Mint is an amazing herb. I picked up my CSA box yesterday and within 2 minutes, the entire car smelled like a minty wonderland. I LOVE the stuff. I’m totally hung up on all forms of mint right now. I think it’s because it makes me feel cooler. It’s freakin’ hot here ya’ll. I hate summer.
I use peppermint essential oil in my Rainbow “Rainmate” to help with headaches and fatigue. I use my Dr. Bronner’s peppermint soap every day (which is pure bliss, btw), and I suck down mint tea like nobody’s business. No sweeteners, no additives, no foreign, strange ingredients. Just mint, tea, and water…pretty awesome stuff.
Mint is good for so many things. Here’s the breakdown from http://www.medicinalplants-pharmacognosy.com:
This stuff is also killer for headaches. A little peppermint oil on the temples and the relief is almost immediate. It’s like magic.
I had three bundles of mint in my box yesterday. It doesn’t keep especially long so I had to get to work puttin’ it to use. I LOVE me some mint iced tea in the summer so I thought I would share with you my system for having it on hand whenever the need for more mint arises. Doing it this way not only saves me time in the long run, but allows me to use up the mint while it is still potent and flavorful. If I was to do several small batches, it would dry up before I was able to use it all in its fresh minty glory. Dried mint works too, but I happen to prefer it as green and tender as possible 🙂
Here’s the scoop:
Wash your mint. Pick off any darkened or otherwise undesirable leaves. Add to a large pot and fill about 3/4 of the way with water:
Next, prepare whatever you will be freezing your mint tea “concentrate” in. I use mason jars. Yeah, I know..you’re not supposed to be able to freeze in glass. This is not entirely true, you just have to use common sense. Liquid expands as it freezes, therefore, you must leave ample space for the expansion *and* use only WIDE MOUTH mason jars. If you use narrow necked ones, it will most certainly break in the freezer. Truth be told, I break several mason jars every time I freeze in bulk, mostly because I over-fill them. If you don’t want to risk this, the Ball company makes some great freezer containers. I have also used quart sized yogurt containers or re-purposed kefir bottles. I like the kefir bottles because I know my dairy uses BPA free plastic. If you are using plastic containers, please do not fill your containers until the tea cools. Heat and plastic are never a good combination. Not only because of its tendency to melt, but because of the nasty chemicals it can release when heated.
While you are preparing your containers, your tea is brewing. It should turn a light shade of green:
Allow the tea to stay at a low boil for about 10-15 minutes. Strain out the leaves, and prepare to fill your containers. I always use a canning funnel to cut back on the mess.
Do not fill it too high if you are using mason jars.
Allow your tea to cool completely before freezing. If you are using glass, you may want to freeze with lids OFF initially, so see if there is enough space after expansion occurs. This would have saved me two jars yesterday. Use common sense, remember? 😛
After I filled my eight jars, I took the leftover quart (or so) of mint tea (while it was still blazing hot) and divided it evenly between two half gallon mason jars. The tea was still plenty hot to steep my black tea bags. I added four organic black tea bags to each jar and walked away for about 20 minutes.
Once 20 minutes had elapsed, I filled the jars with water, fished out the bags (which are awesome for my compost heap), covered, and stuck in the refrigerator. Here is a fun tip: The green lid of your parm cheese can fits the top of a narrow necked mason jar perfectly. Makes a great pouring spout:
One pint of “concentrate” w/four black tea bags will make one half gallon of perfectly minty iced tea. When you are ready to use it, just pull the frozen concentrate out, let it thaw for a bit, steep your black tea bags in hot water for about 20 minutes, add the mint tea, and fill to make 1/2 a gallon. Serve with sprigs of mint, lemon slices or just plain ol’ ice.
Enjoy, be refreshed, and nourish your body all at the same time 🙂