When I was 12 years old, my dad decided to plant mint in our vegetable garden. He was an avid but amateur gardener and thought it would be an easy herb to grow.
Our older neighbor tried to warn him to plant them in pots, but he didn’t listen.
He spent the entire summer battling mint runners like a plague of locusts. They took over everything.
We ate a lot of mint sauce and drank gallons of minty iced tea that summer!
Learn from our mistake and plant your mint in a pot, where it won’t get out of hand. Or, if you prefer, buy fresh mint at the grocery store and you won’t need to worry about mint runners wreaking havoc in your garden all summer long.
The most common mint plants you’ll find in gardens and groceries are peppermint and spearmint.
Peppermint has a sharp, intense flavor and a pungent, minty smell.
Spearmint has a milder, sweeter flavor and a delicate, slightly minty smell.
The difference in flavor is because peppermint contains a 40% menthol concentration, while spearmint only contains about .05% menthol concentration.
Washing Fresh Mint Leaves
If you harvest fresh mint from your garden, you’ll want to wash it thoroughly before cooking or steeping; mint leaves are slightly wrinkled and can trap dirt and grit easily.
To wash freshly harvested mint leaves:
- Pick the leaves off the stems
- Submerge them in a bowl of cold water, swishing around
- Let them sit for a minute so the dirt drops to the bottom of the bowl
- Pull out the leaves and let them dry on a towel, or toss them into a teapot for immediate use
Both peppermint and spearmint make delicious teas and tisanes.
We’ve got 3 recipes here for you that use fresh mint leaves to make wonderfully refreshing drinks any time of year.
1. Hot Mint Tea
Making hot tea with fresh mint leaves is easy. All you need is mint, water, and maybe a bit of honey.
Here’s a simple recipe for you:
- Press fresh mint leaves between your hands or roll them lightly in your fingers to release their essential oils
- Place the leaves into a teapot; a good ratio is 3 or 4 leaves for every cup
- Bring water to a boil. Pour into the pot and cover
- Let the pot steep for 5 minutes
- Pour into cups and serve hot
It can be sweetened with a drizzle of honey or garnished with a bit of lemon.
This tea is a great palate cleanser for after dinner and helps with digestion.
2. Iced Mint Tea
Iced mint tea is made in a similar manner to hot tea.
Menthol is known to have a cooling effect on the body, so if you’re in a hot climate and looking to make some extra-refreshing iced tea, use fresh peppermint leaves for this drink.
Here is our recipe:
- Place a generous handful of mint leaves in a large pitcher (remember to press or roll them in your hands to release the oils!)
- Boil 8 cups water and pour over the leaves
- Let steep for 8 to 10 minutes
- Strain out the leaves
- Refrigerate until cold
- Serve in tall glasses over ice
If you want sweetened iced tea, stir 1/2 cup of sugar or honey into the boiling water until it dissolves before pouring it into the pitcher to steep.
The sugar can be adjusted to your liking.
3. Maghrebi Mint Tea
In northern Africa, sweet green tea made with fresh mint leaves is consumed almost daily as a social activity and is the first thing prepared to welcome guests. It’s considered a potent symbol of hospitality.
Locals in the Maghreb traditionally make it with Gunpowder green tea and fresh spearmint, along with generous amounts of sugar. It’s usually syrupy sweet, but you can easily dial back the sugar if you prefer.
This kind of mint tea is sometimes made in a ceremonial manner, with the liquid being poured back and forth between a cup and the teapot repeatedly to mix the sugar well, and then poured dramatically into serving cups from a height to create a foam layer at the top of the glass.
It doesn’t have to be made with this kind of flourish, though. It’s a deceptively simple kind of tea to brew. We’ve provided basic, no-nonsense instructions for you:
- Place a handful of fresh mint leaves and 2 heaping spoonfuls of sugar into your teapot
- Add 3 heaping spoonfuls of loose green tea or 3 tea bags. Gunpowder is traditional, but any kind of green tea will do
- Fill the teapot with boiling water and let sit for 4 to 5 minutes total time
- When it’s steeped, open the lid and stir with a spoon to distribute the sugar
- Pour through a strainer into cups and serve hot
This is a lovely tea to make for company, but you can also drink it at any time of day for a refreshing break.
The Final Word in Making Fresh Mint Tea
No matter what time of year it is or how much havoc it has created in your garden, fresh mint can be utilized to make invigorating hot and cold beverages for any occasion.
Mint-infused teas are known to help with digestive issues, create a cooling effect in the body, and can help clear and soothe sinuses in people dealing with allergies or a common cold.
Making mint tea a regular part of your diet is a healthy habit to cultivate!
FAQs on How to Make Fresh Mint Tea
Is fresh mint tea good for you?
Yes! Mint tea is caffeine and calorie-free (as long as there’s no sugar added). Research is also showing that ingesting fresh mint keeps your digestive system humming, sweetens your breath, and can reduce nasal congestion and allergy symptoms.
How do you use fresh mint leaves?
Mint leaves are versatile. They can be used for cooking and baking: Try adding them to pesto, yogurt, or salad. The whole leaves can be added to bathwater for a stress-relieving soak. Or make yourself a Mojito!