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Spearmint Tea with strawberry garnish
Herbal teas come in a wide variety and have many medicinal purposes accompanying them. Spearmint is a wonderful alternative to its more potent relative peppermint, and also has many of the same qualities. This caffeine free herb is delicious served hot or cold with a strawberry sliced in the middle to sit on the edge of the glass. The blend of aromas is soothing in itself but the benefits of the two complement each other beautifully.
Using dried spearmint in a tea ball is the best way to steep your herb and get the full flavor of the plant. You can also purchase spearmint at many health food stores or online in tea bags of in loose form. The dried form will produce a much richer flavor than steeping fresh leaves. But the fresh leaves can be used if washed and slices thinly and steeped for longer in scalding water. Sweeten with a bit of honey or sugar.
Its long been know that peppermint can soothe a sore throat or an aching stomach; this is also true of its relative the spearmint herb. Containing less menthol than peppermint spearmint is a much lighter and gentler alternative to soothe nausea or indigestion.
This herb is known to relieve fatigue, but if blended with chamomile can have an almost sedating relaxation effect. In addition to menthol adding a strawberry adds antioxidants and vitamin C improving the teas cold fighting properties.
Growing Your own Spearmint
All mints grow wildly in any garden and unless kept in check can take over a yard in a matter of months. It is best to grow these types of plants in containers and trim them regularly. A small purchased plant will quickly spread and fill any planter; but if you want to grow from seed I recommend filling a large container with good quality potting soil, and sewing into the garden as early as possible. The little seedlings will benefit from the cooler weather and become hardy plants when they mature. Pinching off the top leaves, as this will allow it to become bushy then let it fill out for several weeks. Cut back and dry out the leaves just before flowering, leaving enough of the plant to still fill out a bit more and possible flower and give seed. When the flowers mature you can take the dried flowers and harvest the tiny black seeds to give away or plant elsewhere. Spearmint is a perennial herd and should come back every year, but some times something goes wrong with the winter climate and your herb will need to be replanted the next year. This is where sewing seeds in the winter or very early spring can come in handy.
Drying Your Fresh Herbs
Wash and Dry your cut spearmint and place on paper towels in a shady location. Make sure to spread out the herb evenly and openly to prevent spoiling and decrease drying time. A paper bag also works quite well if not over filled. Pull the leaves from the stems after the herb is completely dried the natural shape of the plant will keep the air flowing around the plant and make for more even drying.