Mint tea

Come winter, you'll hear me wax poetic about hot drinks to warm you to the bones when it's freezing outside.  But right now, I'm all about the summer drinks to refresh you when the sun's beating down.

We were at the farmers' market (Union Square, of course) last weekend and there was a stand (the name of which I can never remember) that had iced mint tea.  Two big coolers full of tea and two small chests with ice.  You can get a small 6 oz cup for $1.00 or a 12 oz cup for $1.50.  Bug begged me to get a cup and, after talking to the purveyor, I learned that the tea had a scant amount of caffeine; other than that, it was sweetened with local farmers' market maple syrup.  Bug and I both had a glass (Adam hates mint so he passed) and it was incredible.  You know when you just drink that perfect drink on a hot day and you just sigh and say, "Ahhhhhh!" when you drink it?  Well, that was this drink.

Naturally, I immediately realized that I could easily make this on my own.  So I bought myself a bunch of mint and went home to give it a go.  I separated the mint into these long tea bags I have:

But I think you could probably put the mint right in the water and then strain it out.  As the water was about to boil, I took it off the stove and let it steep on the countertop for about 10 minutes.  I took out the bags, squeezing the water out of them before tossing them, and then stirred in maple syrup.  Of course I tasted it, tasted it, tasted it to make sure I was adding the right amount of syrup.  Once I got it to the right amount of sweetness, I added it to a pitcher:

And I sipped all week long.  Absolutely wonderful.

Today we went back to the market and bought another cup of their iced tea.  Bug noticed a card with the ingredients: mint, maple syrup, sugar, lemon juice, lime juice.  We didn't add sugar, lemon, or lime to our tea; Bug told me that she didn't think we needed the sugar since it was sweetened with the syrup.  We did agree, though, that lemon and lime juice would be awesome additions.  So we'll try that next.  And that, in a nutshell, is why I love cooking and creating in the kitchen.  Last weeks' tea was great.  But let's add lemon and lime juice to see what will happen.  Maybe it'll be even better.  Maybe it won't.  It's always interesting and always fresh because even I don't know what will come out of my kitchen sometimes.

Eat, drink, and refresh.


Beth S. said...

That sounds delish!

Sam @ Parenthetical said...

Yum! Did you use fresh mint? I just tried making tea with fresh mint last night (it smelled so good in my garden, and lord knows there's plenty of it), but it wasn't nearly as flavorful as when I use dried. Maybe I didn't use enough?

Unknown said...

Sam, funny you mention this...I made this tea last weekend with local mint I bought through Fresh Direct. This weekend, I made it again with a bunch of mint from Union Square...and it was borderline gross. I poured the whole thing out. The mint itself tasted completely different - clearly, it was a different breed (is "breed" the right word for plants?). So I amend this post, adding that the type of mint you use is super important.

But my mint issues aside, I'm guessing you didn't use enough. You need to use A LOT of fresh herbs in something like this - I estimate that I used the equivalent of about 4-5 cups of mint for a half-gallon water.