As long as I can remember, I have been harvesting mint for fresh brewed tea. Not because it’s quite healthy, as I’ve learned recently, but because drink it tastes so good. It has always made me feel great! The farm I grew up on had a marshy area and there was a ton of spearmint growing there. My siblings and I would take several trips there picking handfuls of mint. We couldn’t wait for the water to boil; eager and excited for our tea! Half of the time, we didn’t even wash it, adding a little “protein” to our drinks. Picking out a spider from the steeping mint was just part of the job. It’s one of my fondest childhood memories.
Now, here are a few facts about mint you may not know. There is over 460 different types of mint in the world. Most have been used for herbal medications and drinks in different societies throughout history. There has even been archaeological evidence that mint was used as a dietary supplement for over 10,000 years!
In Morocco, mint tea is a traditional afternoon hot drink known as Toureg tea, which is brewed fresh with mint, sugar and green tea and traditionally served to guests. Coming in three unique servings, each with a different meaning; representing life, love and death. All three are served to the guest, and it is considered impolite to not consume all three.
The Kentucky Derby also boats a long tradition for serving Mint Juleps; a drink made up of spearmint leaves, bourbon, simple syrup and crushed ice, and served in a silver or pewter cup. It is unclear how the drink came synonymous with the derby, but every May Churchill Downs serves close to 120,000 Juleps over the two day derby race weekend!
Peppermint is a native of Europe, but its
popularity has spread this hardy plant all over the world. Throughout history, peppermint has been used to improve digestion, and help ease other digestive issues. It is also said to reduce pain and inflammation, relax the body and mind, cure bad breath, aid in weight loss and boost the immune system. I’ve also heard of it being used to reduce fevers by inducing external sweating, while the menthol cools down the body from the inside out.
When I first moved down to Lane County about 26 years ago, I was delighted to find that the swampy area we had on our property had wild peppermint growing. As we settled in to our new home, I quickly propagated some mint into a raised bed and have enjoyed it ever since. This time of year, I like to steep a big batch of it, drinking the freshly brewed tea hot. I’ll chill the rest in the fridge and save it to drink as an iced tea during the hotter summer days.
The only drawback of raising mint is that it loves to spread with underground runners! It can be raised in large containers, or if you have the room, you can let it grow wild and spread out. Make sure to keep an eye on it: trust me, it moves fast! Mint loves lots of moisture and full sun, especially in the morning and afternoon.
View our Simple and Delicious Mint recipes!
Be sure to share your experiences or mint-infused creations with us in the comment sections below!