Mint is one of the most versatile herbs to grow in any garden. It is one of the most common tea plants used across the globe for millenniums. Its irreplaceable flavor and awe-inspiring aroma have been an inspiration for kings, tzars, rulers, philosophers, poets, and artists from the Northern coast of Africa to the Middle East and literally every inhabited place on Earth.
Mint tea is one of the top favorite teas in the world, often associated with tummy discomfort alleviation. Mint leaves can be used for tea preparation by themselves or added to different brews for additional aroma.
What Are the Different Types of Mint Leaves?
Mint is an aromatic herb with invasive nature, and it needs to be harvested quite often before it overgrows the entire garden/balcony.
There are hundreds of mint plant varieties, but not all of them are suitable for tea preparation. Some mint leaves are perfect for cosmetics, culinary recipes, and drinks, while the following list of mint varieties is perfect for an aromatic brew with irresistible flavor:
- Woolly mint
- Pineapple mint
- Ginger mint
- Orange mint
- Chocolate mint
- Lavender mint
- Licorice mint
- Water mint
- Basil mint
- Field mint
- Red Raripila mint
However, the most commonly used mint leaves for tea are Spearmint and Peppermint leaves.
Mint vs. Spearmint for Tea
Mint (Peppermint) is the most beloved variety of its genus due to its 40% content of menthol. Spearmint, on the other hand, only has 0.5% of menthol, but it boasts a sweeter taste.
Peppermint is actually a hybrid between Spearmint and Water mint where it gets the high menthol content from.
Mint tea releases a pungent and menthol aroma that unclogs the respiratory system after the first sip. It’s usually used alone as its flavor is too dominant and overtakes any other herb. However, some people like to add a few crushed leaves to their regular Green tea for cutting the leafy, earthy flavor.
Spearmint leaves are more subtle, offering sweet flavor and gentle menthol touch, and they are mostly mixed with other tea blends rather than brewed alone. This mint variety finds wide usage in cocktail and food recipes.
How to Dry Mint Leaves for Tea?
Drying mint leaves for tea is an extremely easy process, especially if you have a dark and warm area in your home free of humidity.
You can either pick dry leaves from the stems, place them on paper towels, and lay them in a dark spot, or harvest fresh mint leaves and dry them in an oven.
The second method is recommended for high amounts of fresh mint that might get infected by fungus if left to air dry on their own. To make sure the mint leaves dry and do not burn, spread them on a cookie sheet and dry them for two hours at 180 F or 80 C.
Have in mind to only have one layer of mint leaves at a time and dry until crisp and brittle. Check on your mint leaves all the time so they won’t burn.
In case you have a highly-ventilated balcony, you can tie a bundle o mint stems and let the leaves air dry until you can crush them with one touch.
How Many Mint Leaves for a Cup of Tea?
Mint tea is best when brewed with dry leaves but if you don’t have them ready, you can also use fresh mint leaves for your tea.
Remember that when used fresh, herbs are not as potent, so it’s best to use more.
For a cup of tasty mint tea prepared with fresh leaves, you will need around eight leaves while 4-5 crushed dry leaves.
How to Preserve Mint Leaves for Tea?
There are many methods for preserving mint leaves for tea and they are all simple and easy to do.
As mentioned earlier, the best leaves for tea are dried ones, so you want to preserve your mint leaves by using one of the drying methods such as air drying (1-2 weeks), oven drying (180F or 80C for 2 hrs), or 1-2 minutes in the microwave.
When the mint leaves are completely dry, you can store them in a glass jar or airtight container and use them as needed.
Preserving mint leaves by freezing is another cool option to have in mind. Wash your mint leaves, remove them from the stems, get rid of all the dry and damaged leaves, and then chop them.
Fill your ice trays up to half with chopped mint leaves and the rest with water. Let it freeze for a few hours and unfreeze whenever you need to make fresh mint tea, a soup, or a cocktail.
How to Prepare Mint Leaves for Tea?
Once the mint leaves are dried and stored in airtight containers, they are halfway ready for brewing.
Crushing dry mint leaves before storing them is an excellent way to release more aroma and make it easier to portion.
A tablespoon of crushed dry mint leaves equals 4-5 leaves, and that’s a perfect measure for one cup of tea.
Add the crushed leaves to a teapot with boiling water, reusable tea bag, infuser, or strainer, and let them steep for a few minutes before serving.
Can I Drink Mint Tea While Pregnant?
Mint tea is one of the best herbal tisanes for pregnant women, as it can’t harm the mother or the baby.
Peppermint or what we commonly call mint is definitely the tastiest mint variety for tea thanks to the strong menthol aroma and refreshing tones that unite in an aromatic cup of tea.
An excellent choice for cultivating, harvesting, drying, and brewing tea in any home and in any climate, mint tea is a true green gold with a wide spectrum of usage in tea blends and cocktail mixes.
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