outside · This and That

Mint Ice Tea

There’s not much that is more thirst quenching and refreshing on a hot summer day than ice cold mint tea. In fact I don’t know of anything more refreshing than that. Now I’m not talking about a regular box of mint tea, herbal or otherwise, that’s been steeped and iced.  No, instead I’m talking about taking fresh cuttings of mint leaves, complete with the stems, pouring boiling water over it, allowing it to steep in a pitcher for maybe 20 minutes, and then adding lots of ice and cold water. I don’t even bother removing the mint but leave it in the pitcher until the tea is all gone. Nothing is quite so thirst quenching.

I only fill the pitcher with boiling water full enough to cover the leaves and allow it to steep. After that I add cool water to the top. No need to heat up more water than necessary! And it cools down quicker. I made it in this glass pitcher so you could see the leaves better but normally I make it in a plastic gallon pitcher like this.

In my backyard I have a small herb garden with 3 varieties of mint growing; peppermint, chocolate mint, and spearmint. All of these are delicious. Did you know there are over 600 varieties worldwide? Sometimes I take cuttings from each of my plants and mix them. Other times I will take only 1 variety. My favorite is spearmint.

At the top is spearmint, to the left is peppermint, and to the right is chocolate mint. Growing in front of the garden out of the asphalt “patio” is mostly peppermint with some chocolate mint and of course some normal everyday garden variety weeds too.

I’ve been drinking mint tea in the summer for years. My mother introduced me to it over 30 years ago. I’m not sure where she originally discovered this summer refreshment, but I did not grow up drinking mint tea. My family and my parents shared a two-flat way back in the day. We lived in the upper flat and rented from my parents who lived below. Why they would have preferred living below a family of 6 (at the time) with 4 very active children nobody could understand. But I digress.

Along the side of the house between it and the driveway there was a narrow garden in which my mother planted peppermint. It was an especially good place to grow it because of mint’s tendency to spread and this location prevented it from advancing beyond. Mint will outgrow any bed you plant it in. I’ve often thought of mint as being somewhat rebellious by nature, or perhaps it has a wanderlust side to it and just cannot stand to be confined in one place refusing to be limited by the boundaries of our gardens…kind of like the grass is greener on the other side of the fence sort of thing.

One summer my husband’s brother was visiting from out of state and he wanted to be especially helpful so he offered to mow the lawn. Unfortunately he also mowed down the “weeds” along the side of the driveway. He was so pleased with himself for going above and beyond what was expected. It was hard to tell him he had just cut down the means to producing our preferred summer beverage as he stood there with a smile on his face, all sweaty from working. I’m thinking a tall glass of icy cold mint tea would have tasted especially good to him just then!  Not to worry. My mother forgave him, although she was initially quite irritated with his efficiency! Like I said, mint is practically a weed and before we knew it it was back again in all its glory, even fuller than before it was so radically “pruned.”

It is recommended that mint be planted in pots rather than in the garden because it can be more easily contained. The only problem with that is in this part of the country it usually won’t survive the winter since the roots are above ground, making it necessary to buy new plants every spring. That is what I did for a number of years. But then I read if you plant the mint in pots and plant the pots into the garden it would contain the mint, prevent it from spreading, and it would come back again in the spring since it is a perennial. Brilliant!

After planting the mint in that way the coming back each spring was happening, but the staying contained in the pot was not. The first year or two the mint was cooperative and stayed where it was planted, but eventually it sent out shoots and was coming up all over the herb garden and out into the grass surrounding. But as far as I’m concerned that’s perfectly OK. I don’t mind mint being a bit unruly. What it gives in icy cold summer refreshment far outweighs its desire to take over the garden and beyond. We don’t have a fiddly yard perfectly manicured anyway. We’re happy with green even if it’s a weed.

Notice the pots of mint “planted” in the herb garden, and the amount of mint both outside the pot but still inside the garden and the mint outside the garden altogether. In the top left there’s some basil growing as well. My mint never gets very tall because I harvest it for tea all summer long.

Recently my daughter in law suggested something ingenious. Why not make an extra strong batch of mint tea and freeze it in ice cube trays?

Then when you want ice tea it becomes a snap. Just add an ice cube of mint tea along with several ice cubes of regular ice to a tall glass of water and voila…instant ice tea! This would also eliminate having that big pitcher of tea taking up so much room in the frig.

I tried it and it worked! And worked beautifully. Now I have a freezer bag full of mint ice cubes available all the time for a tall glass of tea and much more room in the frig.

It doesn’t get much better than this!



7 thoughts on “Mint Ice Tea

  1. I think the chocolate mint tea sounds absolutely delicious. And how about a glass of chocolate mint iced tea with a scrumptious homemade muffin or scone? Now that sounds awesome! Love that idea of the mint tea ice cubes. My husband loves regular iced tea. I wonder if it would work just as well with regular iced tea to make the ice cubes. I might have to try that sometime. 🙂


  2. This would work with any kind of ice tea. Talk about easy! The frozen mint tea cubes in a glass with ice water tastes no different than freshly brewed mint ice tea so I imagine it would be the same with regular ice tea.


  3. Ok, I've got lots of mint and am going out to pick a bunch and try this delicious sounding tea! Love reading your posts Linda, and you have a great gift of writing. Thank you.


  4. Your tea looks refreshing, Linda! I like the idea of making tea cubes. They wouldn't dilute the tea as regular ice cubes do when melting. Great idea! Two other favorites of ours, using mint, is half and half lemonade and mint tea, or, black tea, mint tea and a bit of orange juice.


  5. Hi Lili, Mint tea and lemonade. Now that sounds yummy. Actually I have some lemon balm or lemon mint (not sure what the difference is, if any) growing in my herb garden too. I should try mixing it with the mint and seeing how that works. I'll have to let you know what I think.


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