Late winter to early spring is one of my favorite times to be in the garden. The days are longer, the weather’s warmer, and the air is thick with the heady fragrance of citrus flowers from our orange and mandarin trees.
When I’m feeling pulled in multiple directions and need to decompress, even for just a few minutes, I simply stand under the canopy of my citrus tree and breathe it all in.
It’s like having my own aromatherapy session; the scent is delicate yet overpowering all at once, and slowly I feel my spirits start to lift.
Science has found that there are medicinal benefits in certain smells: consider the brain-boosting power of the scent of rosemary. (Not to mention the antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties of the herb itself.)
While we generally consume the fruits of citrus trees, the flowers are also edible (albeit a tad bitter). This bitterness gets toned down (and actually enhances the flavor) in traditional Moroccan tea. If you have access to fresh orange blossoms (or bottled orange blossom water), you can make a delicious healing tea two different ways!
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Healing benefits of orange blossoms
With their anti-inflammatory properties, orange blossoms have historically been used to treat a host of health issues, including anxiety, lethargy, stress, depression, and insomnia.
(Is it strangely convenient that their season just happens to coincide with Daylight Saving Time? If the time change gets you all wonky, you can also try these other fruits that help you sleep better.)
Orange blossoms are abundant in B vitamins, vitamin C, and antioxidants, which help fight free radicals and improve your skin. The dainty flowers also aid in relaxing colon functions and ridding the body of bad bacteria, making them a safe and natural remedy for indigestion, gas, and stomach ailments, especially in children.
While store-bought orange blossom water is typically used to impart these herbal benefits, I like to use fresh orange blossoms during the fleeting time they’re available in early spring. When you prepare them in hot water, they release their scent in the air like a warm spring breeze that rolls through the house.
If you’re lucky enough to have an orange tree (or even a mandarin, clementine, or tangerine tree) in your yard, a small harvest of the lovely white flowers is all you need to make orange blossom tea. You can even use lemon blossoms for a zestier note, or combine lemon, orange, and grapefruit blossoms.
These are my two favorite ways to prepare orange blossom tea. There’s no need to pull individual petals off; just give the flowers a thorough yet gentle rinse before using.
No orange blossoms where you are? No worries, here are a few good sources of bottled orange blossom water:
- Sweet Essentials Premium Organic Orange Blossom Water
- Nielsen-Massey Orange Blossom Water
- Cortas Orange Blossom Water
- Oflorale Lebanese Orange Blossom Water
Moroccan orange blossom iced tea
Also known as Maghrebi mint tea (after the Greater Maghreb region that encompasses Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Mauritania, and Libya), this North African green tea is traditionally made with spearmint and sugar and served hot, though I think the bright, minty flavor lends itself well to a refreshing iced tea. (You can skip the chilling if you’d prefer.)
In Morocco, mint tea is sometimes infused with orange blossom water. A large handful of fresh orange blossoms gives a deliciously floral perfume to the tea if you have it, and can be steeped in hot water alongside spearmint leaves.
Makes 2 to 4 servings
4 cups water
4 teaspoons loose green tea
20 fresh orange blossoms
20 fresh spearmint leaves
1/4 cup sugar
How to make Moroccan orange blossom iced tea
Add the water, green tea, orange blossoms, and mint leaves to a tea kettle and bring to a boil.
Remove the kettle from heat and let steep for about 5 minutes.
Strain and transfer to a carafe, then stir in the sugar until dissolved.
Chill for at least 1 hour. Serve the tea over ice.
Lebanese white coffee (orange blossom tea)
If you want a more traditional tea, try a cup of Lebanese “white coffee,” or kahweh baida, a caffeine-free drink that originated in Beirut and is commonly served as a digestif to calm the tummy.
You only need a handful of orange blossoms for this simple elixir. Enjoy it in the morning as a restorative herbal tea or sip a warm cup in the evening for a restful night’s sleep.
Makes 1 serving
5 fresh orange blossoms
1 cup boiling water
Sugar or honey (optional)
How to make Lebanese white coffee
Place the orange blossoms in a tea cup and pour the boiling water over them.
Cover and let steep for about 5 minutes, then remove the blossoms.
To sweeten the tea, stir in sugar or honey to taste.
This post updated from an article that originally appeared on March 15, 2017.
View the Web Story on orange blossom tea recipe.