Recently I was lucky to forage water mint beside a beautiful lake. It also grows alongside ponds, streams, rivers, in damp meadows, marshes, fens and woods.
Water mint is a perennial herb and therefore its a plant that lives for several years. Its also one of the commonest forms of mint in Britain.
Taking a few top leaves from different plants I took them home to make mint tea because its fantastic to ease stomach discomfort. I often have this issue due to digestive problems.
Its best to pick the top leaves of the water mint just before it comes into flower because the older leaves taste more bitter. Mint is fresh and perfect to pick in June and July. So are other summer herbs like basil, chives and dill.
If you are new to foraging take a look at my “Foraging Tips for Beginners” post;
Identifying Water Mint
Apart from where water mint grows, here are some other ways to tell it apart from other mints;
- Flowers July to September and the flowers are blueish-lilac.
- Grows in clumps up to 2 feet high.
- Dark green leaves often have a purple tinge and grow in opposite pairs. The leaves are also hairy and rough.
- They are square stemmed.
I now use a pocket book to identify wild foods because I can easily take this foraging with me. Its called “Food for Free” by Richard Mabey and its very useful because it includes descriptions, pictures, recipes and a little history.
If you would like to take a look at this book for yourself here is a link;
How to Make Fresh Mint Tea
After my forage I put my “goodies” onto my garden table for a couple of hours to let any insects still lurking around disappear. This did the trick with the herbs but it may not have been necessary with the mint. This is because its smell tends to repels many insects anyway. These insects include aphids, cabbage looper, flea beetles, squash bugs, whiteflies, and the Small White butterflies.
Next I wash the leaves and lay them on kitchen roll to dry for a week or two. When they crumble in my hands I know that they are ready.
How I make a mint tea;
- Boil a cup of bottled water.
- Add 1-2 teaspoons of dried mint depending on taste.
- Place a plate over the cup and infuse for 5-10 minutes.
- Strain and serve.
Mint tea can be drank as often as required. When I run out of dried leaves from foraging I use peppermint tea that I buy from the store instead.
The fresh tea is a pale green in colour as opposed to the much darker peppermint shop bought variety. Furthermore although the tea has a “peppermint” taste and smell its much milder. I like to add 3 drops of stevia to mine and this certainly enhances the flavour.
Take a look at my “Drinking Peppermint Tea under the Full Worm Moon” post to see the difference in the colour;
If you prefer use a couple of sprigs of fresh mint instead of the dry and maybe add a slice of lemon or honey.
Uses of the Tea
Water mint tea may support the body in much the same way as peppermint tea with regards to;
- Digestion and problems of the gut
- Easing wind, gastric discomfort and bloating
- Involuntary muscle spasms
- Inducing sweating
- Nausea and motion sickness
- Mildly sedative effects
- Lowering blood pressure
Other ways mint may support the body includes;
- Easing headaches by rubbing fresh mint leaves onto your temples.
- Some say chewing fresh mint can ease coughs and hiccups.
A Persion Oxymel of Mint and Vinegar
I thank Julie Bruton-Seal and Matthew Seal for their “Hedgerow Medicine” for this oxymel. I use it to help with digestion before a meal due to my weak stomach. It makes a nice change from my usual teaspoon of cider vinegar in a glass of water.
How I make the oxymel;
- Boil one cup of bottled water in a pan.
- Add four teaspoons of white granulated sugar and stir until it completely dissolves.
- Add 1/2 cup of cider vinegar.
- Simmer for 20 minutes and stir occasionally.
- Remove from the heat and add a few sprigs of water mint.
- Leave to cool while the mint flavour is infusing into the mixture.
- Remove the sprigs and pour into bottles and / or ice cube trays for the freezer. I like to do both and use old cider vinegar bottles which I then store in the fridge.
- Serve with ice cold water and use the bottle of oxymel like a cordial.
I love this pre-dinner drink which I try to consume at least half an hour before I eat.
Julie Bruton-Seal and Matthew Seal’s books are great. They have lovely illustrations for identification, brilliant recipes to try and loads of useful information about the herbs themselves. Here is a link to “Hedgerow Medicine” if you wish to take a look for yourself;
Other Ways to Consume the Mint
Water mint has a taste similar to peppermint but is slightly more bitter. As a result its uses are the same as those for peppermint and include;
- Making sauces and chutneys
- Add to cooked egg and cheese dishes
- Cook with new potatoes
Mint is used in prosperity spells and to anoint wallets by rubbing them with mint oil.
Peppermint in particular has the following magical uses;
- Adding to healing incenses and charms.
- Burning to cleanse a house in winter.
- Inhaling crushed leaves when having difficulty falling asleep.
Be aware that you never know if you’re intolerant to something new until you try it for the first time. Therefore only try a tiny amount first and wait a day or two to check that there is no adverse reaction.
If you have any pre-existing medical conditions or are taking any medications, always check with your doctor to ensure that using any of these suggestions don’t contradict them.
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