Peppermint Tea

One of the first things we planted here after moving in over 13 years ago was peppermint.  I knew it spread easily and could become invasive, so I put it in a corner surrounded by the house, the cellar stairway and the sidewalk.  That dirt does wrap around the corner to the back of the house, but halfway over it is ended by the concrete stairs to the back door.  I put in just one plant and it has spread to fill the area in almost completely and is wrapping around that corner.  Last year we planted some flowers in that area, but most haven’t come back.  So if it all ends up peppermint – at least it’s green!

The taller, stalkier things in the photo are blackberries, (and it looks like a mulberry tree… that will need to go…,) which were planted there a year earlier.  They used to do better, but the past few years… not so much.  For two years we didn’t even get berries.  Last year we got a handful.  Maybe the peppermint is stealing all the nutrients?  I should fertilize a little.

So, why peppermint?  First, it was to hopefully help keep mice out of the house.  That might have worked if I had it all around the house, but that would require having a sidewalk all around the house as I don’t want it to take over my yard.  Sometimes I just grab a leaf or two now and then and smell it or chew on it for a couple of seconds.  I’ve also made some peppermint extract by filling a mason jar with leaves and then adding vodka to cover it.  Leave it for a few weeks then strain out the leaves and discard them.  Put the liquid in another jar and you have peppermint extract.  So far, though, I haven’t gotten it as strong as I want it for my Candy Cane Cookies at Christmas.  Last year I bought a new thing of peppermint extract from the store.  This year I’ll try again.  Maybe I need to use leaves from earlier in the year?  Worth a try.  And I probably need to stuff more leaves in the jar before adding the vodka.  I also found a recipe for peppermint cookies that actually uses chopped up peppermint leaves.  They are very tasty – after about a day.  Before that they kind of taste grassy with a hint of peppermint.  It seems to take a day for the grassy flavor to leave and the peppermint to be fully infused in the cookie.  Last year I started hearing about peppermint lemonade, so once I made some lemonade and added 4 or 5 whole peppermint leaves to the pitcher for a few hours.  It was good.  I’ve also dried some for making tea.  But the easiest way to make tea is to just pick a couple of leaves off the plant, rinse them under running water to remove any dust or dirt, put them in a tea cup or mug and add hot water.  Let it steep a few minutes, lift out the whole leaves and drink!  Yum :)