Refreshing Herbal Lemonade (aka Southernwood Soda)

   reading time: 2 min

Have you ever heard of southernwood? Or perhaps one of its other common names, like southern wormwood, lad's love, lemon plant, or my personal favourite – maid's ruin?

Earlier this month I learnt about it and harvested it on the grounds of the horse farm where I help out every week. In German it also bears the name Cola-Kraut which translates to "cola herb" because of its scent that is reminiscent of the gummi cola bottles.

The Artemisia abrotanum is an extremely aromatic herb – or rather, a deciduous shrub, and actually a member of the sunflower family – that emits both a pungent and citrusy scent and has an intense bitter camphor taste with a cooling effect similar to mint. (A lot of comparisons in that description, I know, haha!) It has been used both as a culinary and as a medicinal herb that
aids digestion and improves liver function.

The young shoots can be eaten to flavour pastries and pudding, or to season very fatty meat as it because of its digestive bitter substances. I wouldn't actually eat it, however, due to the very intense, bitter, sharp taste that I described earlier – instead, I use it to make an absolutely refreshing herbal lemonade with it 😍 That way it gives off its unique flavour without tasting unpleasantly harsh. In the same way, you can use southernwood
to make a digestive tea.

By the way, the volatile oil in the plant's leaves makes southernwood not only a nice air refresher, but also a great companion plant for cabbages and other plants, as the
strong, sharp scent repels cabbage moths, fruit tree moths, and ants. It can also keep away moths from your wardrobe, so dry some southernwood if you spot one, and place it into a little pouch, like a lavender bag. This insect-repellent quality can also used to deter mosquitoes, for example by crushing the leaves and rubbing them on your skin! (Perhaps you could even make your own "bug off balm" using southernwood?! I will have to give that a try ...)

But now – let's talk about this wonderful lemonade! Or as I like to call it, the "Southernwood Soda".


Preparation time: 2 mins
Main ingredients: apple juice, southernwood, lemon juice
difficulty level: easy
makes: 1 litre (4 cups)
suitable for: vegan, lactose-free, gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free, low-fat


800 ml (about 3 1/4 cups) organic apple juice, naturally cloudy
200 ml (about 3/4 cup) water or ice cubes
a handful or about 4-5 twigs of southernwood
juice of 1/2 lemon
a few slices of organic oranges
(optional) 1 tbsp elderflower cordial


Combine everything in a bottle or jug that holds 1 litre / 4 cups of liquid.

Place in the fridge to chill for a few hours, and enjoy!

If you find the apple juice too sweet, simply dilute the lemonade with more water or ice cubes – so refreshing!