Lebanese dried lemon tea

I’m getting sick. My neck is tight and my eyes, when I look in the mirror, have that other-worldly, I-am-doomed sparkle.

I still went writing this morning, though. Ate my raisin cookie and drank my two-dollar coffee and rearranged words and thought real hard for a few hours, but back home, I’m clearly on the way down. Even with Ibuprofen, I’m flushed and achy. I finished reading one book and started another, and then it occured to me that if I wanted to write a blog post before I hit the do-nothing, pure-misery stage, I better get busy.

So quick. Before I succumb entirely, I must tell you about lemons.

On the way home from writing, after picking up my younger son from his friend’s house and stopping by first the bank and then the grocery store (for orange juice and cough drops, among other things) before heading out of town, I remembered a store that my sister-in-law had recently told me about. A Lebanese store, right on our end of town, that sold naan and hummus and such. So even though I was faint with hunger, I doubled back into town.

They didn’t have fresh naan — just the frozen stuff — but they did have big, flat cracker-ish rounds that would go well with our supper of lentils and rice (that I’m now probably not well enough to make). And, just so we’d know what they had, my son and I walked the short aisles, pausing to admire the packages of compressed dates, the tins of loose-leaf tea, the ground bulger and pasta, the bins of fava beans and sunflower seeds.

It was towards the back of the store that I discovered a bag of hard, brown, mysterious round balls.

“What are these?” I asked the shopkeeper.

“Dried lemons,” she said. “For soups and sauces, or tea. Just crack them open and simmer in water. They’re good for the digestion, too.”

Now it’s not even mid-afternoon, and I’ve already made the tea twice. The dried lemons are hard to open, but I discovered that one brisk whack with my heavy rolling pin does the trick. I simmer the lemon in water, then add a bag of chamomile for oomph, let the two steep together for a few minutes, and then strain, stir in some sugar, and drink.

It’s delicious, exactly the sort of beverage one craves when falling ill.


Lebanese Dried Lemon Tea

You can order dried lemons here, but I strongly suggest you track down your local Middle Eastern grocer — you know, to build community. Plus, it’s loads more fun.

For more information on dried lemons (or limes? I’m still struggling to understand the difference), read this or this.

1-2 dried lemons
2-4 cups water
Herbal tea bag, optional
Sugar to taste, starting with 2 teaspoons

Crack open the dried lemon(s) and combine with the water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. After 5 minutes, add the tea bag, if using. Turn off the heat and steep for another five minutes. Strain the tea, discarding the bag and lemons. Sugar to taste.

This same time, years previous: the quotidian (1.1.18), 2017, how to make a fireball, Christmas, quite frankly, constant motion, cranberry crumble bars, the quotidian (1.2.12), baguettes.


  • JAG

    Hmm, I'm also in those same cold stages, and really wishing I hadn't finally given up on the dried lemons I had procured from somewhere and sent them to the compost pile a year or two ago in a purging fit.

  • Lisa Sale

    Oh gosh, I hope you're not getting the flu. Mucinex-D was a huge help when I got sick a few weeks ago. That and tea, plus salty broth since that's all I could taste. I hope you're on the mend soon!!

    • Jennifer Jo

      Besides being easier to make (no juicing of lemons), it has a slightly floral flavor, maybe even a mild funk. And the acid is a little less bite-y.

  • Margo

    oh bless you, I hope you don't TOO sick. Don't forget your ginger/honey/lemon tea – that saved me over Christmas break and I had a cup today, too.

    Also, does the dried lemon tea taste lemony, like fresh lemons??

    • Jennifer Jo

      When I was at the store today, I bought a fresh hand of ginger and two lemons, too. Now if I can just get one of my minions to cook me up a batch of tea….

  • Becky

    I need to find these. I'm going to start with the store on main street here and if I can't find them, I'm coming over the mountain.

    I hope you feel better soon. I swear by loads of garlicy chicken soup.

    • Jennifer Jo

      I have leftover turkey noodle soup in the fridge, and at this very moment I'm simmering a turkey carcass for more stock.

  • mommychef

    I hope you feel better and that you enjoy the next book. Just finished "Small Fry" (was good) and have Homegoing on reserve to pick up tomorrow! So many coincidences that I might search out some dried lemons now too.

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