Hierba Luisa

A new food discovery that I have made while in Peru is Hierba luisa, a grass-like plant that tends to grow easily on the coast of Northern Peru. I bought a box of Hierba luisa tea at the market because I didn’t know what it was and I wanted to try it. It has a strong lemon aroma and taste, almost like lemon-heads candy. Then when I started working at Otra Cosa, the couple that started OC have Hierba luisa growing in their garden. It’s such a distinctive, amazing herb. Here in Peru they cut off the leaves and steep it in hot water for tea. The research that I was able to compile is that it’s the same plant as the lemongrass used in Asian cuisines, except the bottom two inches of the hard stem is used for cooking instead of the leaves. I don’t really understand why the leaves are not used, because in Peru, that’s the most popular part. I have yet to see people dig up their lemongrass plants and use the stem, they just trim the leaves on the plant.

Lemongrass has some different species within the genus, one is used for citronella production and another is for making geraniol oil for the perfume industry. Lemongrass has many medicinal properties such as helping with arthritis, stress and stomach problems. It is high in anti-oxidants as well.

I was honored to be asked to create a cocktail for our volunteer coordinator’s birthday party at Otra Cosa. I thought it would only be fitting to use this popular plant in a different way. I’m happy to say that it was a big hit with the Peruvians and the extranjeros. I thought I’d share the recipe for you to try.

This cocktail is subtle with the lemongrass but has a nice kick to it with fresh ginger. I really like the presentation when you put it in the blender. Feel free to change the quantities of lemongrass or ginger for your own personal mix.

Juany Troga

for 2 servings

1/2″ slice of peeled ginger, roughly chopped
5 blades of lemongrass (about 10 inches long)
3 Tbl sugar, raw is preferred
3 fl oz water
2 fl oz rum (or more)
4 fl oz agua con gas (like perrier or something)
a dash of cinnamon

1. Place the ginger, lemongrass, sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer.
2. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 5-10 minutes.
3. Let the syrup cool to room temperature and strain out the ginger and lemongrass.
4. Place the syrup, run and carbonated water in a blender and pulse for about 5 seconds, or until it is nice and frothy.
5. Pour into your favorite cocktail glass and decorate with cinnamon.

Any extra syrup can be saved for later in an airtight container, refrigerated.

17 Responses to “Hierba Luisa”

  1. kristin Says:

    Hi KimmyK!
    I want to try this recipe. It sounds very light and refreshing. All your reports on new foods makes me want to come visit and try them, too.
    kisses, Kristin

  2. John Says:

    Looking for botonicsl name for the Hierba Luisa as described in this article. All the other resouces shows avariety that looks like hierba buena or mint tea. Small leaves with flowers (lemon verbena or Aloysia triphylla) these are not what I am looking for. What you have is what I want. I have broght it back from Peru, but going through customs becomes even more difficult each time I return to the U.S.


  3. kimmykokonut Says:

    Hi John. Thanks for visiting my blog!
    This tends to be confusing because some people call hierba luisa the same as lemon verbena and cedron, but the hierba luisa that the restaurant grew fresh did NOT look like verbena (Aloysia triphylla). The correct genus for the Hierba Luisa that is lemongrass is Cymbopogon. As for the species, there are a few different types, but I think the one you are seeking is Cymbopogon citratus.

  4. robert Says:

    You can buy hierba luisa (lemon grass) from the produce section at a vietnamese store. I did buy a bunch for a couple of bucks (the whole live grass) then I planted it on my back yard and after a month, today, I’m enjoying delicious lemon grass tea. I add a few drops of lime juice for better taste. You can enjoy it too.

  5. JuanCarlos Says:

    I agree to Robet’s coments, I did exactly the same and now I have a bunch of hierba luisa, which brings memories of my childhood and mi abuela, I’m originally form Ecuador and is very popular there as well.

  6. pamela Says:

    I think I’m gonna try the recipe.

  7. kimmykokonut Says:

    Let me know how you like it, Pamela.

  8. Jose Says:

    Hi gays, I from Chile in my country this “hierba” is very popular, specially in the north of Chile. The best recipe is mixing hot Ceylon tea whit a little of “hierba luisa” an some sugar. The enjoy is guarantee…!

    P.D. I’m shame for mi “english”…so “my Tarzan you Jane…”

  9. kimmykokonut Says:

    Jose, your tea combination sounds great. Now I wish I brought some hierba luisa back to the US with me. I’ll have to keep my eye out at the Vietnamese shops for some live lemongrass. I’d grow a forest of it if I could!

  10. carlos Says:

    finally , found the meaning of hierba luisa in english, i’m from Peru and now i live in USA, and i wasnt able to find it …….

  11. Orie Says:

    I just bought a container of dried Luisa here in Canada. It came from Israel actually. They make a tea from it as well. I found your website when researching it. However, I don’t think it is lemon grass – they identify it as lemon verbena, which grows in South America. Lemon grass is native to India. I think you may be talking about lemon verbena, not lemon grass.

  12. kimmykokonut Says:

    Thanks for the comment. I don’t know what they grow or how they market hierba luisa in Israel, I only know my experiences with it in South America. As a plant form, lemon verbena is very different than hierba luisa/lemongrass. It tastes very similar as tea and I think some people have translated hierba luisa as verbena but in Peru on the tea boxes the drawing of the plant was most definitely lemon grass. I saw it growing in a restaurant garden as well and it was not verbena. Specifics aside, verbena and lemongrass both make great tea!

  13. Janyce Prately Says:

    I was just seeking this information for a while. After 6 hours of continuous Googleing, finally I got it in your web site. I wonder what is the lack of Google strategy that don’t rank this type of informative web sites in top of the list. Usually the top sites are full of garbage.

  14. Brandi Blackerby Says:

    Hey there there I like your submit

  15. buy swarovski Says:

    I will instantaneously snatch your rss fodder to mainstay abreast of any updates. Esteemed urge a exercise and much star in your subject efforts!

  16. MissGaGa Says:

    Hey Kimmy, I grew up with a Peruvian Stepmom an she was always coming out with weird and wonderful things like this, i do like the food she does though! My personal favorite dish is Lomo Saltado :) this is a link to the recipe —–> http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/peruvian-lomo-saltado/detail.aspx hope you enjoy it :) xx

  17. kimmykokonut Says:


Leave a Reply