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.