Latvian Iced Mint Tea

We have a brand new little Chocolate Mint plant as part of our spring planting because I quite simply could not resist the York Peppermint Patty smell of its leaves. I knew this variety existed but I wasn’t expecting to find it at the local nursery.

In Utah, because of our climate, mint is an invasive. If you plant it in your garden, it will fight to take over everything unless restrained. So, we planned to put it into a hanging basket and if it seeded into the planter box, well, so be it. Only weeds are there right now as it is and I want to be able to take my little guy with us if we move later this year.

I confess, however, that I don’t really know what to do with it. I would like to make extract out of it and other minty desserts, plus I knew it was a good choice for Thai and Vietnamese dishes.

What I didn’t expect was to see a recipe in Latvian National Cuisine for a “Mint Drink” when I was flipping through it looking for something else. My husband hadn’t heard of this, so perhaps this is a region-dependent recipe? Or perhaps his family just wasn’t a fan. I’m not sure which. It’s basically an iced tea but made with fresh mint rather than dried tea leaves or herbs.

We tried it out, figuring that since we like hot peppermint tea, making an iced version should be quite tasty. Turns out we were right, it’s really good and very refreshing. It’s a lot like lemonade – great to have a tall, cold glass of this when it’s hot and you’re working in the garden. While I don’t like traditional American iced teas, this is just right to me.

Plus, it’s a good way to use up mint.

Latvian Iced Mint Tea [printable recipe]

Adapted from Ņina Masiļūne – Latvian National Cuisine
Makes 4 drinks

1 liter filtered water
1 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup fresh mint

Dissolve the sugar in lemon juice and bruise the mint before adding it to the mixture. Heat the water until boiling in a kettle and pour over the mixture. Cover and let steep on the counter until room temperature, then strain. Taste, adjust the lemon juice or sugar as needed, before chilling. Serve over ice.

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