Hint: Mojitos miiight be involved.

By Stacey Ballis
July 16, 2020
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When explaining to friends that I cannot grow anything, all I ever need to offer for evidence is that I killed mint. Gardeners everywhere understand that mint is a weed and if left unchecked will completely take over your beds. So when I tell people I managed to kill mint, everyone stops offering helpful tips and tricks for gardening and acknowledges that not everyone should be in charge of growing green things.

The sad part is that I love mint. The happy part is that my friends who do have mint in their gardens are more than happy to share their bounty, because they know when it is time to wrangle their mint, I will receive it by the bushel most happily.

Mint Use #1: Mint Tea

Not only do I love mint in recipes of all sorts, but in our house, fresh mint is the key to summer hydration—it makes every drink, hot or cold, doubly delicious and refreshing, and mint itself brings a healthy boost to all those summer gulps. From aiding digestion to offering potential relief for headaches and helping you focus, this is an awesome herb to have in your glass.

But there's a little hitch: Most recipes you find for mint tea online involve actual tea in bags or loose leaf, and often some added sugar. And while those are delicious, there’s a better and actually easier way to enjoy mint in your glass.

Think about making what’s called a tisane—an herbal infusion made simply with water and all that fresh mint hauled from the garden. This is sugar free, gluten free, dairy free, vegan, keto, paleo, perfectly refreshing mint tea. In mint season, you can make it like I do, every single day.

How to Make Mint Tea

HOT: Muddle one small stem of fresh mint in the bottom of your teacup and pour boiling water over it and let steep for 5 minutes, then pull out the stem. You’ll have a wonderful hot beverage that you can sweeten if you choose, but I like it plain. It settles the stomach, especially after a big meal, is caffeine free, so a great evening tea, and with some sugar and a splash of milk, a good soothing alternative to hot chocolate or warm milk for kids before bed.

ICED: Boil a big kettle of water, take 3-4 long stems of mint and fold them into a packet, giving it a gentle twist to bruise the leaves, and drop it into a heat-safe 2-liter pitcher. Pour the boiling water over the leaves, filling the pitcher to the brim, and let steep till the liquid has cooled to room temp. Remove the mint, most of which should still be attached to the stem, and discard it, and put the pitcher in the fridge to cool. We drink it cold all day long—it’s minty but not toothpaste-flavored or mouthwashy, just super refreshing and hydrating.

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Mint Use #1: Mint Syrup 

A great secondary way to take advantage of that abundance of mint (especially if it’s starting to fade or even just wilting a little) is to make a slightly sweetened mint syrup. Think how handy it will be to have that homemade touch of mint for quickie mojitos (not to mention making the mint julep more of a regular in your bar rotation). The Italians like to drink a cool minted milk in the afternoon, and with this syrup at hand, you might want to get into that glorious habit as well.

How to Make Mint Syrup

1. Measure 2 cups of packed mint leaves and put into a food processor with 1/3 cup of granulated sugar.

2. Blend into a coarse paste, then put it in a small saucepan. Add 1 cup of water.

3. Bring to a boil and cook for two minutes.

4. Remove from heat and let steep for 30 more minutes at room temperature.

5. Your syrup is ready to use at this point, but you can also strain it through a fine mesh strainer for an even clearer product.

6. Store in a bottle in the refrigerator.