What mint do you think makes the best tea?
A mixture so it will be complex in flavor
Whatever grows best in the garden. :)
Seriously, I like different flavors at different times and for different reasons. I would suggest taste-testing for your self and go from there.
A mixture of pineapple mint and pineapple sage is excellent. One has the flavor, and the other the taste. I read this in a book on herbs I have, and it is true.
Taste is so subjective! For me, it would have to be peppermint for tea, but then - you might prefer Apple Mint, or Ginger Mint.
As FataMorgana says, do a taste-test for yourself. You've only got about 600 mints to choose from.
Most mints make a pleasant tea. Peppermint is excellent for calming stomach spasms. Apple mint, especially the aromatic red-stemmed type, makes a nice tea. Monarda didyma, aka Bee Balm or Oswego tea, makes a delightful tea, that is also said to help fight colds. It was quite popular among colonists for use as a tea substitute during the time of the tea embargo. You can also try making different combinations of one or more mints with other tea herbs, such as raspberry leaf. rosehips, or catnip. Monarda and catnip make a particularly nice combination.
About the rosehips... I presently have them. Would you use them fresh or dried? How many whole hips to a teapot of tea?
Most use dried hips for tea, but I suppose the fresh may work. I find that by themselves that somethings like rose hips and hawthorn berries have a rather mild and sometimes weak taste. If you use them in combination with other tea herbs, you'll probably have something more to your liking.
I agree with the comments about taste testing.
I know that I really like Doublemint Madalene Hill Mentha xgracilis 'Madalene Hill' named after Madalene because of her work to broaden the cultivation and use of this wonderful culinary mint. It is a hybrid between M. arvensis and M. spicata. It is the only mint having both peppermint and spearmint oils, which give it an especially subtle and complex flavor.
Over the past 10+ years, I have had the pleasure of meeting and visiting with Madalene on numerous occasions at Festival Hill in Round Top, TX. She was an incredible woman and true lover of herbs.
Another mint I like is Mint the Best M. spicata.
I like black-stemmed peppermint and Kentucky Colonel spearmint. Ltcollins, I'll have to look for Doublemint Madalene Hill. That sounds wonderful.
eibren, would you share the title of your herb book that you reference? Looking for info to improve teas for personal use.jt
Mentha xgracilis 'Madeline Hill' also has the common name of red mint or red stemmed applemint. It is high in carvone (the primary component in spearmint oil) and menthone (one of the primary components of peppermint oil). Peppermint and spearmint oils are each composed of multiple chemicals that give them their own distinct aroma/flavor. 'Madalene Hill' mint has the flavors of both spearmint and peppermint but not exactly a combination of the oils. I know this is splitting hairs a bit, but in case there is anyone out there wanting to distill their own oils...
Crisped peppermint Mentha xpiperita 'Crispa' (not to be confused with crisped or curly spearmint) is a peppermint that retains much of aroma of it's spearmint parent so could be considered a "doublemint" as well.
eibren-forgive my ignorance, but what is the difference between flavor and taste?
I use the terms flavor and taste to describe the difference between what you taste when you originally put something in your mouth and the flavor left in your mouth after swallowing. I don't know if this is eibren's criteria but it is mine.
I should have said, "flavor and scent". The scent of one, which is relatively flavorless, enhances the flavor of the other, which is relatively scentless.
The taste of herbal teas is more subtle than that of the heavily flavored drinks pushed by modern food tech, though; you need to go into that with that expectation.
Some people put herbs into fruit juices, etc, as well, which gives another dimension to their usefulness. Helen Fox mentions that (see below).
"eibren, would you share the title of your herb book that you reference? Looking for info to improve teas for personal use.jt"
The book I thought I read it in is Helen M. Fox's "The Years in My Herb Garden," which came out in 1953--you might be able to find it in archive form somewhere on the internet, though. I can't find the remark, so it could have been somewhere else.
Fox's focus is on a delineation of all the culinary herbs she herself grew, which is fairly extensive, with offhand comments here and there regarding their uses (which, however, when she makes them, are incredibly useful). It's a fantastic book, but not particularly dedicated to teas, and not particularly easy to extract that sort of information from the extensive listings and cultural comments. There is an index, but it doesn't even list "teas", and the recipe section at the end is tiny. She was really into the plants themselves, and how they did in her garden. She is also limited by the herbs that were available back in the 50's--more the traditional ones, not the more exotic ones we can acquire today.
