Meadow Tea. This is, without a doubt, the summer drink of Lancaster County. Most locals love it. You can be on a back country road, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, and spot a farm that has a cooler by the road. In it you’ll find homemade Meadow Tea for sale, usually in small reused bottles. That tea won’t be there for long either, it gets bought up quickly by all the bicycle and horse & buggy traffic.
“Out-of-towners” love Meadow Tea, too. I saw one store charging $5.00 a gallon for it. Whaaat? That’s more than a gallon of milk!?! It’s crazy they’re charging that much – even crazier that people are spending that much for it.
So what is Meadow Tea? Actually, it’s not a tea at all. It’s freshly grown mint that’s been brewed, sweetened and chilled. Mint grows in abundance all spring and summer making this the perfect warm weather drink. Any mint will do – I grow six different mints and they all make a lovely Meadow Tea – though Kentucky Mint & Mojito Mint are my favorites.
The tea only takes a few minutes hands on to make and the rest of the time it’s steeping. I go out to my herb garden and cut about 2 packed cups of mint. Using a colander, I rinse the leaves thoroughly. I always find sticky little critters on the mint, so inspect and rinse well. Add the mint to a pot of boiling water, cover, remove from heat and steep for a few hours.
Remove the leaves from the pot. I usually set these aside in the colander and let them drain and dry for an hour or so. Store them in the fridge for a day or two – you can get another batch of tea from them.
You MUST strain this tea – you absolutely do not want little bits and pieces floating around in it. I have a handled screen that fits over my sun tea jar and I ladle or pour the tea through it. A sifter works great in a pinch, as can a kitchen towel. Depending on the size of the screen, you might want to double up and use a coffee filter.
If you’re familiar with the local version of Meadow Tea, you’ll know that it tends to be a very sweet drink. I prefer my tea to be lightly sweetened, so I add less sugar. If you’re looking to make an authentic version, add 1 cup to 1 1/2 cup sugar. The Pennsylvania Dutch tend to like things sweet, a bit too sweet for my tastes.
There you go folks. Meadow Tea. It’s not some Amish, Mennonite or Lancaster County secret – it’s a simple and delicious drink made from what grows like weeds in every garden. Make use of all that mint and make a batch enjoy this refreshing drink! Hope you enjoy!
Thanks for stopping by : )
- 3½ quarts water (14 cups)
- 2 packed cups fresh mint, whole
- ½ - ¾ cup sugar ***see note***
- This recipe makes 3½ quarts of iced tea - enough to fill an average sized "sun tea" jar.
- Boil water in a large pot.
- Rinse mint leaves - keep whole. I do this in a colander - inspect and rinse well - I always find lots of sticky little critters on mint.
- Add mint to pot of boiling water.
- Cover pot, remove from heat and let steep for 2½ - 3 hours.
- Remove whole mint leaves with a slotted spoon. Let leaves drain and dry in colander. Leaves can be reused once for another batch of tea.
- Pour tea thru a fine screen into your storage container. I use a handled screen that fits over the top of my sun tea jar and pour/ladle the tea thru. If you don't have a screen you could use a sifter or even a kitchen towel. Please use something - you don't want bits and pieces of leaves floating around.
- Stir in sugar to taste. ***NOTE*** I prefer a lightly sweetened tea so I add ½ cup - ¾ cup sugar. Local Meadow Tea is made MUCH sweeter - I'd estimate they use 1 cup - 1½ cup sugar. Start with the lower amount of sugar and add in any additional sugar until you reach desired sweetness.
- Refrigerate, serve cold. Enjoy : )