Friday, October 28, 2011

Mystery Mint Becomes Hanshaw Road Backyard Mint Tea!

We stopped mowing the backyard for a variety of reasons. One reason was to see what would come up! What native or interesting plants had been suppressed by decades of mowing wetlands and old pasture into a “grassy lawn”?
The re-grown backyard now boasts native sedges and grasses, wetland shrubs and seedling trees that are gone from surrounding cultivated or paved areas. Also, to my surprise, there is a plentiful and spreading bed of mint, which revealed itself via its beautiful scent when stepped on. Mowed into the lawn for many years, the plants had managed to spread across a sizable area of the backyard, and grew up into sizeable plants over the spring and summer months.
The photos show the mints emerging from the surrounding grass; and the rolls of mint-leaf filled paper towels that I use to dry the harvested leaves for tea.
Twice this past summer, I cut the plants off about a third of the way down each one, to harvest the leaves and to allow the small plants to become sturdier and bushier for future growth (I dunno if I am doing this right!).
I rolled single layers of leaves into paper towel bundles, fastened with rubber bands, and left for a month to dry fully. I have found this method works better than air drying, which in this moist climate can lead to mold and bug infestation, not to mention spider webs!
The dried mint leaves yield a pure, honest mint tea when a few are crumbled into a tea-ball and steeped in hot water. The aroma alone will carry you to a better inner place for long enough to truly refresh.

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