Cymbopogon - The Lemon Scented Grass
It is a well-known fact, that modern human beings associate many raw ingredients such as wheat, grass, herbs, spices, fruits mainly with culinary use, however, their usage is wider than that. We also like to create nicknames for our ease and one such example of this is Cymbopogon which is better known as lemongrass :)
Lemongrass belongs to the grass family the same as pandan and sugar cane. The exact origins of lemongrass are not known, however, it has been part of day to day life of Thai, Vietnamese, Indians as well as Africans and Australians.
People usually associate lemongrass mainly with Thai cuisine as it’s become a globally recognised cuisine. Lemongrass became a staple ingredient for the lemony fragrance with its milder and sweeter taste. Apart from culinary use, lemongrass oil is used as a pesticide and a preservative. Research shows that lemongrass oil has the ability to repel mosquitoes and is commonly used as a “lure” to attract honey bees.
One of the many lemongrass species is called Citronella grass which is used for citronella oil. Citronella oil is used in soaps, as an insect spray or insect candles (we use this at home!) as well as being used within the culinary industry and lastly in perfumery.
For me, lemongrass caught my attention in the tea form. When brewed it is not only delicious but healthy as well.
Since cymbopogon or lemongrass, if you like, is a herb, it will work well with clear spirits such as vodka, gin, and rum for infusions, however, it will bring a nice contrast to brown spirits as well. Lastly, if you cook tea and sweeten it up with sugar or good quality honey, you can create lemongrass syrup.
Here is our family recipe we love to drink at home:
30 gm freshly cut lemongrass into small pieces 200 gm still water 400 gm honey
Bring water to a boil and add lemongrass.
ring the heat to the lowest temperature and let it steep for 10 mins covered by a lid.
Combine strained lemongrass tea with honey and stir properly.
Bottle and keep refrigerated.
This syrup will last for around 3 weeks if stored in a fridge. To use this lemongrass honey, simply top up with tea and stir, or experiment in cocktails. Play with different ratios based on your preferred sweetness.