Harvest and Dry Mint for Tea
I often harvest and dry mint for tea here in the kitchen garden. The fragrant leaves and hot water is all I need to take a nice break from the computer.
Mint is probably my kid's favorite herb. I remember it being mine too when I was a child. It just reminds me of my childhood on an island on the coast outside Gothenburg. I grew up there, playing in the large mint bed that seemed to spread out almost uncontrollably. We harvested in summer but decided to dry mint and use it for tea in winter instead.
Mint in pots
I grow some mint here on Oak Hill too, but not at all as much as my mother used to. Unlike her, I grow it in pots. Simply because I don't have a space large enough for it. I know first-hand how much it can spread, which is why I thought that pots might be more manageable. One favorite mint variety here is actually a chocolate mint. It's just perfect for any summery dessert or drink. And then I save some dried mint for tea too of course!
You don't need to do very much to get your mint to thrive in the pots, as long as you give it water of course. Why not buy a few plants in the garden center. Just make sure to use good-quality soil for your pots.
Mint spreads with the root system. This is important to remember. If you don't want your mint to spread, then you should definitely put your pot on a tray and make sure that it can't climb over to another adjacent pot. You could also put your pot somewhere where you know it won't root.
The mint tastes best before it blooms, but the flowers are actually really enjoyable for humans and insects alike. If you want both flowers and mint though, then you can always use two different pots. One where you let it bloom and another where you don't.
The mint stalks actually sprout new little shoots where the leaves branch off. So when I harvest, I cut the stalk right above a pair of leaves with a few new shoots. And then I keep doing it all over the plant.
After that, the mint will grow again and then I can harvest it with the same method right before it comes close to bolting the next time.
How to dry mint
I can usually cut a few handfuls of mint several times each summer. One pot of mint isn't a huge amount of course, but it's enough for me here in my cottage garden. I try to save most of my mint until winter, by drying it. You can tie a few mint plants together and hang them inside to dry. But you can of course just as well dry mint on a tray, if you cut it into smaller pieces.
One of my most vivid childhood memories is of my mother, carrying a large green tray filled with mint that my siblings and I got to tear into smaller pieces. And then, we put the mint shreds in tea jars. My kids get to do the same thing here at home. It smells absolutely lovely!
Mint tea is not only delicious, but really easy to make too:
- put fresh or dried mint leaves in a tea pot
- pour boiling water in the pot
- let it brew for a little while
- pour the tea through a sieve before serving
You probably know how delicious tea with honey is. Mint tea with honey is an especially good combination if you happen to have a sore throat. But it tastes amazing at any occasion of course. You can also put your mint in a water pitcher, make mint ice cubes, shred a little mint on top of fresh berries or use it for drinks or sauces. For example yogurt sauce with mint leaves. So good!