Peppermint: Easy to Grow, Makes Great Drinks.

peppermint in my garden

A brightening, caffeine-free tea that settles the stomach? Or an exciting mojito (recipes below)? It’s up to you.

Peppermint is so easy to grow it’s actually considered invasive. If you don’t have an outdoor space you can grow it in a pot.

When I first planted a peppermint plant it was on impulse: I noticed it in passing at a garden shop, small and manageable, minty smelling with adorable little tear-shaped leaves–and for less than $5. A steal! I added it to my shopping cart and planted it next to my porch – a spot that got limited sun.

I was a young working mother with no free time, perpetually exhausted and chasing my toddler, who I knew would not collect thorns or be poisoned by my selection, close as it was to the walkway from driveway to back door. After planting it and giving it the first and only water it ever got from me, I forgot about it.

Not minding my neglect, the peppermint thrived. One day I noticed it had begun to spread and was growing tallish – reaching about 12 inches off the ground. I reached to touch the leaves and they released a beautiful, minty aroma, popping back into their leggy rambling habit. I felt a rush of gratitude at the gift of a sweet smelling plant next to my stoop, and my love for herbs was born.

Autumn came, and I couldn’t bear to watch it die back unused so I went out with scissors and cut the long stems, bunched and wrapped them with string, and hung them to dry for tea.

A note – peppermint and spearmint are different. They can both be used to mix these drinks but having done a comparison I like peppermint better than spearmint.

Different kinds of mint. Chocolate mint on the left, peppermint on the right. Both are delicious.

To make peppermint tea you can simply hang the stems in an airy place to dry. When they are ready, strip the leaves by holding the stem in one hand and running two fingers along the remainder of the stem; they come away easily. Or you can dry them on a cookie sheet with the heat set to a low temp for 2-3 hours. Crush the leaves between your fingers or with a mortar and pestle to release the oil before pouring boiling water over them and allowing the tea to steep for 5 minutes. Peppermint tea is settling to the stomach, can be given in a dropper for colic, and is brightening and refreshing to drink. Delicious with honey, lemon, and milk or cream.

For a mojito:

  • 10 fresh mint leaves
  • 1/2 lime, cut into 4 wedges
  • 1/2 cup club soda
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 ounces of rum (or as much as you like)

Muddle the leaves and one lime wedge together in a glass to release the oil and juice. Add 2 more lime wedges and the sugar and muddle more to release the lime juice into the sugar. Add ice to the glass, pour the rum over the ice, add the club soda or carbonated water and stir. Garnish with the 4th lime wedge and you’re in business.

Now that’s versatility!

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