Random Bits of Projects

September 11, 2008

Mint Tea: Grow Your Own

Last update: Oct. 30, 2008. Pictures added.

Do you love mint tea or mint in your tea? You can grow and dry your own very easily. You can then have ready, good quality leaves for a nice hot cup or add some leaves to other tea that you are steeping for a hint of mint. This is also good for people who wish to be sure their tea is organic or pesticide free.

Growing indoors:

The only challenge (for me) is growing the mint. After much trial and error, I have found that keeping pots of it indoors near the window works best for me. I do not place it right next to the window but about 6-9 inches away. In FL the heat is too much and in other areas, the cold may be too much right next to the window. You need to water every day or nearly every day. Mint is very sensitive to water loss. I even spray the leaves on occasion. Just be sure to avoid rot. I also have slow release fertilizer sticks in the soil.

To go super organic, you may need to change the soil. I was more concerned with pesticides so I cannot help you with the soil. Perhaps you can find mint already growing in organic soil. You can grow mint from seed as well if you have a green thumb.

Bugs:

Do you get those little black gnat-like bugs infesting your herbs? I take a dedicated spray bottle and put a tiny amount of dish soap into the water. It does not take much. A light soap spray keeps them off and will be harmless to you. At first I had to spray every few days. Now that they are under control, I spray every few weeks.

Harvesting and Prepping:

When the mint gets to a length you like (I often wait until it is a foot long), go through and carefully cut off the stems. Leave about 3-4 inches behind in the pot so it can grow out again. I usually cut after watering. While removing the mint you want, go through and remove dead stuff while you are at it. Pile your harvest in a colander and rinse gently to get dust, soap, and what every else may be on there rinsed off. Scan your harvest for any bad looking leaves that are brown, rotty, or possibly buggy.

Shake off excess water and lay out on a towel. Pull apart the stems and gather them together at the end where you cut. I like to pile them by similar size so I can then bundle them that way. Take a plastic wrapped, wire twist-tie and secure a bundle together at the cut ends, leaving long ends of the twist tie free (slightly blurry picture below, right). Use the long ends of the twist tie for hanging the mint bundles. Be sure not to bundle too much mint at once. As long as air can circulate through the bundle, you should be fine. If in doubt, thin out your bundles until you have a better feel for it. You want the cut ends tied and the uncut ends hanging down.

Hanging:

Hang your bundles where you will have great air circulation and out of your way. Air conditioning is nice and drying by the way. Do not place in the sun but somewhere fairly dark or ambient light. I have hung mine in the kitchen out of the way and that worked fine. Be sure it is located where it will not get splattered or anything on it while drying. If you have good air circulation, you can probably get it dry enough in a week or slightly less.

Not sure you can keep the bundles clean while they hang (dust)? Take a paper bag that is longer than your bundles. Cut holes or slits all along mint-dried-in-bagthe sides to let in air. Dangle your bundle inside the bag and secure to the lip of the bag. Paper clip the bag shut or lightly cap it with a paper towel (shown in picture). Try to get as much mint dangling free and not against the bag. Also be sure the mint is spaced so there is air circulation. Do not pack the bag. You can sprinkle material on the bottom that absorbs moisture if you wish (list of that coming later). The drying time may take a little longer in the bag but it works great as long as it gets air and does not stay damp inside. I do this when I have a lot to dry and cannot put it in my kitchen for lack of room. It takes several bags though to avoid over packing them. Be sure you let the mint hang for a few hours outside of the bag after washing so excess moisture is not sitting on the leaves when in the bag.

The above two pictures show some mint bundles hanging in a bag before covering (left) and after about a week (right).

You can also dry in the oven and other devices. I will provide links here when I can. Since I have not used these methods, I do not want to give directions without knowing how well it works. These methods are faster but I am not sure how the oils in the leaves are effected.

The leaves should be a dusty or dark green and crumble between your fingers when finished drying.

Storing:

When finished drying pull the leaves off as best you can and discard the stems. I often slide my fingers along the stems against the direction that the leaves are hanging. They pop off fairly well. Not perfect. I often have a little bit of mess but most gets where you want them to go.

