Mint is our ingredient of the season. We’ve used it in a variety of drinks, both alcoholic to non-alcoholic, salads, and body scrubs.
Today we’re sharing an amazingly simple and delicious herbal iced tea that’s the perfect addition to any summer spread. This pairing of lemongrass and mint is something I’ve carried around with me for years, only getting the urge to mix up a batch on the hottest of summer days, just like the first time I had it.
I was volunteering with a nonprofit whose mission was to plant vegetable gardens in urban schools in West Philadelphia. The gardens were cared for by the high school students, who then sold the organic produce at local farmers’ markets. The program did an amazing job of introducing the students to a wide variety of produce and teaching them how to prepare dishes from what they’d grown. And as may be expected, having cared for their crops all summer, the students were deeply invested in the garden and the plants they were caring for and were excited to pass on their new knowledge. It was such an heart-warming site to hear them share preparation tips they had just learned with customers at the markets. We made up this tea on a whim after a long, hot summer day when the garden was overflowing with the herbs. I remember that for many of the students it was the first time they were tasting lemongrass and the first time they were making tea from fresh herbs. They were blown away by how a process so simple could produce a drink so good. If you give this a go, I think you’ll be just as surprised.
We made the tea with fresh mint and lemongrass that day, but I often substitute dried herbs and it works just as well. I have to admit that when I’m mixing I don’t do any measuring, but I put together the basic formula below. Please feel free to play with it – add more or less mint and lemongrass. Skip the sugar if you want. etc.
- 2 Tbsp dried mint (or 1/2 cup chopped, fresh mint)
- 2 Tbsp dried lemongrass (or 1/2 cup fresh chopped, fresh lemongrass*)
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 4 cups hot water
- 4 cups cold water
- 2 cups ice
Making the Tea
- Place your herbs and sugar in a heat-safe container. I like to use a quart size mason jar.
- Bring 4 cups of water to a boil and then pour it over the herbs.
- Let the mixture steep for about 15 minutes.
- Place the cold water and ice in a pitcher. Carefully strain the concentrated tea into the pitcher, stir, and serve!
- If you’re using fresh lemongrass, you can use the stalk, but using just the leaves works as well. Trimming the leaves for tea is a great way to begin using your lemongrass before the stalks are ready to be harvested!
- I’ve often heard that the ration for substituting fresh herbs for dried is 3 to 1 (you need 3 times the amount of the fresh herb to equal the dried). That would mean you only need 6 Tbsp, not the 8 I call for by using a half cup, but I’ve found that using slightly more makes a better tea.
What about you? Do you have an recipes with a story? Is there something you’ve made for years and yet you always think about that first time you put it together?
With a the long weekend of picnics ahead, think about introducing this tea to your friends. Better yet, enter it in an ice tea competition. Those must exist somewhere, right?