The perfect summer refreshment: mint iced tea brewed with garden fresh mint and sweetened just how you like it with a vanilla mint sugar syrup.
This is unlike any iced tea you’ve had before. Rather than using bags of dried tea that are who knows how old, this one is made with fresh mint right from the garden (or, you know, the grocery). Make a big batch of it to sip all summer long!
I recently came across a photo of a yard overtaken by mint. It was literally a carpet of mint alongside the entire house, and while the caption implied this was a bad thing (it shows just how pervasive mint can be when set loose), I couldn’t help but wish I had a yard so I could do just that. Intentionally.
Why? So I could have an unlimited supply of fresh mint for tea, of course (maybe I’d lend some to Taylor for a Julep now and then, but only if he asked nicely!) For now, my two pots of mint will have to suffice.
I love sipping on hot mint tea in the winter, but have always bought the dried stuff. It wasn’t until our recent trip to France where our hostess brewed up a pot of warm mint tea one night using a handful of fresh mint from the garden.
I know it seems silly, but I’d never even thought to use fresh mint. It was nothing short of a life-changing revelation.
And, while hot tea made with fresh mint is divine, I don’t exactly want to be drinking anything even remotely warm when it’s this hot outside.
So I set about making an iced version, perfect for summer sipping.
I’ve made a few batches over the past few weeks (I’m addicted, I tell you!) and have noticed that the color and flavor can vary greatly from batch to batch. For one batch I used a mix of spearmint and Kentucky mint from my own container herb garden, resulting in a more mild flavor and amber color. The next batch I used generic grocery store mint, and both the color and flavor were much more vibrant (I am currently propagating a sprig of this mint to add to my garden… and I may or may not have smuggled home a sprig of mint with velvety green leaves from a drink I had at a local restaurant for this very same reason. Yay free plants!)
Considering there are dozens of varieties of mint, I could see how you could really have fun experimenting with flavors here. I mean, hello, chocolate mint! Orange mint? Pineapple mint??
Maybe next year I’ll plant all my pots full of nothing but mint.
The mint tea can be enjoyed as is, or sweetened to taste.
I made a vanilla mint sugar syrup with the used mint leaves (there’s still enough mint flavor in there for a second go around!) and a bit of dried up vanilla bean (you can also use vanilla paste or extract since I know vanilla beans are not cheap these days!) One batch makes about 3/4 cup of syrup, or enough to sweeten about 10 to 12 glasses of tea.
Now, while technically you could combine the two steps and sweeten the tea at the same time as you steep it, I intentionally made the sugar syrup separate.
Because some people are sweeter than others. Or should I say, some prefer sweeter things than others (I’m looking at you, husband). I knew I’d want my tea about twice as sweet as Taylor would, so I figured my serving the tea with sugar syrup to taste, we could both have our way.
And if I’ve learned anything in 9 years of marriage, it’s that, while compromise is great, if you can possibly make it so that you both get your way without having to compromise, it’s even better.
How’s that for marriage advice?
- 1 large handful fresh mint leaves (about 1/2 ounce)
- 8 cups plus 1/2 cup filtered water
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 vanilla bean or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract (optional)
- Wash mint leaves and remove stems. Place in a heat proof bowl. Boil 8 cups of water and pour over mint; cover and let steep for 10 to 15 minutes. Strain, reserving mint leaves. Transfer tea to a pitcher or glass jar and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Place strained mint leaves in a small saucepan along with sugar and 1/2 cup water. Bring to a simmer; cover and steep for 10 minutes, then strain and discard solids. Transfer to a small jar or bottle and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- To serve, fill glasses with ice. Pour tea over ice. Add 2 to 4 teaspoons of syrup to each glass to sweeten to your liking. Stir and enjoy!