Using mint in beverages

One of our favorite ways to use mint is to infuse its flavor into various beverages. Most of these involve heating the liquid, then tossing in a few sprigs of mint. To maximize the mint flavor, we’ve found that it is best to add the mint when the liquid is a bit below the boiling point of water. Here are a few recipes for using mint in diverse beverages including tea, mojitos, and chocolate milk.

Above are three varieties of mint we grow. From left to right, orange mint, Kentucky Colonel mint, spearmint.

Simplest mint “tea”

  • not-quite-boiling water
  • several mint sprigs per person; I prefer orange mint

Put the mint in a mug and pour the near-boiling water over the mint. Steep to taste, several minutes. Drink. (One note: I really like this beverage EXCEPT when I’m eating yogurt. For reasons I can’t explain it tastes entirely different and not very good in combination with the sour yogurt flavor.)

Green tea with mint (hot or iced)
1 quart water
1 to 2 tea bags or 1 to 2 teaspoons loose-leaf green tea
4 to 6 sprigs fresh mint; we prefer orange mint

Prepare a tea pot or other container to steep tea. Fill a pot with fresh, cool tap water and heat until it just begins to boil. Pour over tea. Steep tea ~2 minutes. Add mint, and continue to steep tea & mint for another 1-2 minutes. Remove the tea immediately, and remove the mint when flavor is satisfactory. For hot tea, serve immediately. For iced tea, cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until serving.

Above left, infusing mint into a syrup. Above right, the setup for mint tea.

Beverages based on a mint-infused sugar syrup

We make the following concentrated base syrup in sufficient quantities for multiple beverages, then store it in the refrigerator until use. This method adds much more mint flavor than trying to muddle a few mint sprigs in a glass at serving time.

  • 1 cup white sugar (sometimes we’ll use honey, but the honey flavor sometimes overwhelms the mint flavor)
  • 1 cup water
  • ~10 mint sprigs; we prefer Kentucky Colonel mint

Boil sugar & water. Cool for several minutes. Add mint and allow to steep at room temperature until cool enough to refrigerate. Taste and remove mint when flavor is satisfactory. Transfer to a jar & refrigerate.

This simple syrup can serve as the base for a variety of alcoholic or nonalcoholic beverages. Try adding citrus juice & water to taste for a mint limeade or lemonade. Or here’s our favorite mojito recipe:

Mojito
For each glass:

  • 1/4 cup mint-infused syrup
  • 2 Tbl to 1/4 cup rum (or more or less to taste; optional)
  • juice from 1/2 a lime (or 1/2 packet of frozen calamansi juice, which we buy at Meechu’s Filipino Market at 1301 Vandiver Dr.)
  • a few mint sprigs, preferably Kentucky Colonel
  • ice
  • water to taste, usually just top off the glass

Stir. Enjoy. Yum.

Chocolate milk with mint

  • 1 quart whole milk
  • ~1/4-1/3 cup sweetener of choice (white sugar, honey, etc.)
  • ~1/4-1/3 cup high quality cocoa powder (such as Valrhona)
  • several springs mint; we prefer spearmint

Put the milk in a saucepan and start to heat it gently. Add the cocoa powder & sugar, starting with the low-end amounts. Continue heating (& occasionally stirring) until cocoa powder has dissolved. If milk started out raw, continue to heat to pasteurization temperature (145ºF for 30 minutes or 161ºF for 15 seconds), still stirring occasionally to avoid scorching. [We slightly prefer the results from the gentler pasteurization which we think produces a creamier, more delicate result, but the higher temperature still produces a plenty delicious product.] Add the mint a few minutes before pasteurization is complete.

Taste, & if desired add more sweetener &/or cocoa powder, and/or let mint steep longer. Remove mint (optional). Drink now as hot chocolate, or chill for chocolate milk. Submerge the pan in cool water to help the milk chill quickly, then transfer to a container with a tight-fitting lid & refrigerate. Cocoa powder will settle during storage, so shake well or stir before serving. Our favorite way of serving is to freeze it in an ice cream maker (such as this device that goes with our Kitchen Aid mixer). Note: This has more pure sugar in it than most things we consume, and I’ve learned the hard way to not drink this right before bedtime if I want to sleep well.

2 thoughts on “Using mint in beverages

  1. Annette,
    As I’m sure you know, be sure to thoroughly think through where you want mint, as getting rid of it is difficult, and it likes to spread. We love mint, and we distribute a lot of it, but even so we have some plantings that are in danger of escaping the areas in which they are welcome. For the same reason, make sure you find a variety (or varieties) that you really like. Mint doesn’t grow true-to-type from seed, so buying a plant of a kind you like is the best way to ensure that you’ll have something worthwhile. We did start some spearmint from seed that is pretty good, but I later read a suggestion for seed starts which I wish I had followed: Start more plants than you want, taste all of them, and pick the best. If you’re interested in any varieties we have, we could certainly sell you a cutting at a reasonable price. (We have the three shown above, plus a couple of others.)