When I was young, my mom would take us to my aunt and uncle's old farmhouse in rural Pennsylvania to pick peppermint, spearmint, and wooly leaf tea in their creekside meadow. All kinds of mint grow very well in moist, well-drained locations, which makes meadows, which often have a water source of some kind, excellent harvesting locations for wild mint.
Once home, my mom would boil water in three of her largest pots, steep the tea, sweeten it to taste, and pour it into old glass milk jars purchased from a local dairy. While there was tea in the refrigerator, we hardly drank anything else. It is one of my favorite beverages, and one of the most refreshing drinks for summer. Various people have asked me how to make meadow tea, and the truth is that everyone's procedure differs, but I'll try to give you the gist here.
- One bunch peppermint, spearmint, or woolly (apple) mint (about as much as you can hold in one hand, and a combination of mints makes the best tea)
- Approximately 64 oz. water (more if you have a particularly large bunch of leaves, or much more if you have shopping bags full like my mother)
- Your choice of sweetener (white sugar, raw sugar, and honey have all worked well for me; I imagine agave would be good too)
- I know some people will want a specific amount of sweetener to add. I can't help you there. The level of sweetness is the most variable part of this recipe. Some little Amish ladies make their meadow tea as sweet as Southern sweet tea, which is entirely too much for me. Others use honey and others hate honey. Use whatever you find most palatable, and add gradually, tasting as you go along. I recommend sweetening while the tea is still hot, and stopping just short of where you'd like the sweetness to be, as I find the drink seems sweeter when cold.
- If your hot tea has a lot of sediment in it, let it sit for a few minutes and then ladle out into your containers. The dirt will settle to the bottom, and the boiling water will have neutralized any harmful elements. Especially if you collected your mint from a natural meadow or organic garden, you shouldn't have any issues, and bugs rarely bother mint plants.
- I've never tried adding fruit or any other herb to my mint tea, as the taste is too nostalgic for me to meddle with, but you should totally go for it. My first picks would be strawberries, raspberries, or lemon balm.