Friday, July 2, 2010

Making Introductions (In Case You Haven't Met)

Let me make some introductions.  Stevia, this is a dear reader.  Dear reader, this is stevia.

If you ever come upon this sweet herb, pull off a leaf and eat it.  You'll be amazed at the sweetness.  Amazed.

Can you guess what I'm drinking right now as I type?  It doesn't seem like it should be such a big deal, but this is the first glass of mint tea that I've drank all summer and it is delicious.  I'm sort of a purest when it comes to what I drink, rarely drinking anything other than water.  Last summer, we made and I drank some mint tea, but then I cut out sugar (for Lent and beyond) and while I do succumb to sugary treats for special occasions (any special occasion currently), I cannot bring myself to put sugar in anything I drink.

Even before my sugar fast, we had decided we wanted to try to grow stevia this year.  We bought seeds and later found out through trial, error and reading that it is very hard to start stevia plants from seed (don't do it).  We bought 15 plants and into the garden they went.  They are about a foot tall, but will (hopefully) grow up to 30 inches.   Jamey has been making and drinking mint tea made with sugar, but I have been holding out until I had the time to figure out how to use stevia in my tea.  Whelp, I did it and I love it and the recipe is below.

We will harvest our stevia (then dry and pound it into a powder) in the fall.  We'll be following these instructions when the time comes. Until then, I will be making and drinking mint tea brewed with stevia.  This is huge for me.  Huge, I tell you.  What other drinks (other than juices, hot tea, and black coffee- which I do not like) are there out there that are purely natural, containing no sugar or artificial sweeteners?  There may be a few- but I bet I don't have all of the ingredients growing along side my house and in my garden.

Mint Tea Made with Fresh Stevia, A Concentrate (makes 1 pint concentrate, 2 quarts ready-to-drink tea)

This recipe is based on this recipe for mint tea concentrate, replacing the sugar with fresh stevia.

1 pint water
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh stevia leaves for a mildly sweet (perfect, if you ask me) tea OR pack a 1/4 cup of stevia leaves for a sweeter tea
1 1/2 cups packed mint tea leaves, rinsed well

Place water, stevia and tea leaves in a pot and bring to a boil.  Remove from heat and let steep overnight.  Remove leaves, using a sieve. This is your concentrate- you will end up with about a pint.  The concentrate can be frozen.

When you're ready to make tea, add 1 1/2 pints of water to 1/2 pint of concentrate to make 1 quart of tea.

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  1. Isn't stevia wonderful. I could kick myself for not growing any this year, I will next year for sure. I like your idea of a mint tea sweetened with stevia and will have to try it sometime. Pretty cool that a person can grow there own sugar like that, now all you need is a hive of bees.:)

  2. Quite impressive AND inspiring. I might just need to pop over for a sample cup.

  3. I love fresh made mint tea. I drink it unsweet and it is so refeshing. I love drinking all types of herb teas but never use sweetner although; stevia is a wonderful sweetner. Are you going to try some baking this winter with what you harvest this year? I would love to see what you come up with. I have never thought about baking with Stevia.

  4. Sounds delicious! Good luck with the stevia and let us know how it turns out! have a great weekend...

  5. Have you tried just putting some stevia leaves in unsweetened tea that is already brewed and cold? 'Cause that's how I am going to try this with our tea - I like to brew it up without sweetener, and we currently have a sugar syrup that Rob puts in his tea. It would be great if the stevia were sweet enough to just sweeten already cold tea. I'll let you know if it works once we try it. I only have one measly little plant (we did the starting from seed thing - only got one out of 5 or so planted), and it's not big enough yet for me to pick enough leaves for a trial.

  6. Mr. H, We would LOVE to have bees. Maybe one day:-).

    JJ, Why did you stop by when I wasn't home?? Did you ask Jamey for some tea? You should have. I guess you will just have to stop over again. Please thank your mom for the lemon bag. It makes me happy.

    Teresa, I am going to try to learn to bake with stevia this fall and I will certainly document my findings:-).

    Patty R., Please do let us know!

  7. I love my stevia... thank you for the recipe and the link for storing for winter :D

  8. Thanks so much for the info about stevia. I'm growing 3 plants in my herb garden but wasn't sure what to do with it.

  9. So EXCITING!!!! Got the same thing growing here. I've been drying my tea and stevia too. I want to make some loose tea mixes this winter. Didn't think about making a cold brew!

  10. I would like to try this recipe but only have dried, powdered stevia. Do you know what the equivalent would be?

  11. Jen, Here is a conversion chart you might be able to use. It doesn't include fresh stevia, but if you can imagine about how much sugar you would have used, it may help:-).

  12. Thank you! That was a very useful website!

  13. I did purchase one stevia plant, but also stared some from seed. It has been slow and they are still in one pot, but the plants are looking nice. I will transplant them into a permanent bed when they get stronger.

  14. I love mint tea. It never occured to me to try growing stevia though because I typically put local honey in my mint tea Local honey is great for my allergies.

  15. Replies
    1. I believe you can can tea, though I've never done it. Has anyone else had experience with this?

  16. This is AWESOME! I've never tried a tea concentrate before. I'm totally making this tomorrow :) I have peppermint AND stevia growing around the homestead right now. Thanks so much for sharing!!


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