Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About

This herb, also known as bee balm and Oswego tea, comes from a North American member of the mint family, Monarda didyma, whose aroma is somewhat lemony. The same name is given to a member of the citrus family whose essential oil is rich in flowery linalyl acetate, and which is the distinctive addition to Earl Grey tea. (Confusingly, European water-mint is also sometimes called bergamot.)

Mint family anatomy. A leaf of oregano, showing the microscopic oil glands that cover the surfaces of herbs in the mint family. The fragile, exposed glands filled with pungent essential oil offer a first line of defense against predators.