Mint Obsession

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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:

Amazing stuff!

Amazing stuff!

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:

The smell is only rivaled by fresh basil.

The smell is only rivaled by fresh basil.

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:

Almost there...

Almost there. Also, I wore turquoise yesterday.

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.

Careful, it's hot!

Careful, it’s hot!

Do not fill it too high if you are using mason jars.

leave at least 2 inches of  headspace.

leave at least 2 inches of head space.

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? 😛

This pot of mint tea yielded 8 pints of tea “concentrate” as well as enough leftover for a gallon of iced black mint tea.
minttea5

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.

My fave tea. $3.00 and change at Whole Foods. :)

My fave tea. $3.00 and change at Whole Foods. 🙂

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:

mintteajug

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 🙂

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4 responses »

    • I do freeze them. The trick is allowing plenty of space for expansion. I try to remember to freeze them w/out the lid at first to make sure there is ample room, and then cap them. 🙂 Last night I forgot and broke 2 jars overnight, LOL…

  1. I love mint tea. I usually store the herb dried though, and brew up smaller batches of hot or iced tea, as I want them. I tend to make up about 4 cups worth of tea at a time, or bigger batches if I’m going to drink it up sooner. I find it stays fresh a day or so just fine in the fridge but I don’t like storing it longer than that. I’ve never tried freezing it though! I find freezing liquids impractical because of the breakage issue…

    I would encourage you to try other kinds of mint too, if you ever get access to them. I love wooly mint or apple mint as it is sometimes called, and I love orange mint, which is a cultivar of peppermint that has an almost basil-like quality to it. I also love lemon balm, and Mondarda sp., which are also in the mint family and make good herbal teas, especially good iced ones.

    • It is definitely impractical if I am breaking jars. Usually that doesn’t happen so I’m typically happy with the results. Most will freeze in plastic, I am just not a fan of plastic. 😉 For me, to make it all at once this way is great because I don’t have to brew every time I need to make a gallon (that will only last a day or so in this house! ha!) I don’t like tea older than a day either…I think my taste buds are super sensitive to it.

      I love chocolate mint, and funny you mention lemon balm…it’s coming in my CSA box this week. 🙂 I planned on using it to make lemon balm pesto but maybe I will save a bit to try as tea. 😉 Thanks for the tips!

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