During these very hot days it is refreshing to make iced mint tea. I know that is not a common drink to many, but both Silver Oak and I grew up drinking iced tea made from mint grown in the garden. If you think that’s weird you should try it! There’s nothing better on a hot day to rejuvenate the body!
Some friends of ours had mint overtaking their garden and invited us to stop by and pick some. I gratefully picked a few grocery bags of the herb to make tea, and took some with the roots as well to plant at home. I’m not certain which kind of mint it is, but it tastes a lot like spearmint.
With the sun giving us more than enough energy right now, I really wanted to take advantage of it and save on fuel to make the tea. So rather than bringing a gallon of water to a boil on our propane stove top and then immersing the mint in the hot water, I decided to make a variation of sun tea. After all, on an off-grid homestead we should do it the off-grid way, right?
The traditional way to make sun tea is to fill a jar with water and tea bags or leaves and set it in the sun for a number of hours. But sunlight diminishes nutrients, especially B vitamins. I wanted this tea to be delicious as well as an energy booster, so I did not want it exposed directly to sunlight for long.
I whipped out our handy-dandy windshield shade solar cooker to help with the process. Actually, I am no longer using the window shade because after a while the stiffness relaxed and I had a hard time getting it to stay where I wanted it. I’ve since switched to a piece of radiant barrier insulation which was left over from our big deck roof project. It is about the same shape and size as a windshield shade so I use it the same way. It is stiffer so it stands nice and tall right where I place it.
As when I make cottage cheese with the solar cooker, I don’t want a really high heat with mint leaves in the water or it will lower the nutritional content and make a bitter taste. So I don’t place the cooking utensils under glass or plastic which would create a hotter environment for cooking. I don’t want it to boil; just to stay fairly hot.
I stuffed the freshly washed mint (stems and leaves) into a clean gallon jar and filled it with filtered water, leaving a little room for expansion at the top. I loosely fitted the lid to allow air to escape, and placed it in my black pail just as I do for cottage cheese. With another black pail inverted on top to absorb the heat but block the light, it is ready to be placed in the cooker facing the sun.
I try to start as soon as the sun is nice and high in the morning to give plenty of time in case it gets overcast or rainy later in the day. In Florida the summer sky can change quite quickly so if the tea starts heating too late in the day there may not be enough sun to complete the job well.
After four to eight hours in the sun, depending on how direct the sun is or whenever I remember to bring it in, the tea is done. I strain the warm tea off the leaves, or pull the leaves out of the tea. If it is really strong I add more filtered water and then sweeten it with honey or raw sugar to taste. After the sweetener is dissolved I let it cool to room temperature, then add ice and place it in the fridge. That night for dinner or the next day when we’re sweating it is a wonderfully refreshing and thrist-quenching drink! Yum!
Linked w/Morris Tribe, White Wolf Summit Farmgirl, Growing Home, Frugally Sustainable, Natural Living Link-up, Homemaking Link-up, Live Renewed, A Rural Journal, Simple Lives Thursday, Farmgirl Friday, Ole’ Saturday Homesteading Trading Post, and Seasonal Celebration Sunday