I am so excited to share this new homemade soda recipe with you! Lemon Leaf Soda is something I have been making here at home in Spain for the last couple of years, and it’s unlike anything I have ever made (or bought) before. The flavor is very herbal and has hints of citrus blossom fragrance. There is a tiny bitterness that makes it a great stand-in for an all-natural tonic water in cocktails, too. I think you will love it!
One of the fun things about making lemon leaf soda is that you can easily collect leaves from your lemon tree, and it’s the perfect project to do after pruning (but if you can’t wait until pruning season, you can just collect leaves from all over the tree).
I know you may be wondering… Why lemon leaves? Well, first of all, they are readily available if you grow lemons, and always in season! But there are health benefits, too. Lemon leaves have herbal properties that make them useful for treating a range of issues. Most notably, they have a sedative and anti-spasmodic effect. The most common way herbalists recommend using them is just making a tea with them and drinking it regularly. So this soda is perfect, since it’s essentially fermented lemon leaf tea!
Health Issues Supported by Drinking Lemon Leaf Tea Include:
- Anxiety and Nervousness
- Stomach Aches
So if you have a lemon tree, you may want to also consider making lemon leaf tea! Just steep about five leaves in boiling water for 5-10 minutes. Sweeten with honey if you need to. It’s good!
Now, on to the recipe!
How to Make Lemon Leaf Soda
Lemon Leaf Soda is unlike anything I have made (or bought) before! The flavor is very herbal and has hints of citrus blossom fragrance. There is a tiny bit of bitterness that makes it a great stand-in for an all-natural tonic water in cocktails, too. I think you will love it!
- Category: Beverages
- Method: Fermentation
- A bunch of well-rinsed, organic lemon leaves. The amount is somewhat flexible, but I used about 500 grams, or a big bowl full.
- Filtered or fresh water. I used about a gallon, and again, this is flexible.
- The juice of one lemon
- Sugar, local raw honey (if you don’t have a good source, you can order it online here,) or evaporated cane juice. About one cup.
- A probiotic starter culture source. This can be the contents of a probiotic capsule (this is the kind I use), or whey. You can get this by just draining some off of your yogurt or kefir. I usually use about 1/4 cup.
1. Bring a pot with a gallon of water to a boil. Add your washed lemon leaves, add a cover, and steep overnight.
2. Strain the “tea” from the leaves, and mix in the honey or sugar, lemon juice, and starter culture. You want it sweet, but nothing crazy. Keep in mind that the sugars here will be digested to make the fizz you’re after, so you want it a bit sweeter than your end product. We like our drinks to be barely-sweet, so this is very individual.
3. Pour all of this liquid into glass containers or demijohns. Cover loosely, or add an airlock, and put it in your cupboard or another place that it won’t be disturbed.
4. Wait. Taste. Wait. I made a couple of smaller batches and one larger, and the small ones fermented more quickly. There’s something about the compounds in the lemon leaves that makes them ferment much more slowly than other types of soda I have made before. Be patient, it could take up to a month, depending on heat and other conditions. The upside is that this lemon leaf soda seems to be much more stable than fruit sodas, that can quickly over-ferment and become way to fizzy or too dry. I’ve kept bottles of lemon leaf soda in the fridge for months and months, without and they just get better! When it’s a barely sweeter than you want your final product, pour the soda into swing-top (grolsch-style) bottles and let it sit for another week or two, to develop some good fizz. You must use this kind of bottle— it could explode otherwise.
6. When your bottles of lemon leaf soda are ready, just store in the fridge or in a cool place.
- Fresh, young lemon leaves are the most flavorful.
- If you want to keep your soda for quite a while and are concerned about the buildup of carbon dioxide, just check them now and then, releasing any buildup of gas.
This method can be adapted for so many different kinds of drinks. You can also save a little of your soda to use to culture your next batch. Right now I am making a Rhubarb Soda with Mint. A lot of the natural soda recipes out there require special cultures, but this one is so easy and accessible. I hope you’ll try it!
For more fermented beverage projects, you may want to check out these probiotic soda recipes:
And for more adult homebrews, check these out:
- Nettles Beer
- Blackberry “Cider”
- Hard Apple Cider (from whole apples, without a press)
- Apple Peel Cider
- Rhubarb Wine
- Plum Wine
- Elderberry Wine
- Sparkling Rose Petal Wine
I hope you enjoy this lemon leaf soda, and that it will inspire you to try some variations– I think adding an herb like thyme would be delicious, for example! And as I mentioned before, I think it would work really well in some natural cocktails. Enjoy!