Making a cuppa, from scratch

23:45, Nov 01 2012

Last year was the first year I've grown peppermint. I mistakenly planted it in my herb garden rather than in a pot. Mints sent out runners, which creep underground and pop up where you least expect them.

My peppermint was quite an explorer, coming up for air in the middle of my strawberries, attempting to tunnel under the other herbs, and generally trying to take over the world. It also grew profusely from the original clump, so I cut it all back and put it in a paper bag to dry. And then a couple of weeks ago I discovered that paper bag hanging in my wardrobe. So I made tea.

I always thought there must be some secret, magical, time consuming and fiddly process that goes into making tea leaves, but it's actually dead simple. I simply stripped the dried leaves off their stems, crunched them up in my hands, and there it was, tea. I've been told by people who drink peppermint tea that it's actually not a bad drop. 

I'm so proud, it's my very first peppermint vintage. 

Growing peppermint is a cinch; you can either buy a plant from the garden centre, or even better, take a cutting of it from a friend's plant. Put a stem in a glass of water (strip the bottom leaves off so they're not in the water too) and over the next week or two it will grow roots along the stem. You can also dig up a runner and use that. Pot this up, keep moist, and watch as it goes supernova. The best time to harvest your peppermint is before it flowers or while it's still budding, and early in the morning after the dew has dried off. This is when the oils that give the leaves their flavour are at their peak. 

I dried my stems in a paper bag in my wardrobe, partly because I don't like bunches of herbs all over the place, I think they look like something out of an 80s décor magazine, next to the macramé, and to keep the dust off them. You don't want to hang them in plastic bags, because they'll just moulder rather than dry. I also dry oregano this way, and crunch it into small jars for use over the winter. 

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I'm so inspired by how easy it is to make peppermint tea, that I may venture into the mysterious world of making my own black tea from scratch. Wish me luck.

In other news, this weekend is tomato planting weekend! Praying that the weather doesn't pack in as soon as my babies are in the soil...

Have you made your own tea from scratch? Do you have mints in your garden?

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