Lemon grass is a herb with numerous medicinal properties. I enjoy having it every morning. The flavor is really delightful. Unfortunately, it is hardly sold. To enjoy it everyday, it involves going to the garden and harvesting the quantity to be used. If left for a few days, the lemon grass blades either dry up or decay.
I wanted to preserve the lemon grass blades by making it easier for me to use. Because I like having tea when sweetened, I combined the sugar from sugar cane into it. The sweetened version of this comes ready to use, with no need to add extra sweetening. Both the flavor and sweetness will be released into the cup when utilized.
There is also a tea bag which can be repeatedly opened and closed. This way, a single tea bag can be used over and over again.
Step 1: You'll Need...
--5 to six 25cm sticks of sugar cane. (May be gotten from grocery shops or online stores.)
--About 100 blades of lemon grass. (If you practice gardening, it is preferable to get this directly from the garden. If not, look for it in a market near you. )
--A grinding machine. (In my case, I used a hand-powered grinding machine. Alternatively, an electric one could be used.)
--A straining cloth.
--One glass jar.
--A teabag. (You could either decide to make this yourself or get that of an existing product. In my case, I got a teabag from a Lipton™ pack.)
--Needle and thread.
Step 2: Cutting.
First, wash the lemon grass blades to remove dirt. Later, grab a knife and shred it into really small pieces. The smaller the size the better. Once this is done, set aside for now.
Step 3: Sugar From Sugarcane
Like mentioned earlier, the tea will be made and sweetened. This way, a single teabag can be carried during journeys with no need to add external sugar.
Sugar is made from sugarcane. We will be personally extracting our own sugar from the sugarcane. The sugar will then be infused with the leaves, making them one. Also, the added presence of sugar coating the lemon-grass shreds will further act as an added preservative, as well as a sweetener.
Step 4: Peeling and Cutting.
Use a knife to remove the hard outer covering over the sugarcane sticks. The inner fibrous, wet, liquid-sugar-infused pith is what we will use. Cut in into this longitudinal stripes. The smaller it is, the easier it will go through the grinding machine.
Step 5: Grinding
If you are using a hand-powered grinding machine, then the grinding will take a while. It is advisable to grind it slowly. Don't stuff in too many strips into the machine as it may clog the machine or overworks your hand.
Step 6: Straining
The ground shreds are wet and literally dripping with sugar. Hold a straining cloth over a glass, top with the sugarcane shreds and squeeze the juice into the glass. Don't expect to get much out of it.
Step 7: Joining
Return the liquid from the sugarcane to a saucepan and then unto a fire. Leave for minutes under the heat. With every passing minute, more water gets evaporated, increasing concentration. The remaining sugar will begin to bubble. When you feel all the water has evaporated, turn off the fire before it burns.
Don't just leave the remaining sugar to cool. If it cools, it hardens into solid sugar. Acting quickly, pour in the lemon grass shreds into the viscous sugar. Stir vigorously to make sure every shreds gets a piece of the sugar. Keep to dry.
Step 8: Teabag
The difference of this teabag from other teabags is that it can be repeatedly used. Once used, the contents can be thrown away and the teabag dried. Then it will be good to be used again.
To make a single reusable teabag, I modified an existing one. Using a blade, cut off the top of the bag and empty out its contents. For the teabag to be used again and again, there should be an opening through which we will repeatedly insert and remove the tiny lemon-grass tea shreds.
Thread a needle. As though making pleats, repeatedly insert and remove the threaded needle throughout the entire circumference of the entry point, giving large gaps. Cut the needle and tie the ends. You should now have two sides of thread. It can be pulled on either side to close, and then opened if need be.
Step 9: Canning
The absence of water and the presence of sugar will preserve the lemon-grass . Still, air moisture could adversely affect it and make it go bad. To stop this from happening, pour it into a can. Also keep the teabag. Seal and store in a cool dry place.
Step 10: How to Use
Open the teabag and fill with the processed lemon-grass pieces. Close by pulling on either side of the teabag threads.
Just like when making any other kind of tea, heat some water. Transfer this water into a teacup of your choice. Insert the teabag into the water and leave for a few minutes. As the lemon-grass flavor gets extracted and the sugar dissolves, the water should get a faint green color.