Saturday, November 15, 2014

Garden Mint Tea in the Winter

We were first introduced to garden mint tea at a bible study a few years ago.  We took one tiny sprig home with us that night at planted with hope it would yield enough for us to have our own tea.  And yield it did.  We planted it right amidst all our other landscaping not knowing how invasive it really is - we dug it up when we moved from that house putting it in a flower pot.  It didn't make it through the winter.  Sadly the next spring we were, once again, without mint for our refreshing summer beverage.

When we bought this house, a friend of mine had just bought a new-to-her house also.  It had a wonderful bunch of garden mint planted, of which she gave me a clump.  I brought it home and eagerly planted it in my new garden (this time in a place that it is allowed to take over).  We've had fresh mint tea all summer long... wonderful.  However, winter is quickly approaching and temps are starting to dip below freezing.  I noticed some dark spots on the mint so I knew it was time to harvest it for the winter.  I didn't even realize I could do such a thing until a very dear Mennonite lady instructed me how, exactly, she makes a concentrate to hold them over.  So out I went today with my basket and clippers in hand.  I had already made three batches by the time I thought about sharing this with a picture.

For a normal batch I clip a few sprigs and put it in a saucepan to boil.  However, this time around I called out the calvary - my 12 qt. stainless steel stock pot.  I've never done this before so the amount I used is not precise, just loosely filling the pot and then covering completely, to the top, with water.  Bring to a rolling boil and "cook" for about 15 minutes.  The water takes on a greenish/brownish color and a heavenly minty smell begins to waft through your house.

I added stems and everything - because I've learned with small batches... trying to sieve out individual leaves floating in my pan takes entirely too much time.  And there's a house here to finish :o)  I use the slotted utensil from the above picture to lift the plants out of my pan and ready them for a trip to the compost.  From here I add sugar.  I add much less than the original recipe calls for, but I sweeten it to satisfy my husband's taste buds.  He likes it to be a smooth minty. lightly sweetened flavor.  For the 11 qt of tea that is actually left in my stockpot after evaporation happens I add about 3 cups of sugar - stir to disolve.  Then let it sit and cool.  I collected plastic containers (cottage cheese, mayo, spaghetti sauce, cool whip) from my neighbor, my mom to store the tea in.  Once cooled and transferred to the containers I put them in our long-term storage freezer. My understanding in how to use/serve it throughout the winter is to thaw completely and add that same amount of cold water to the pitcher.

 And we'll be enjoying this all winter long.  

PS - it tastes just as yummy as hot tea also ;o)

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