Meadow Tea is a simple, refreshing drink made with fresh mint – a Lancaster County staple. Great way to use up the abundance of mint that grows in herb gardens.
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 : )
Meadow Tea - PA Dutch Iced Mint Tea
- 3 1/2 quarts water 14 cups
- 2 packed cups fresh mint whole
- 1/2 - 3/4 cup sugar ***see note***
- This recipe makes 3 1/2 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 2 1/2 - 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 1/2 cup - 3/4 cup sugar. Local Meadow Tea is made MUCH sweeter - I'd estimate they use 1 cup - 1 1/2 cup sugar. Start with the lower amount of sugar and add in any additional sugar until you reach desired sweetness.
- Refrigerate, serve cold. Enjoy : )
Perfect, flavorful drink. Beautiful shots
Thank you so much Kushi : )
Antojo en tu cocina
It sound yummy! 🙂
Thanks so much!!!
I love mint! This drink sounds so refreshing and healthy! I have some beautiful mint growing in my back yard that I am going to use with this recipe!
Thanks Katie! This is our favorite summertime drink – soooooo refreshing! Hope you love it as much as we do : )
Chance Curtis Vincent
What type of mint should I use, I want mint tea and where can I buy the mint. A Amish friend who was my best friend made mint tea for me 7 years ago and I miss drinking mint tea and I enjoyed it. After I moved i dont see or hear from that friend no more..
((I am not I am not Amish, I just use to help him out with odd/in jobs))
Hi Chance. You can use any mint you’d like! I grow numerous types – but Kentucky Mint is my favorite for Meadow Tea – but they ALL will taste great! You can go to any greenhouse and they will have a large selection of mints in the herb section. Pick out a few – pick the ones with the minty fragrance you enjoy the most – and plant them anywhere. Mint grows like a weed, so be careful, but it grows anywhere and just about effortlessly. I prefer growing it in containers/beds designated just for mint. You can also find mint plants at most better grocery stores and can often find “picked” bundles in the herb section.
Hope this helps! Thanks for stopping by 🙂
I have made meadow tea for years. I am from lanc. county,pa..home of the AMISH. however, this year I have made it twice and both times it was a little weak . I tried to pick the largest plants like I usually do, but it came out a little weak.i usually boil mine for 20-30 min. and let it steep for 4 hours.drain and put 11/2 cups of splenda in it. why have both of my batches of tea been weak ?? does the weather have anything to do with the plants ?? please help. I really miss that good tea taste.
If you use the tops and the smaller leafs of the plants it helps because they are stronger in flavor.
Hi Leigh! Thanks for sharing – it’s very useful information 🙂
i do the same recipe as you and have the same results. it is a little weak. it is like it is 90%. i don’t know what to do. it used to be excellant,however, the past 3-4 years it has turned out a little weak. i am open for all suggestions. i really miss the good tea.
Hi Dale! Sorry to hear your meadow tea has been weak tasting this year. I’m not having any (weather related) issues with my mint or any of my herbs this year and we’re in the same county.
My suggestion is to gently muddle the mint leaves. This will help release some of the oils and give you a stronger mint flavor. This is something I would normally only do for a fresh (unbrewed) drink – but it might just get you the flavor you’re looking for until your plants get back to normal.
I’ve haven’t run into this and it might not apply to you either…but I’ve been told that you should split and repot your plants every few years to keep the flavor strong. My plants are unpotted and grow free, wild and crazy in beds so they’ve never needed that type of maintenance.
Best of luck to you – I’d love to know if the muddling helps out at all. Thanks for stopping by!
what is muddling ?
my grandma made this all the time, and i remember helping grandpa harvest it from his big garden. we grew up in lebanon county and i still live here, though they are gone. id love to get some plants, but dont know where to do that. im new to your site, so far its very nice.
Hi Kevin! Awwww…those are wonderful memories! Mint grows like a weed once you plant it, I have so much every year I end up feeding most of it to my chickens 🙂 You should be able to grab plants at any greenhouse that grows herbs. I go to Black Creek Greenhouse (Eastern Lancaster County) – they have a big selection of mints. A plant costs like $2 bucks – the same amount a cut bunch of mint would cost in the store. Thanks so much for stopping by 🙂
This looks incredibly refreshing. I have bookmarked it!
The Old Fat Guy
Thanks! I hope you enjoy it – it’s my summer drink of choice 🙂
I love mint and I am growing it for the first time this summer. I made this tea, used 50% more leaves than recipe called for due to comments about the weakness. I let it steep for @ 4 hours. I only sweetened the glass I sampled and I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would. BUT, I made ice cubes to use for fresh brewed iced tea and, my ultimate favorite summer cocktail, mojito! YUM! They are brilliant and delicious for both. I will definitely make again, especially since my mint is growing like crazy.
Perhaps meadow tea is a local taste – people seem to either love it, or, not so much. Glad to hear you repurposed it into fab iced mint cubes! Thanks for stopping by 🙂
I have dried meadow tea leaves that I kept when I had to move away from my garden and could not take any plants along. Do you know how much dried leaves to use when making a large amount of tea? I use an herb ball when I make a small amount. Thanks!
Hi Pat! I wish I could help – but I honestly don’t know! Drying mint to use throughout the year is an awesome idea! I’m always overgrown with it but my chickens help me out with it 🙂 I would try maybe half the amount – start with 3/4 cup – 1 cup…? I’d love to hear what amount you use and how it turns out for you. Thanks for stopping by!
Great for chemo patients, too. Helps with the nausea.
Wow. That’s great to know. Makes sense – mint does calm the belly.
Thanks for stopping by Christina! Warm wishes ♥
How do I store the used mint leaves for a later brewing? And how long will they last?
