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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

California Gourmet: Making Tea From California Native Mint Leaves

California Wild Mint (Mentha arvensis) is native to moist areas in much of California & the west.
It is found locally in the San Bernardino Mountains

Plants in the Mint family (Lamiaceae) grow throughout the world.  In addition to being great butterfly & hummingbird plants, their leaves are often fragrant.  Some of the most flavorful teas can be made from leaves & flowers of plants in the Mint family, including California native mints.   Our own personal favorites are California Wild Mint (Mentha arvensis), Hummingbird Sage (Salvia spathacea) and Fragrant Pitchersage (Lepechinia fragrans).

Hummingbird Sage (Salvia spathacea) grows in coastal areas
 of S. California. It makes a great shady groundcover


Fragrant Pitchersage (Lepechinia fragrans) grows in the Santa Monica Mountains
 and on Catalina Island. It's leaves have a wonderful, unique fragrance
 - a favorite for hot or cold tea.


You can make hot or cold tea from fresh leaves of Wild Mint, Hummingbird Sage and Fragrant Pitchersage – or you can dry the leaves for later use.  Making tea from fresh or dried leaves is easy – just be sure to make your tea using non-metal bowls/cups/pots & utensils.

You’ll need one medium (3-4 inch) leaf of Hummingbird Sage or Pitchersage (or a 2-3 inch sprig of mint) per cup of tea.  Wash the leaves with cool water.  Tear/cut the leaves and place them in a cup or heat-proof container. Pour very hot (just below boiling) water over the leaves and let steep to taste.  Remove the leaves, strain (if needed) and your hot tea is ready.  You may want to add a little honey or sugar if you like a sweeter tea.
 
For making a batch of iced tea, we prefer to make a concentrated tea, then dilute it to taste. Prepare the leaves and place 20-30 prepared leaves in a large (4 quart) heat-proof bowl.   Add about 3 quarts very hot water.  Stir.  Place a plate over the bowl & let the water cool to room temperature.   Remove leaves and strain if needed.  Pour tea concentrate into a pitcher or storage container.  Add more water to taste.  Refrigerate & enjoy.

For more California native plants that can be used for tea see:




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We encourage you to send us your questions, comments and recipes (either comment below or e-mail to us at : mothernaturesbackyard10@gmail.com

 

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