Monday, June 30, 2014

Simple Iced Mint & Green Tea // Planting Our Roots (Week 44)

I spent this morning pruning our garden, something I should have done two weeks ago but just got around to today. Even though I've neglected it, miraculously, it has continued to thrive. Our arugula has transformed into a wild bush accented by delicate pastel flowers. Our basil plants are a gorgeous, healthy green -- a true accomplishment since most years mine tend to yellow by mid-summer. Our Thai basil plants are nearly a foot high, and are total garden show-offs, what with all those deep, high-reaching plum-colored flowers and tie-dyed looking leaves.

For most of my adult life, I've created a home garden that consists entirely of fleeting annuals. However, the summer we were married I made a deal with myself to experiment with the perennial game. At the end of that summer (and at the end of each summer since) I've planted at least one edible perennial in the hopes that our harsh winters would not kill them and that they'd return with vigor the following season.

At the time that I began this tradition, I was still high on wedding bliss, so the idea felt very poetic: I would literally plant some roots all along the perimeter of our home, which I would then tend to over the years and which would physically nourish us each summer season.

Though I haven't had luck with everything, both my peppermint and my lemon balm plants have found the beauty in my original gesture, and have returned each season as bigger, bushier versions of their former selves. Because of this, I force way too much mint onto our plates throughout the season. It makes a guest appearance in everything, from salads and spring rolls to creative pestos and galettes and once (in a brutally failed attempt) into a simmering pot of otherwise perfectly decent tomato sauce (I've made up for that minor disaster by becoming a bit of a self-proclaimed master of homemade Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream).

Luckily, we (and our cholesterol) have been saved by a collection of pretty green Spanish glass pitchers. Anyone who comes to our home regularly knows that one of these pitchers pretty much always hangs out on the corner of our butcher block island, tempting guests with something refreshing to drink. Some days, it is an easy, fruit-infused water. Other days, it is a fresh-squeezed juice or lemonade. This summer, the drink-of-choice has been a foolishly simple Iced Mint and Green Tea. Though you can certainly add more green tea to suit your tastes, I prefer to keep it subtle so that the fresh mint takes center stage (side note: though I regularly make this recipe with peppermint leaves, any minty leaves work fine, as do lemon balm leaves). Though this feels too easy to really serve as a suitable recipe (simply bruise the leaves, add some piping hot water, dip in some green tea bags and finish her off with a spoonful of honey), it is the perfect cool drink to stir up on warm summer days.

P.S.: if you're so inclined, please feel free to drop by Eat Boutique -- I recently wrote a two-part series for them about owning a small food business titled "Owning a NYC Food Business is Grand, and Other Lies Pinterest Told Me."

Simple Iced Mint & Green Tea

- 1 cup fresh mint leaves, thoroughly rinsed
- 6 cups near boiling water
- 2 green tea bags
- 2 tablespoons honey

In a small bowl, muddle the mint leaves to release their oils. In a medium-sized pot, add the muddled leaves and the near boiling water. When the leaves are submerged in the water, carefully muddle them for another minute or so, being careful not to splash the hot water. Steep for 8 minutes. Add the tea bags to the mixture and steep for an additional 2 minutes. Meanwhile, fill a medium-sized pitcher with ice cubes and set aside. At the end of the 2 minutes, promptly remove the tea bags to avoid a bitter flavor. Using a fine mesh sieve to ensure that no leaves end up in the tea, pour the liquid into the pitcher. Add the honey and stir. Allow the tea to cool to room temperature before serving. When kept covered and refrigerated, the tea will keep well for about 3-4 days.

1 comment:

  1. I remember how bad I used to feel before adding green drinks in my diet. I had undeniably let my health slip and my daily carbs definitely got the best of me.