Mint tea is the favorite herbal tea for many people. There are several varieties of mint. Among them, peppermint tea and spearmint tea are the most popular ones and have the highest consumption. Some people consume it just because they like the fresh flavor and strong aroma of mint. Others like to have it for its health benefits. A cup of freshly prepared mint tea after a heavy meal helps in proper digestion of the food. It can be used for relieving a bad headache. Besides, it is also well-known for its healing qualities. If you are fond of mint tea, you can prepare your own tea leaves at home and it is going to be an enjoyable experience for you.
How to Dry Mint Leaves for Tea
If you have freshly grown mint leaves in your kitchen garden, you can harvest them just before the growing season and dry them up. The best time to pluck fresh leaves is early morning once the dew dries. While harvesting, you can simply pick up handful of leaves from the plants or cut a few small stems from it. If you do not have mint leaves at home, then visit the nearest market and pick up a few bundles of fresh mint leaves. A thorough washing of the leaves with clean water is a must to get rid of the dust and dirt stuck on them. Place the washed mint leaves on paper towels for sometime to soak out maximum water from them.
There are two different ways of air drying mint leaves. You can spread the leaves as an even layer on a flat bamboo mat and place it in a shaded dust free area with proper air circulation. Here, I would like to tell you one thing that direct sun exposure should be strictly avoided as the heat of the sun dries up its natural oils and the leaves lose their flavor and aroma. The most suitable temperature range for drying mint leaves is 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit. If you have plucked the leaves along with the branches, then you can make bundles out of them and hang them to dry. Tie up each bundle tightly with a small piece of string. Now, hang these bunches of leaves suspended upside down inside a room. You have to select one such room for drying mint leaves that does not receive too much of sunlight but has good ventilation.
Humidity can promote growth of mold on leaves. If you live in a humid climate, then use of a humidifier in the room to keep the indoor air dry. This in turn will ensure faster drying of the leaves and prevent mold growth. The leaves will take around one or two week to dry up properly which largely depends on the atmospheric condition. After one week, crush a few mint leaves randomly to check if they are dry and crispy. If yes, then you can start using them now.
How to Dry Mint Leaves in a Microwave Oven
As you can see, air drying mint leaves takes a long time and you have to wait for at least one week before you can get dried leaves for tea. A faster method of drying mint leaves involves heating them in a microwave. It could be a bit surprising for you but it can give you instant results. You have to wash the leaves thoroughly and then spread them on a flat surface to evaporate out the water from them. Heat the mint leaves for about half an hour by spreading them in the form of a thin layer on a baking sheet in a microwave oven, at a temperature of 180 degrees. After that, turn off the oven but keep the leaves inside the oven for one or two hours till they dry up completely. Once the leaves turn crispy, you are ready to use them for tea.
Now that you know how to dry mint leaves for tea, you can dry them up in bulk and store it for regular use. However, while storing them care has to be taken that the dried leaves are not exposed to any form of moisture. If you have dried the leaves along with the branches, then strip off the leaves from the stalk before storing them. Put the dried leaves in a clean and dry airtight glass jar and keep the container in a cool and dry place. Always use a dry spoon to take out the leaves from the jar.