Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Peppermint Tea

How to make peppermint tea.

Read on!

Tea vs. coffee

Every time the discussion about coffee comes up, I cringe - you know the simple questions "do you want coffee?" or "do you like coffee?" I can't give a simple answer.
You see, people here don't really have any preferences, and they certainly don't have good taste when it comes to coffee (They don't really have good taste, period. But that's another matter for another day).
For most people in my country, when it's about coffee, it's quantity over quality.
Most bars and caf├ęs are doing good work these days, and actually make decent cups of coffee. Most of them grind their own beans, a selected few even take their time to roast their own beans.

Meanwhile over at the various work places, offices, schools, institutions, they drink something that barely resembles coffee. It's a dark, thin liquid that's lukewarm. And the similarities end there.

So when people ask me if I like coffee, the answer is not that simple. Yes, I do like good coffee. No, I don't want to waste time drinking bad coffee.
Am I a snob? Not about coffee, no. I consider myself close to clueless when it comes to the dark magic, the black gold, or what ever the aficionados call it. But I do know how bad coffee tastes, I don't want to drink it, and I hope people stop thinking they will get anything remotely drinkable from those machines you see to the left here.

Illustration of a peppermint plant
Usually, where there's bad coffee, there's also average tea. You know the sort, hot water and a bag of tea. Better than the alternative. And at home, since making decent tea takes no effort, while making good coffee actually requires some work, I have ended up drinking a lot more tea than coffee. I still don't consume the same amounts as some of my coffee drinking friends, but I'm probably up in the 3-4 cups per day range.

I have also ended up being increasingly more interested in tea. I'll definitely get back to black blends of tea at a later point, and maybe I'll even write some stuff about proper coffee. But as the title says, this is something else.

Apparently peppermint is extremely healthy, and reading about it feels like it's some sort of miracle drug. We're talking cancer repellent, memory enhancing, skin cooling, insomnia preventing.
Of course, I don't care about that, I just want a good tasting and hot cup of tea.

How to make peppermint tea 

When properly cared for, the peppermint plant will grow freely and willingly. They blossom in the mid- to late summer, and that's the right moment to harvest the plants.
These were brought in a bit too late, and most of the stem was too hard to use for tea. But I suspect the entire plant could be used in tea, if harvested at the right time.

Pull off the leaves, place them on a pan and use fan heating. Experiment with other non-poisonous plants too.
To be more precise. I let them stay in the oven for around 90 minutes at no more than 100 degrees Celsius. 50-75 will do perfectly. I also had a slight gap in the oven lid. This will make the leaves drier/crisper.

Come to think of it, this isn't really a recipe, it's barely even a description. This is something anyone could do if they have fresh peppermint. But many edible and drinkable things are so much easier to make than many realize. Bread and burgers spring to mind, and now tea.

Notice how the leaves have lost their color. The actual tea is more yellow than green. Is there a reason for this? Where did the green go?

How do I describe taste? Specially one as unique as this. It doesn't really taste peppermint - at least not the the taste I associate with peppermint: candy, mint filled chocolates, gum, toothpaste. This is not like any of those tastes.

This is a very fresh... no. Refreshing is the word. It's a refreshing taste. It's a lot milder than the concentrated mint flavor. It's almost a bit sweet, even though I drink it without sugar. I can taste the green leaves, I can taste that it's as natural as you can get tea. And I can taste that it's good for me.
Another thing is that I don't get all dried up in my mouth, like I do from the bitterness of black blend tea. It's refreshing to the point where I think it will be equally well suited served chilled. Maybe with a drop of lime.

The peppermint tea is one of those things that beyond the taste/healthiness ratio. You know candy and chocolate? That's too tasty to be good for you. But strawberries? Strawberries have passed that point, and are just as good for you as they taste. Confused? You probably need to drink a cup of peppermint tea.

Enjoy, people!

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