1) Make tea. Either dry your leaves and crush them to use this fall or winter OR make a cold mint tea by pouring boiling water over tea leaves and letting them steep for several hours, then add more water and sugar to taste. (I will be experimenting with stevia in mint tea later this week. I hope.)
2) Make mint tea concentrate and freeze it so you can drink mint tea in the fall and winter if you like. Here's how you do it...
Mint Tea Concentrate (recipe from Janice Wyble via my mom)
1 quart water
1 cup sugar (1 cup is pretty sweet- we prefer 3/4 cup)
3 cups packed fresh tea leaves, rinsed well
Place water and tea leaves in a pot and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let steep overnight. Remove leaves, using a sieve. Add sugar and stir until it is dissolved. This is your concentrate- you will end up with about a quart. Pour into pint-sized freezer containers and freeze.
When you're ready to make tea, add three pints of water to one pint of thawed concentrate to make 2 quarts of tea. Or, use half a pint of concentrate and 1 1/2 pints water to make 1 quart of tea.
Judi, asked me if I had ever made mint jelly. I wondered what was wrong with me because I hadn't. I changed that and this is now my most favorite recommendation seeing as I just made some last week and am totally in love with it. I tasted it (to make sure I did everything right) and it transported me outside into my mint bed in the blink of an eye. To think that I can experience this in the middle of winter makes me giddy with excitement.
It's so very different than the store bought mint jelly I've had before. My mom used to make a Christmas cookie that had a tiny dollop of mint jelly on the top of each one. They were called Thumbprint Cookies. You roll the cookie dough into a ball and then roll it in nuts. Using your thumb, you press an indentation into the top of the ball and fill it with mint jelly. They were delicious the way they were, but with the real stuff? Oh, my.
Also, just look at the jelly. It's so pretty. I am hoping to make another batch soon and will be passing it out as thank you gifts in the year to come. If you don't like mint jelly, please tell me if I hand you a jar. You may break my heart, but it would hurt my heart worse if I knew this lovely green confection was going to go to waste.
Mint jelly is often paired with lamb. We don't eat lamb. We do eat fresh rolls with jelly when we have company and the kids eat PB&J (and love it with mint jelly). Another great use for it is if you need to take an appetizer somewhere. Buy a block of cream cheese (the fuller the fat, the creamier, which in this case is the better). Place the entire block on a large plate, top with a generous amount of mint jelly and surround the block with crackers. Friends can dip right in with a cracker or spoon some on their plate. It's very easy and very delicious.
Mint Jelly ( The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving)
I figured if I was going to give you the exact instructions, I might as well take a picture of the instructions instead of retyping them all. Follow them to the letter with one exception. I doubled the recipe (you can see my markings) and only used 3 drops of green food coloring (total) to achieve the color you see. I'm not a fan of food coloring, but 3 drops amidst the 10 half-pints didn't freak me out and made the color lovely.
This is another great opportunity to get the kids involved. Chopping mint leaves with a knife can be tricky, but cutting them with kitchen shears is a cinch.
Instructions continue below. Please ignore my pencil markings, unless you, too, are making a double batch.
Isn't it beautiful? Okay. I know I'm being a bit ridiculous here, but I can't stop looking at these jars.