Growing up in a household with an English mother, our life seemed to revolve around tea time. We had it at breakfast, bedtime, and at various other intervals throughout the day. It was at the core of both social gatherings and time spent alone. In the GCC culinary & medicinal garden, we had many wonderful herbs growing, but peppermint was always one of my favorites. I learned that the process of making homemade loose-leaf tea was actually quite easy and enjoyable.
There are many different types of mint: peppermint, spearmint, chocolate mint, pineapple mint, apple mint, and so on. The good thing about mint is that they’re perennial, but they also grow very quickly and probably require a rhizome barrier. Peppermint is delicious and also has medicinal uses: acts as a stimulant, helps to relieve the common cold, cough, inflammation of the mouth and throat, and respiratory infections. It also helps to relieve digestive and menstrual discomfort.
Once you’re ready to harvest, it’s best to do so in the morning because that’s when the oils are the strongest. Rinse with water after clipping, and tie together in bundles with a rubber band. Air circulation is key when drying peppermint. Trapped moisture will not only slow the drying process but can also possibly cause mildew to form (a basement is not an ideal location). You’ll want to hang the bundles somewhere warm with good air circulation (you want the temperature to be between 70F and 120F). The mint should be dry within one to four weeks depending on the temperature.
The leaves are the edible part, so strip the leaves from the stem over a large bowl. They should come off cleanly and crisply. If you prefer, rip the leaves into smaller pieces with your hands. Keep the leaves in an air-tight container, such as mason jar or tea tin, and store them away from direct sunlight. When tea time comes around, you may put some mint in a tea ball, tea strainer, or directly into a mug. Pour in boiling water and let sit for about five minutes and add a sweetener if desired. Enjoy in hot or cold weather!