There are very few truly gifted blenders that make me want to give blending a try. I know my place and it isn’t my calling. Finding the best tasting tea and herbals in the world for our business collection is. I know a naturally gifted blender when I taste something that is truly magnificent.
But, let’s say I drop the standard a little and want to play around myself? I’ve found growing herbs in containers is not only easy, it’s fun, and one of my favorite things to grow is mint. Mint is hard to kill, which makes it ideal to grow. Above is a container I stuck a couple tiny pieces of mint into just a short time ago–a few weeks it seems. The photo shows the results.
If you’re a mint fanatic, you’ll probably already have lots of mint blends where the mint is quite dominant. But for those who just want a ‘hint of mint’, or even a beautiful garnish for an iced tea, it’s so easy to snip a sprig and put it in some hot or iced tea (if you add honey, please use light honey with white and green tea and stronger, darker honey with black tea and put it in the hot infusion before you pour it over ice if you are doing iced tea, or you’ll get a mini lava lamp effect if it hits tea that’s really cold). You can crush the leaf before adding for more flavor, or just leave it alone and let it add just a light minty note as it slowly infuses into the tea.
You can, of course, also add mint to other herbals. Yerba Mate is great with a mint note, as is chamomile. Rooibos is the perfect foil for a host of flavors including mint. Mint is extremely cooling to the senses and very relaxing.
Experiment with adding other herbals than mint that you might already be growing in your yard, potted or not. Rose petals, like this beautiful one in our side yard, are used by blenders in many tisane and tea blends…why not drop a few pinky petals into that white tea to add color and a hint of sweetness? How about naturally dried strawberries (we’re growing these in a pot but have some in-ground as well). Chrysanthemum, fennel, new fresh tips of cedar or pine… Be creative but be safe! Here in Southern California, I have a huge, gnarly old pepper tree in my back yard and making my own chai might even be in the future; at least adding a few pepper berries off our tree to our delicious Spicy Chai just to add a ‘personal touch’. Or not.
Stressing safety again: Google is my ‘best friend’ when I have a question about ‘safe plants’, sites like WebMd, or just put ‘edible plants’ and/or ‘nonedible or dangerous plants’ in the search box. That lovely pink oleander flower? Uh uh…no go.
Have fun and make your own icy concoctions this summer! Happy home blending!
Written by Diane Walden, originally posted in June 2016