I am trying to add lemon flavor to tea so that it has ginger and lemon flavor to a noticeable extent. If we boil tea water with ginger, the ginger flavor can be brought almost to the way it is okay.

But I am having trouble adding the lemon flavor to tea. If I use lemon juice just before drinking tea, it makes tea sour, which is not acceptable.

Another way I tried is that I used the lemon peel, a chunk of it, but the tea became bitter. Note that the tea already contains ginger and it has no sugar.

Is there any other way to add lemon flavor to tea without changing the flavor of this non-sweet, ginger tea?

  • 9
    'it makes tea sour, which is not acceptable' - well, I mean, to be fair, the sour taste is the taste of a lemon...
    – crizzis
    Commented Nov 8, 2020 at 18:11
  • have you tried a slice of lemon?
    – Aaron F
    Commented Nov 8, 2020 at 19:30
  • 4
    @crizzis But the sour taste is not the flavor of a lemon! Lemon zest has "lemon flavor" but isn't sour. Commented Nov 9, 2020 at 0:29
  • @crizzis The sourness is from ascorbic acid, the "lemon" aroma is from limonene. It is possible to separate the two.
    – J...
    Commented Nov 9, 2020 at 19:44

3 Answers 3


The white rind of the lemon is what causes the bitter flavour. To get simply the lemon flavour you just want the zest. Use a zester, microplane, or fine grater to scrape off only the yellow bit of the peel and nothing white and you'll get a lovely lemon flavour without the bitterness or sourness.

  • 1
    If you don't have a fine grater, you can use a paring knife or a vegetable peeler. Take the resulting strip, then place it yellow side down on a cutting board, hold the far edge and then scrape the white pith off with a sharp paring knife. (it really is scraping ... if anything, have the blade angled away slightly, not towards the direction you're pulling)
    – Joe
    Commented Nov 9, 2020 at 14:22
  • Alternatively, you could cut a strip of peel and squeeze it by folding it onto itself (with the yellow part inside), the aromatic oils will puff out into your drink.
    – JS Lavertu
    Commented Nov 9, 2020 at 15:45

Four additional options:

  • Lemon oil - be sure to get one intended for cooking, not an essential oil
  • Lemon extract - made from alcohol, lemon zest, and sometimes lemon oil; you can buy this or make it at home
  • Dried lemon zest - available as a seasoning, check the spice section of your grocery store
  • Frozen lemon zest - you make this yourself, just zest a lemon, divide it out into single-use sized portions, wrap each portion tightly in plastic wrap and store it in an airtight container in the freezer

Using fresh lemon zest (as explained in Johanna's answer) will give the best results, but these are decent substitutes if you don't have fresh lemons on hand.

  • 9
    It's worth adding that the quintessential citrussey tea, Earl Grey, is made with bergamot oil – the equivalent to lemon oil from a related fruit. Commented Nov 8, 2020 at 21:09
  • 2
    Tea, Earl Grey, Hot Commented Nov 8, 2020 at 23:34

Lemon zest is one way to go for what you want. You can shave just the outer yellow part off with a sharp knife, or a sharp carrot grater will work.

Something that might be even easier is to buy a bottle of lemon extract. $3.89 at Target. It has a longer shelf life than lemons and is not sour. I have never bought lemon extract but I have some orange extract right now and I am pleased with it. I wish I had bought it before the Cointreau which cost 10x as much and which cannot be tasted in the french toast.

There are 2 other things that can give you lemony flavor and both are available to use as tea which makes it easy..

Lemongrass - this stuff is lemony for lack of a better word- it is kind of its own thing. Tea made from lemongrass is very popular. You can buy dried lemongrass intended for making tea. Or you can get fresh lemongrass in a grocery store that carries asian foods.

Lemon balm. This is a plant in the mint family and it has a super lemony aroma and taste. Overpoweringly so in my opinion. Lemon balm is also used to make tea and you could also buy lemon balm tea and add some to your regular tea to lemonbalm it up.

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