Nov 12, 2011

Mint Tea ~ A Family Tradition

When I was a young girl, my great-grandfather grew mint around his farm. Here and there, I would come across the smell, then look and look until I found it. To this day when I smell it I think of "Opa" (grandfather in German), and how he loved to tend gardens of both flowers and vegetables,
and I remember his gentle nature and sweet smile.

Here are my great-grandparents, Louise and Frederick Mueller, who came from Germany in 1927 on a steamer ship. Our daughter, Kaitie, uses the trunk they brought their belongings in to decorate her home. I should tell their life story sometime.

 Here's a little preview...

 He was Russian & German. She was Polish. He used his mother's maiden name instead of his given name, Mesekow, because of World War I . You see, it was not good to be a Russian living in Germany at that time. In the war, he was wounded on the head by a Russian Cossack as he ducked behind a fallen tree. The horse soldier had jumped the tree and hit him with a sword.

It seems like the our ancestors' stories are so much more interesting than our's sometimes.

Not that I want that to happen to me.

His profession was a gardener. He created and kept wonderful gardens for important people.

Though I'm a far cry from a wonderful gardener, I also do what I do for some important people.
 Our family and friends!

Over the years, I have learned to enjoy watching plants grow and the good things they produce...
and I wish I had Opa here now to ask him a million questions.

~ ~ ~ ~
Well, I started this post talking about, back to the mint.
It is very good for you and it's very simple to use...

The first step in this process is finding a mint plant!
We happened to find one growing by our creek. Can you believe it?!
So we just transplanted it to a spot by the house.
I believe Lowes, Walmart and the like, sell it too.

There is peppermint and what I have, spearmint. Peppermint is stronger and has stronger medicinal properties. I think I will add some to the herb garden come springtime. Spearmint is easy to grow, but it does not like very dry soil. It will produce essential oils in a sunny location, but also grows in part shade. The plant will spread, but can easily be divided and transplanted (or given as gifts). Small spiked flowers bloom in late June through August. Gather the mint by cutting the stalks a few inches above the root when the plant is first starting to bloom. Do this on a dry day, but before the sun gets too hot and the oil is drawn from the leaves. 

Mint is used to treat fevers, headaches, digestive disorders, and a variety of minor ailments. Spearmint is thought to have agents that reduce vomiting, relieve and remove gas from the digestive system and give strength and tone to the stomach.  It is also made into a poultice to relieve bruising and used in folk remedies against cancer. Again, both are good, but peppermint is the stronger of the the two.    

Rats and mice intensely dislike the smell of mint, hence it was used as a strewing plant. It was strewn all around (tossed around the house) to keep rodents away. 

Here is mint drying in our kitchen. (See, no mice.)

After cutting the sprigs from the plant, I wash them and let them dry a bit in a colander. 
Then I tie the mint in bunches with cotton string and hang it to dry.
It will dry in a handful of days. 

After it dries, I pull the leaves off. 
Well, it's more like crumbling them away from the stems.

I firmly hold the bunch of mint in one hand and use my other hand
 to squeeze and work the leaves from the stems collecting them in a bowl.

Pick out any stem pieces that fall into the leaves.  

Then find a pretty jar, or any jar you want, to store it in.
I like this 1/2 pint jelly jar.

You also will want a tea scoop. I realize there is probably a more appropriate name for this, but that seems to fit. So, you need a "tea scoop."  Or, I am thinking cheese cloth or some other fine material would work to contain the leaves. Just tie it tightly. 

I always have a few little green leaves in my tea. 
I like that.

 The Tea Scoop in action. :) 

I fill the bottom of it with a few pinches of mint leaves- about a teaspoon.

Place it in your favorite fifty cent cup from the thrift store, because that makes it taste better, 
and add boiling water. Let it steep 3-5 minutes.

I swirl the tea around and let it steep longer since I like a strong mint flavor. 

Then add some home grown raw honey from your neighbor, if you have a neighbor that sells honey.
 If not, go get some from your health food store. It is so much better for you than store bought! 


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