There is a whole other literature out there, such as one put out by Dover in pb by (Jeannie?) Rose which might suit your present interest in herbal teas better. Also, Bertha Reppert's daughers run a tea house in Mechanicsburg, PA, next to Bertha's Rosemary House, and might be able to provide you with some of Bertha's writings on teas...I imagine that the Rosemary House is on the internet as well. Bertha wrote numerous pamphlets on herbal subjects.
It was a great loss to our area when she died.
I have Swiss mint herb. The tea with its leaves has a rather strong menthol taste. I like it.
How do you prepare the bee balm tea? I have tons of it in my garden. Do you use the flowers? Dried or fresh?
Whether the 'bee balm' is Bergamot (Monarda didyma), or Wild Bergamot/Horse Mint (Monarda fistulosa) or Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) - the leaves are used, dried or fresh.
Dear Kind Gardners,
I have been reading about this wonderful mint since Big Brown ran in the Kentucky derby. Can anyone direct me to a vendor? Does anyone have a clipping to trade? My neighbor Texans should be knee deep in the stuff!
My deepest sympathy to those that were close to Mrs. Madalene Hill. I know she is deeply missed.
Here is a link that might be useful: Mentha xgracilis 'Madalene Hill
Did you try looking by the other names like "doublemint" and "red-stemmed apple mint"? I found a "red doublemint" listed for the vendor below. See what you can find.
Here is a link that might be useful: triple oaks - mentha
I use regular spearmint but add another of my favorite herbs--fresh lemon verbena leaves.
It looks like FataMorgana has found a vendor with Madalene Hill's red-stemmed doublemint! Another page at the vendor, Triple Oaks, lists her by name 2/3's of the way down in the first paragraph: Triple Oaks' page that mentions Madalene Hill & her famous mint.
See FataMorgana's link above to the plant itself at the vendor. I want it! Googling around I see lots of posts recommending it for tea. Thanks everyone, I'm looking forward to a cool drink on a hot summer day!
Madalene Hill also wrote a book called Southern Herb Growing that local libraries might already have or could request.
What an energetic lady! Here's a link that might be useful: GW thread on the late Madalene Hill.
Update: Triple Oaks doesn't have an order form on their web page but does have a contact form. The owner replied quickly & said that she visited Madalene Hill in Texas once and believes that this is the right mint. When the weather cools down I am to contact them again & they'll ship it to me. It's good to read here about different mints, etc, for tea, & to have different choices. Thanks, FataMorgana! Thanks, everyone!
Twice a year, I order herbs for our Master Gardener plant sale. Often, I can order the Doublemint Madalene Hill Mentha xgracilis 'Madalene Hill'. If I can get some ordered for the fall plant sale, I can mail you a 4" pot if you want. The plant would be $2.50 + postage and mailing. Let me know if you are interested.
Yes, ltcollins, thanks! E-mail me through GW or directly: firstname.lastname@example.org. I can reimburse you through paypal if that will work for you or mail you a check if you prefer. Appreciate it.
Let me contact my grower and see if he can get me some for the fall. I'll let you know.
I have a favorite mint that is one from my dad who got it from his parents' farm many years ago. For sentimental reasons I suppose and because it's that familiar scent it's the one I really like. It has a sweet aroma that mixes so well with my other favorites like lemon balm or bee balm.
Several other spearmints have been given to me at plant swaps and only a few are tasty in the spring, but come summer once the weather is warm the flavor seems to increase. What really makes a mint tea terrific for me is letting the leaves dry then use them. If it stays a bit bitter & isn't sweetish mint flavored I give up on that plant for tea, but let it grow for the beneficial insects or for making strong teas for spraying around to deter moles, rabbits, & deer from my edible gardens.
Does anyone else prefer dried leaves over fresh mint for tea?
Well it really depends on what kind of mint you like, but if you like a stronger flavor peppermint is best. But personally I like spearmint because of its refreshing taste.