Fit for a Queen: Lavender Tea

Lavender Fields, Mayfield Lavender Farm, Surrey, England

Lavender, to me, is so very, very English. As an Anglophile teenager, I wore Yardley’s Lavender Eau de Toilette. Once married, I searched high and low for lavender scented beeswax furniture polish so that my home would smell like a stately English manor. And in later years, I longed for lavender in my garden so that, like the washerwomen of days past, I could lay my tea linens over the plants to dry and absorb the lovely scent. (Did you know that those washerwomen were called ‘lavenders’?)

 

Lavender, Mayfield Lavender Farm, Surrey, England

If it’s so English, what is its history here? Well, you can’t talk about English history without talking about the Romans and the Romans couldn’t get enough of lavender. They loved the stuff, using it in medicine, in their religious ceremonies, and in their hair, clothes, beds and baths. By the time they finally left England (good riddance), lavender was growing in monasteries here, and when Henry VIII dissolved those in the 1500s, lavender growing moved to domestic gardens. So ….. ‘apart from the sanitation, the aqueduct, and the roads’ (any Monty Python fans out there?), we can indeed thank the Romans for bringing lavender to England.

During Victorian times, Queen Victoria’s fondness for lavender made the herb very fashionable amongst ladies. The North Surrey Downs at that time was the centre of lavender oil production, and last week-end I visited that area’s Mayfield Lavender farm. What a delight being surrounded by all that pretty purple perfume!

 

Lavender Fairy Cake and Lavender Tea, Mayfield Lavender Farm, Surrey, England

A versatile plant, lavender has many uses throughout the home, including that of culinary herb. It can be used to make, among many things: jam, scented sugar – and lavender tea*.

Elizabeth I drank lavender tea to treat her migraines. I was able to buy fresh lavender tea at Mayfield Lavender, but Elizabeth I no doubt had to make her own.

If you have never tried lavender tea before, I would encourage you to give it a go. I am normally not a fan of flowery, scented tea, so was very surprised at how much I liked it. To help you along, here is a lavender tea recipe fit for a Queen:

 

Lavender Tea

  • 3 tbsp fresh lavender flowers (or 1 and 1/2 tbsp dried lavender flowers)
  • 2 cups boiling water

Put the flowers in a teapot. Cover with boiling water and steep for at least 5 minutes. Pour into cups, straining to remove flowers. Serve with honey and sliced lemon, if desired.

 

Denise's Lavender Tisane

 

*Calling it lavender ‘tea’ is a bit of a misnomer. ‘Tea’, per se, contains tea leaves from the tea plant Camellia sinensis. So whilst a mix of lavender flowers and loose tea leaves (such as English Breakfast or Earl Grey) can rightfully be called lavender tea, a mix of lavender flowers and hot water cannot and is best called a lavender infusion or a lavender tisane. You know, just in case it ever comes up on Mastermind.

 

 



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Comments

  1. Lovely post! I use Lavender oil on pillow if I can’t sleep, it’s lovely and relaxing. This tea would do the trick too.

  2. Thanks for the information on lavender. I use a lavender spray in my linen cupboard and love the fragrance there. Not sure I would like to drink it, though I have had a pretty good lavender lemonade.

    • Marilyn, I didn’t think I’d like lavender tea because I do not like floral, scented teas at all, but I wanted to try it because, well, I wanted to experience the taste Queen Elizabeth I would have experienced. I was quite surprised that I liked it. Not a tea I would drink everyday, but I must admit to feeling very ‘English’ when drinking it. LOL

  3. Wonderful photos! I can only imagine how heady the perfume of that field must be. I have a lavender hedge in my garden and it is like living in a bar of Yardley’s soap… Fantastic! I will have to harvest a few bits to make a cuppa . I’ve seen recipes for lavender shortbread…. hmmm. Perhaps this could be a theme for a Sunday afternoon tea I find your blog very inspirational, Denise! : ) Thanks!

    • Thanks for your nice words, Debs. Oh yes, a Sunday Lavender Tea sounds lovely. The Lavender Fairy Cake we had at the farm, together with the Lavender Tea, was a nice combination. They had lavender bits in the cake, and then sprinkled atop the icing.

  4. Is there such a thing as lavender furniture polish? I wonder where I might find it?

    I recently made lavender tea cookies from Susan Branch’s Summer book. A very unique taste, to be sure. And I’ve tried the lavender Earl Grey tea but never simply plain Lavender tisane! Must try now!

    I love that the English call “cupcakes” ….Fairy Cakes! So much more precious, don’t you think? First heard that phrase in Paul McCartney’s darling song “English Tea!”

    • Hi Karen, Yes there is such a thing! Try going here: http://amzn.to/Ox7tU7 I LOVE all of Susan’s books, and I hope you have a chance to try a Lavender Tisane. Let me know when you do. It’s not to everyone’s liking but, as I said, I surprised myself because I liked it a lot. Yes! Fairy Cakes is so charming, isn’t it? One of the guys I used to work with back in the States asked me if they use fairies to make Fairy Cakes. 😉 Cheeky. I love that song ‘English Tea’, too! Kindred spirits! Thank you so much for taking the time to comment, and for visiting Tea in England. x

  5. Such an easy recipe! I’ll be trying that.
    I like lavender fairy/ cup cakes too, and also tried lavender+honey ice cream a couple of years ago, in England. Can’t remember which company made that, but it was surprisingly delicious.

  6. Terrific article! We have visited a Lavender Farm here in New England, on Cape Cod. Lovely to see the purple/violet Lavender in bloom! Thank you for the Lavender infusion recipe! I am going to try it.

  7. The Lady Caroline says:

    I love to read your blog and when I read this piece I was very interested to read about QEI drinking lavender tea to cure her migraines. As a sufferer of quite hideous migraines, I am persuaded that I should indeed try this to see if it indeed eases the pain. Thank you Denise, for this nugget of information.

  8. Karen Peterson says:

    Re-reading this lovely blog post on one of my fave subjects….lavender! And tea! And England! And fairy cakes! It all fits together like a beautiful patchwork quilt! ♡

    • You’re just too sweet, Karen. I’m glad you are still popping by to revisit some of your favourite posts. 🙂 xoxo

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