Meadow Tea

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Meadow Tea- This Lancaster County staple is summer in an ice-cold glass. Crisp, clean, minty and utterly refreshing, it's also the perfect way to use an abundance of mint.

This Lancaster County staple is summer in an ice-cold glass. Crisp, clean, minty and utterly refreshing, it’s also the perfect way to use an abundance of mint.

 

 

 

If Lancaster County had an official summer drink, it would surely be Meadow Tea.

For years I threatened to rip out the mint that has a way of overtaking our garden ⇩⇩ — until I began making Meadow Tea. Now, I never seem to have enough!

 

Meadow Tea- This Lancaster County staple is summer in an ice-cold glass. Crisp, clean, minty and utterly refreshing, it's also the perfect way to use an abundance of mint.

(Doesn’t it smell so good?)

Meadow Tea- This Lancaster County staple is summer in an ice-cold glass. Crisp, clean, minty and utterly refreshing, it's also the perfect way to use an abundance of mint.

 

My family can drink this crisp, minty drink as fast as I can make it, and nothing tastes more refreshing on a hot summer day.

You can buy it, of course, but once you realize how easy it is to whip up a batch, you’ll be happy to save a few dollars and enjoy the fresh, clean flavor that the bottled variety can’t quite capture.

For those who may not be familiar, Meadow Tea isn’t actually tea. It’s just freshly grow mint that’s been brewed, sweetened to taste and chilled.

Any mint will work. I happen to be partial to good old spearmint.

 

Meadow Tea- This Lancaster County staple is summer in an ice-cold glass. Crisp, clean, minty and utterly refreshing, it's also the perfect way to use an abundance of mint.

 

I learned this method of preparing Meadow Tea from Michael Long, who was my very first newspaper editor. Michael knows his way around the kitchen and has Mennonite roots-two qualities which told me this tea would be a hit before I ever made it.

The only real change I made was to reduce the amount of sugar to suit our tastes. Feel free to adjust up or down according to your preference. Though I haven’t made Meadow Tea with honey, I have a friend who does and she loves it that way.

As mentioned, my husband and sons have fallen in love with this refreshing, lightly sweet tea-as have many relatives and friends.

Funny story: One of my friends stops over for lunch on her work break from time to time. When her husband recently learned that I make Meadow Tea, he asked if I would send a jarful of the tea home with her the next time..and any time I have the tea on hand. (Of course I will, Ken!😊)

Usually, I end up cutting a few too many stalks from the garden, so I took to making a mint “bouquet” with the extra clippings, placing them in a Mason jar on our kitchen table. The arrangement is rustic yet pretty, and the smell is delightful.

I’ve always appreciated Michael’s precise timing for steeping the mint, noted in the recipe below. It may seem somewhat arbitrary, but I set my oven timer and never waver, and the flavor is perfect every single time.

Meadow Tea- This Lancaster County staple is summer in an ice-cold glass. Crisp, clean, minty and utterly refreshing, it's also the perfect way to use an abundance of mint.
Meadow Tea- This Lancaster County staple is summer in an ice-cold glass. Crisp, clean, minty and utterly refreshing, it's also the perfect way to use an abundance of mint.

Meadow Tea
Yield: 2 quarts/½ gallon (easy to double)
This Lancaster County staple is summer in an ice-cold glass. Crisp, clean, minty and utterly refreshing, it's also the perfect way to use an abundance of mint.
Ingredients
  • 2 quarts (64 ounces) water
  • 1 cup mint leaves (I like spearmint; pack fairly well)
  • ⅓ cup (66g) sugar*
  • Optional: 1-2 extra mint sprigs (no more than 4-6 inches long)

 

Instructions

To get a cup of mint leaves, cut or purchase about 8-10 healthy, mature mint stalks. Remove the leaves from the stems, pinching off any dry or brown spots.

In a large pot, bring the water to a full boil. (Tip: For good use of time, pick off the mint leaves while waiting for the water to boil.)

Remove the pot from the heat, and immediately stir in the mint leaves. Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid, set your oven timer for 2 hours and 45 minutes and let the leaves steep.  (Michael considers this to be the perfect timing, and I always abide by it!)

After the allotted time has passed, strain the tea into a very large jar or pitcher. I press down very lightly on the leaves to extract any lingering liquid. (But I believe what I heard years ago – that squeezing tea leaves can cause bitterness – so I don’t press too hard.) Discard or compost the leaves. Immediately stir in the sugar, stirring to dissolve. (Because the pot was covered during the steeping process, the tea will still be warm enough to dissolve the sugar.)

If using the optional sprigs, make a small tear in 6-8 of the leaves and add to the jar.** Refrigerate and enjoy over ice, with a small fresh sprig of mint, if desired.

Notes

*This amount of sugar produces a lightly sweet tea, but you may absolutely adjust up or down to taste. I’ve never used honey in meadow tea, but I have a friend who does and loves it!

**Tearing the mint leaves (while keeping them intact) of the optional sprigs releases some of the essential oil from the leaves, adding an extra infusion of fresh mint flavor to the tea as it sits in the refrigerator.

The Fountain Avenue Kitchen https://fountainavenuekitchen.com/

 

 

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Comments

  1. Gail

    Hi Ann, We always had meadow tea growing in our yard when I was growing up and my mother often made the tea. When I moved into my own home my mother gave me some of her mint to plant and I planted it in a area where it could not spread. But there is also another use for meadow tea. You dry the leaves and once dried, crumble the leaves up and let your cat have some home grown cat nip. Our cats always loved it.

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      Love that idea, Gail! Thanks for mentioning. And how nice to have the transplanted mint. I bet the history makes it taste even better!

      Reply
  2. Helen S.

    I haven’t made “Meadow Tea” but have made “mint tea” with a six of tea bags and about a cup of mint leaves, enough to brew two quarts of tea. Some in our family like tea southern style. very sweet, so I always have sugar syrup for them to add the sweetness to their tea. I prefer just a hint of sweetness and will add a small splash of the sugar syrup.I also divide the brewed tea into two pitchers, one sweet and one unsweetened and add water to have almost 4 quarts of teas for special get togethers.
    Thanks for reminding me of the tea! One of my favorites was my grandmother’s tea that included fresh lemons and fresh mint in the brewing stage and sugar in the brew afterwards.

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      Helen, I like your system of having two pitchers – something for everyone! Having simple syrup on the side available for people to add as desired is a lovely idea, too. I’m delighted this recipe brought back memories of your grandmother’s tea. Thanks for your comment!

      Reply
  3. Becky Noll

    I love meadow tea an constantly have a huge pitcher of it in my refrigerator. I add no sugar….I just love the cold and minty flavor. I always take a big jar of it along when we visit our kids in Virginia and DC.
    Love the idea of a bouquet of leaves in a jar…..it will be something on my kitchen table this week.

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      I’m sure your kids are thrilled when you bring it, Becky, and I’m so glad you like the bouquet idea. Enjoy the tea-and the fresh, minty scent in the air!

      Reply