This recipe uses a combination of decocting (extracting the essence of an ingredient by simmering it) and infusing, the method of flavour extraction most common to herbal teas. Boiling lemon grass unleashes a heavenly scent; no wonder lemon grass tea is a beloved beverage in Thailand. Coconut water naturally sweetens this tea, while Thai basil ensures the drink doesn’t become cloying.
1 1/2 cups (350 mL) no-sugar-added coconut water
1/4 cup (60 mL) fresh Thai basil leaves, loosely packed
2 stalks lemon grass
1 Tbsp (15 mL) dried coconut flakes
Pinch of curry powder (optional)
1 lime, quartered
Pour coconut water and 4 cups (1 L) water into medium pot. Place Thai basil in jug or jar that holds at least 4 cups (1 L).
Cut both ends off each stalk of lemon grass and peel away tough outer blades. Hit remaining parts with pestle or rolling pin a few times to soften. If necessary, chop lemon grass so it will fit in pot—3 to 5 in (8 to 13 cm) pieces are fine.
Add lemon grass to pot. Cover and bring mixture to a boil over high heat. Lower heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes.
Turn off heat. Allow brew to sit for 2 minutes.
Add up to 4 cups (1 L) liquid plus lemon grass stalks to Thai basil; reserve leftover liquid. Steep tea for 5 minutes. Strain basil and lemon grass from tea and return tea to jug or jar. Chill in refrigerator for 3 to 8 hours.
Pour leftover lemon grass liquid into ice cube tray. Add coconut flakes and curry powder (if desired), and freeze.
Serve chilled tea over ice and garnish with lime segments.