemon Balm Tea 18

Then I stuffed all the bags and tied them off.

Lemon Balm Tea 19

Lemon Balm Tea 22

I ended up with 96 bags of tea. That’s a lot of tea.

Lemon Balm Tea 21

I made little tea tags for my tea. I used a circle punch and a hole punch to create the tag itself from cardstock.

Lemon Balm Tea 23

Then I carved a giant T out of a rubber stamp blank.

Lemon Balm Tea 24

Lemon Balm Tea 25

Stampy stampy stampy.

Lemon Balm Tea 27

I tied the tags to the bags and stuffed them into wooden boxes I picked up from Dollarama for three bucks, together with a little blurb about the tea itself.

Lemon Balm Tea 30

Lemon Balm Tea 29

Fun gift, eh?

Lemon Balm Tea 33

Rosa’s Baby Lavender and Earl Grey Cupcakes

Lavender Earl Grey Cupcakes 26

This weekend Mags threw a post-partum baby shower (a “Sip ‘n’ See”) for Ryder and Rusty’s new little one, Rosa.  Because the colours of her baby room are gray and purple, I decided to stick to the theme and make Earl Grey cupcakes with lavender icing.  Sounds fancy!

Lavender Earl Grey Cupcakes 1

I adapted the Earl Grey cupcake batter from Oh So Very Pretty and chose the Lavender Mascarpone frosting from Kitschy Girl’s Guide and I’m so happy with the results (I made three dozen, so they had better be good!). For both the cupcakes and the frosting, you need a little bit of time beforehand to prep your infusions, so you might want to do them the day before if you’re in a rush.

Lavender Earl Grey Cupcakes 2

For the cupcakes:

Lavender Earl Grey Cupcakes 8

Microwave or gently heat 2/3 cup whole milk for about a minute.  Plop 4 bags Earl Grey tea (or the loose equivalent, if you’ve got it) in the milk and let that steep for 30 minutes.  I pretty much just left mine like this until I was done doing everything else, including washing the dishes and walking the dog.  So like, an hour.

Lavender Earl Grey Cupcakes 10

Preheat your oven to 350°F and line a muffin tray with cups.

In a bowl, whisk together 1 3/4 cup cake flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda.

Lavender Earl Grey Cupcakes 12

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together 3/4 cup granulated sugar and 1/2 cup butter.

Lavender Earl Grey Cupcakes 13

Add in 2 eggs, 1/3 cup sour cream, and 3 tablespoons vanilla.

Lavender Earl Grey Cupcakes 14

Lavender Earl Grey Cupcakes 15

Slowly mix the flour mixture into the liquid, alternating with the steeped milk, until just combined.

Lavender Earl Grey Cupcakes 17

Scoop the batter into your cupcake liners so that they are half to two-thirds full and bake for 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre cupcake comes out clean.  Set them on a wire rack to cool completely. These are puffy cupcakes.

Lavender Earl Grey Cupcakes 18

For the icing:

Start with the lavender syrup.  In a small saucepan on medium heat, dissolve 1/4 cup granulated sugar in 1/2 cup water.

Lavender Earl Grey Cupcakes 3

Lightly grind up 2 tablespoons lavender flowers.

Lavender Earl Grey Cupcakes 6

You like my new mortar and pestle?  It was a Lee Valley birthday present from Krystopf and Atlas.

Lavender Earl Grey Cupcakes 5

Toss the lavender into the syrup and bring the whole thing to a simmer for about 3 minutes.  Remove it from the heat and allow it to cool completely before straining out the flower bits. I may have missed a few.

Lavender Earl Grey Cupcakes 11

In the chilled bowl of an electric mixer (chill your beater, too), start whipping up 1 cup heavy whipping cream and 1 teaspoon vanilla.  Slowly add 1/2 cup granulated sugar, and keep going until the cream has formed stiff peaks.

Lavender Earl Grey Cupcakes 21

Add in 1 cup room temperature mascarpone and slowly drizzle in your cooled lavender syrup.  (I mixed in a bit of lavender gel paste food colouring to the mascarpone to give the whole batch of icing a pale purple colour).

Lavender Earl Grey Cupcakes 20

Lavender Earl Grey Cupcakes 22

Lavender Earl Grey Cupcakes 23

This icing is so luscious and lovely I want to actually rub it into my skin. I don’t know why.

Lavender Earl Grey Cupcakes 24

Shove the icing into a piping bag and have at it with your cupcakes.   Feel free to sprinkle the tops with crushed lavender or purple sugar or whatever floats your boat. The icing was a little too warm in these shots so it’s a little runny, but as long as it’s cold you’re golden.

Lavender Earl Grey Cupcakes 25