Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Cold mint tea 冷ミント紅茶

This cold mint tea was served to us by a neighbor in the town where my wife grew up. It was a very hot summer day and we were waiting for the plumber to come take care of the inevitable plumbing problem that always seemed to manifest whenever we went to work on my wife's parent's house in rural Pennsylvania. We were frustrated, hot and tired when our neighbor suggested we retire to her front porch for some cold mint tea.  It was so refreshing, nicely minty and restorative.  Sitting, rocking on the porch, catching the occasional breeze, watching the cars go by on the street, discussing recent "doings" in the town, we became wrapped in a relaxing calm. What did it really matter the plumber hadn't shown up yet? My wife asked for the recipe for the tea. The neighbor explained how to make it and took my wife to a patch in the back garden where the mint was growing in profusion. Just then the plumber pulled in.

After the plumber left, the neighbor showed up at the back door with a bag full of mint cuttings for us to take home and plant in our garden. My wife started to say "Thank you..." when the neighbor stopped her and wagging a finger said "Never thank someone for a plant cutting or it won't grow; it is an old Pennsylvania Dutch custom."  Not missing a beat my wife said "...for helping with the house." The neighbor smiled, nodded approval, handed over the bag full of cuttings then said, "you're welcome." We planted the mint in several places in our yard after coming home and this year it has become established enough that we can make mint tea using the neighbor's recipe. Every time we taste this tea it reminds us of the time we first tasted it.

We served it in our favorite very thin Japanese tumbler (called "Usuhari"うすはり) which we bought several years ago when we visited Japan.

Several handfuls of mint (to taste) (#1)
8 cups of water
1/4 cup sugar
3 Lipton (cold brew or iced tea) bags. Cold brew can be made without hot water but according to the package, it can also be made using hot water.

Tear up the mint leaves (the neighbor stressed they should be torn, not cut) to increase the flavor.
Add the sugar (#2) and add the water (#3). Bring the water to the boil. Immediately turn off the heat and add the tea bags. Steep the tea for 5 minutes (#4). Strain the tea into a glass container and let cool. Serve cold.

The way my wife makes this tea it is not too sweet. The mint really comes through and this is very refreshing summer drink. We even occasionally take some to work to drink in the afternoon.

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