Introduction: Cold Brew Wild Mint Tea

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When the kids and I are camping (or just spending a day out in the woods) we always enjoy harvesting wild foods. Nothing makes you feel like part of the forest like being able to identify and harvest what is already available. One of our favorite things to make is cold brewed mint tea. It's a great thing to have waiting on you back at camp after a day out hiking and so easy to make even the kids enjoy helping out. In fact, my children hog all the work and leave me nothing but the job of identifying the mint for them. They like making this so much I actually planted some mint in our garden so we wouldn't have to keep trekking into the forest to find it since the closest bunch grows around a spring about a quarter of a mile away.

Step 1: Gather the Mint

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Here in the South mint can be found abundantly growing wild around cow creeks especially in moist sunny locations. It doesn't grow in the water but rather places near the creek especially where it rises during rainy spells and the ground retains moisture but isn't soggy. You won't find it growing beneath the trees nor alongside bog-loving plants like cattails.

Mint can be recognized by its pointy leaves and {in the later summer} clusters of tiny flowers, it's not uncommon to find bits of scarlet-purple on the leaves too. Most the look-a-likes have no scent so if you think you found mint take a leaf and crush it between your fingers, if it smells like mint then you found it, if not keep looking.

Once it has been found gather some large bouquets and bring them back to camp. Try to avoid mint plants that have flowers as they will be less flavorful and watch out that you don't harvest bugs, spittle bugs love to make their saliva homes on the stalks and undersides of the leaves.

Step 2: Crush the Mint

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Now that you have your mint put it in a bowl or on a plate and pound it with a rock, chunk of wood, or whatever else you have on hand, sometimes we just use our hands to wring it over and over. My personal favorite tool to use is my sauerkraut mallet. The better you bruise the mint the quicker it will brew and the stronger flavored it will be. The beating process should reduce the bulk of the bundle significantly.

Step 3: Brew It

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Once it has been beaten to a pulp stuff it into a jar. The ratio depends on your personal taste but I typically don't fill my jar less than 1/3 with mint. Fill the jar with water, secure the lid and shake. If you beat the leaves well you should immediately see the oils mix into the water turning it dark. Some people would tell you to leave it in the sun but I prefer mine cold and besides the sun's rays kill vitamins. It brews perfectly well sitting in the shade or even chilling in a cold creek to make it even better. Just leave it for an hour or more. Use this time to do some fun camping stuff like fishing, hiking, or finding edible bugs. We left this jar hidden under some tall weeds beneath a low-branched pine.

Step 4: Strain It

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Now that the mint has had time to seep give it another good shake for extra measure then strain. If you are out camping odds are you didn't bring your kitchen strainer but it can be done through a napkin, paper towel, piece of cloth, or you can just skip this step and drink it with your teeth clamped (as we have done on many occasions). I brought a pitcher for carrying water and they poured it into that once the brewing time was up, then I just turned the lid to the side for filtering ice and they returned it to the jar.

Step 5: Sweeten If Desired

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My kids have gotten quite imaginative on what to add to our mint tea. It's actually been a while since they haven't tried to experiment and have used this time to add watermelon juice, lemon, and even strawberries they first mashed in a bowl but they always want a few drops of liquid stevia (my sweetener of choice for camping on account of it being so compact and not needing a spoon to measure out). Whatever you sweeten it with add it to the jar, re-secure the lid and give it a good shake, or stir.

Step 6: Enjoy

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For us camping usually means being low on common items like cups so we just pass the jar. Understandably you probably will rather distribute it in a less savage manner. Hope you can get out there and make some cold brewed mint tea of your own and in the future experiment with the recipe too. Cheers!

Comments

MicheleB136 (author)2017-09-11

Very cool! Now what are your bug snacks??

Hylian Mom (author)MicheleB1362017-09-11

My family sticks with crickets and grasshoppers. Something about being Kosher seems to take the "ick factor" away. We put them in the freezer long enough to stun them then pour them into a pan of hot oil and after sauteeing them sprinkle with salt and pepper. It's fun and novel but to be honest impractical as we spend more calories running about the fields catching them than we get from the snack. I have often pondered and experimented with making a trap for grasshoppers and crickets but so far no luck. Maybe l will rediscover John the Baptists's secret to success and that will be a future instrctable. ;-)

TeriB2 (author)2017-09-06

this looks like liquid loveliness!!

seamster (author)2017-09-05

This looks delicious and refreshing! :)

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Bio: I like to refer to myself as "minimally talented". This means I can do an array of things but nothing too challenging for you to ... More »
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