LOVE meadow tea – thanks for this recipe 🙂
Hi Casi. Glad you enjoy the recipe!
After steeping, I let the leaves dry for a bit on a paper towel and then store in an uncovered container in the fridge. Similar to how I would store fresh herbs, just with no water at the bottom. I usually use the mint within a few days.
We moved to Tampa Bay, FL 2 years ago and I getmint from the local farmers market. I usually pay a dollar or two for a plastic bag full of mint. I wash it carefully and then strip the leaves off the stems. I put about 2 gallons of water on to boil with he leaves in it. I let it boil for about 10 or 15 minutes. Cut the heat and let it sit out overnight. In the morning, I scoop out the majority of the eaves then pour through a drive into a 2 gallon plastic pitcher. I don’t like it very sweet so I only add 1/2 cup of sugar, refrigerate the. Drink with pleasure!
Will be making this tonight! Thanks
Hope you enjoy!
Thanks for stopping by Diane 🙂
I love this tea but recently purchased 4 bottles at the Fairgrounds Farmers Market and found the consistency of the tea to be different, it is thicker than previous times. Could this be from a different strain of mint? Is there anything that can be added to give it it’s normal delicious taste?
Hmmmm…I’ve encountered this as well with stuff I’ve bought at markets.
I’m guessing it’s either made with some type of cheap sugar syrup or it has been pasteurized.
Hi . My recolection is that Meadow tea is only the fuzzy leaf, mint. aka apple mint. I cut just the top 3 leaflets for tea. I also add your sugar to taste…. while boiling the water, it keeps it nice and light colored, after boiling add the mint cover and let steep. Don’t boil the tea it makes it bitter. Let it steep for an hour covered. oh enough mint to loosely fill the container you have for boiling and steeping.
I strain my tea using a wally world oil funnel with the little screen in it . Use a paper towel like a coffee filter for the straining. Into mason jars. Just the right size to fit into a lunch box for construction workers like me.
I like better than Gatorade like drinks. Thanks. Chris
I love love meadow tea! I have been trying to make it at home but I don’t get the light colored drink that I get at farm stands. Does anyone know why it would come out the color of regular tea? I use a combo of spearmint peppermint and sometimes Apple mint – whatever is most abundant
When my mother used to make mint meadow tea here in Lancaster County, she would only brew it for about 15 minutes. She likes it the light color also. She always added artificial sweeteners. She never picked the leaves off ; she just cut bunches of it and threw it all in the pot. Now when I make it, I pick a few sprigs of Stevia that I also have growing and throw that in when I brew it. I’ve been experimenting with brewing for a short amount of time and long amounts of time and adding the Stevia separately or doing it all together. Something is making it a little bit bitter and I’m trying to figure out why. The last time I made it I brewed the Stevia separately from the tea and added it in afterwards and it seems to be a little bit better. I thought maybe the bitterness was coming from not picking the leaves off but then I remembered that my mother never picked the leaves off and hers was never bitter.
Colleen - Faith, Hope, Love, & Luck Survive Despite a Whiskered Accomplice
A great way to use up all of that mint! Thankfully, mine is under control this year, so I’ve had no problem finding a way to use it all!
This tea sounds delightful and perfect for a hot summer day. I’ve never heard of meadow tea but it sure sounds delicious. I’m a huge fresh mint fanatic, so I know I would love this
Kelly Lynns Sweets and Treats
This tea sounds so refreshing! I would definitely make this to share when having a backyard party 🙂
Amy (Savory Moments)
This looks delicious and so very refreshing!! I happen to have a large mojito mint plant in my garden.
I’ll have mine with a shot of Rum please.
Years ago I was a driver for international leaders and was escorting a lady from Africa and a man from the Caribbean. It was very hot so I made them some garden tea. Both were very excited when they tasted it as they both recognized it as a tea from their home country! WOW! A world-wide favorite!
I’m not a fan of peppermint so I use the spearmint & wintergreen types of tea. I also boil/steep mine strong by adding less water to the pot & more tea sprigs. Then I can make it weaker when I add the sugar to my container. If I make it too strong I keep it in a mason jar in the fridge to use for another quart or gallon. I store it for no longer than a week. I bring it all to a boil at the same time. I never noticed it to be bitter & I have boiled it up to 20 min for a quicker batch. I never use aluminum pots, that might make a difference in the taste. Funny that I’m also from & live in Lancaster Co where the meadow tea grows abundantly everywhere. I would pick it for my grandmother while I played in the meadow at Frog Hollow
Thank you SO much for this!!! My boyfriend moved to Jersey where live, from Lancaster County where he grew up. They drink a TON of coffee and Meadow Tea with cookies, cakes, and donuts from the local Amish bakery. Whenever I ask his mom how to make it she laughs and just says she makes it. Some times I get, “I put the leaves in a pot and when it’s done I put in the sugar.” Then she laughs and says she likes a lot of sugar. I’ve gone out to events in Reading with his friends and they have giant containers of Meadow Tea but I’ve never had it. I had no clue it’s actually ICED tea!!! I CANNOT wait to surprise my boyfriend this summer with Meadow Tea now!!!
I have an abundance of meadow tea and am making several gallons a week. Now some of it is sending up seeds on the top. Can the leaves still be used or am I finished for the season? Any help on this question would be appreciated. Thank you.
Very helpful, had a friend share a mess of meadow tea, I’m wondering if you have any hints for drying? I’ve prepared mine just like I do my other mint varieties. I also have the flower portion to collect the seeds to start a bead of my own.
Is there a reason why the sugar is added at the end rather than when the water is boiling and before the leaves are put in.
Not Amish or Mennonite? Well that could be. I grew up Amish and we had gads of meadow tea. Prob loaded with sugar. Nice to see a food blogger from Lancaster County.