Store in a jar or container for tea leaves. I use old Republic of Tea containers.

There are many kinds of mint out there. If you get more than one kind, be sure to mark the pot. I forgot to do this so my mint is a little mixed. Oh well. That is what I get for thinking I would remember.

Note: This works great for catnip (use for cats only, not tea unless you women like to have your time of month become worse), and I have dried basil this way. I am sure this works for most herbs but I have not tried it.

Using: To make tea with just the mint, heat water to almost a roiling boil and pour into your mug. Put a few good pinches of the leaves into an infuser (something that keeps the leaves from floating free in the water-pictures soon) and place that into the mug. Let steep a few minutes or until desired strength. You may have to experiment a few times to determine the right amount of leaves to use and/or how long to let it sit. Be sure to remove the leaves before drinking. 🙂

To add a hint of mint, just add a pinch to whatever tea you plan to use and steep according to the directions of the main tea. For less mint flavor, you can wait a few minutes before adding the mint if you have a tea that needs to steep for awhile. You can use tea bag tea with the mint tea in its own infuser (sp?).

I also like it when brewing tea for iced tea. A little mint is refreshing.

Bucky, my Parrotlet, thinks he needs to help with this.

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9 Comments »

  1. Thank you so much!!!!! You have been so helpful! I have been wanting to do this for a bit now but do not know where to get the mint or seeds!! lol any suggestions?

    Comment by danielle — November 2, 2008 @ 12:49 pm | Reply

  2. In response to #1, danielle:
    The best mint I have found around where I am is at Home Depot of all places. Mint is getting out of season so you might have to look around now, but come spring, there should be a variety of mint to choose from (peppermint, mint (regular), spearmint, and so on). I have also found plants in some grocery stores and a few nurseries. I find that mint does not always start hardy but once it gets going in a spot it likes, it grows like a weed. I split mine up into a few pots, and tried a few places at once to maximize the odds of finding the right spot. It took a few tries before I had any luck but now it grows great. Just watch the cold by the window in the winter. I do not know how well it grows from seed so I cannot suggest anything there.
    Glad the site helps! And thank you for letting me know! 😀

    Comment by virtuallyamy — November 2, 2008 @ 3:40 pm | Reply

  3. This was very informational! I’ll have to try this one day.

    Comment by Lauren O. — November 2, 2008 @ 11:45 pm | Reply

  4. Thanks! I’m in MN and have grown peppermint in my back yard for years because it’s rumored to repel mosquitoes and other bugs (I think it works). It, of course, only grows in summer and to about 18-24 inches high. This year I’ll try drying some for tea. Thank you for giving me some pointers and confidence to go ahead.

    Comment by Suzanne — March 18, 2009 @ 5:44 pm | Reply

    • HI! I am so happy this was helpful! I have mint at so many windows now that I give it away. The leaves do seem to be smaller when they grow inside I am noticing. But the soap spray works well. Just keep up with the watering. I did not know about the mosquitoes! I will definitely have to give it a try. Have plenty of those in FL. Thanks!

      Comment by virtuallyamy — March 22, 2009 @ 7:45 pm | Reply

  5. A single leaf of fresh mint in the bottom of the cup you’re preparing tea in is my favorite!

    Comment by Dana — February 25, 2011 @ 2:55 pm | Reply

  6. Love Mint Tea! I have a pot of mint growing on the patio (FL) partially shaded. Growing nicely. I use the leaves for Mojitos. Another way you can dry herbs is by placing between two of the accordion style air conditioning filters and place over a box fan. You may have to secure the filters together and weigh it on the box fan to keep it from blowing off. This should speed up the process.

    Comment by Anonymous — May 4, 2012 @ 6:59 pm | Reply

  7. Do you know how long the dried mint leaves keep? Thanks for all of your great information!

    Comment by Sandy — September 6, 2012 @ 3:36 pm | Reply

    • Not sure. Obviously the newer, the fresher. If they are completely dry and sealed, the mint should last a very long time. Mine has. I do not get through it the fastest.

      Comment by virtuallyamy — September 11, 2012 @ 4:18 pm | Reply


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