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Drying Mint for Tea – Best Techniques?

June 15th, 2009 · 14 Comments

Spearmint Comin' Up

Spearmint Comin' Up

I just harvested the first cutting of my four varieties of mint growing in various gardens. I am growing

  • Spearmint
  • Peppermint
  • Greek Mint
  • Another Spearmint Variety (Large Leafed)

Some techniques commonly used to dry mint are:

  • Bundle and hang from Stems in a dark, very dry place (if possible with paper bags around the bundles)
  • Put in Paper bags
  • Place in oven at very low temperature for a short while and then turn oven off (hang in oven if possible)
  • Hang and Air Dry in ventilated place
  • Dry in Microwave
  • Place in front of dehumidifier

I like the first three techniques as they the process is easier on the plant. Drawing the water out of the plant through the paper bags is, to me the best way and maximizes the preservation of essential oils.  I would recommend this technique for many other plants as well.  Others suggest this technique is not good due to the paper absorbing the essential oils.  I have not found this to be the case from my experiences.

The last three to me are not as good choices due to the harshness of drying which can lead to the loss of essential oils.  Some people put the mint in the oven on low temperature until dry and while I haven’t tried that, it just seems a bit harsh).  Plus if you need the mint quick, just use it fresh!  I like to use it to make tea everyday while its in the process of drying as well as after.

The best time to pick the mint (or any other herb) is right before it flowers in the early to mid morning.  This is when the most essential oils are present sending all of its plant goodness into the reproductive process and producing all that aroma, flavor and other magic!

I took the first cutting of mint recently – Mid-June here. (could have probably waited a bit longer but am going away and don’t want it to go to flower)  Im sure it will pop right back up for a second cutting in a month or so.  Ill change this article when I make the second cutting.

While there are many uses for mint, I mostly use it for tea.  It is one of my favorite medicinal herbs and is amazing for aiding in digestion, calming the nerves, and giving a relaxing earthy feeling.  Dr. Weil,  best known for establishing and popularizing the field of integrative medicine explains the medicinal benefits of tea:

Peppermint is a wonderful digestive remedy, especially useful for the upper GI tract, for relief of heartburn, indigestion, nausea, and the like. You can buy pure peppermint leaf tea in most supermarkets. Brew it in a covered container to avoid loss of volatile components, and drink as much of it as you like, hot or iced. This herb is also soothing to the lower GI tract. Enteric-coated capsules of peppermint oil have been used for irritable bowel syndrome. Enteric coating resists attack by stomach acid, so the capsules pass into the intestines intact and release their contents there. As with garlic, our familiarity with peppermint makes us less likely to take it seriously as a medicine, but in fact it is one of the most powerful and effective remedies for gastrointestinal complaints. It is also nontoxic.

Other plants I am growing in the mint family:

  • Lemon Balm
  • Lavender Bergamot
  • Catnip
  • Lavender
  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • Marjoram
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme

Leave a comment sharing your experiences with drying mint and the different ways you use it.

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Tags: Herbs · Medicinal · Organic Gardening Techniques · Storing Techniques

14 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Doug // May 4, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    How large of a bundle or how many cuttings to a bundle? If I put in a bag why or how do I hang? Your quick response would be appreciated as I have already harvested my first cutting.

  • 2 David // May 5, 2010 at 9:10 am

    Hi Doug, A good handful per cutting is about right. You may want to try different sizes to see what works best for you. If you put it in a bag, you really don’t need to hang it but the hanging is supposed to keep the essential oils in the leaves as they dry. The longer it takes to dry the more essential oil gets lost. So try a bunch of different techniques and see what works best for you. You could even try putting it in the oven on a very low temperature (similar to a dehydrator which probably works best). You could even try freezing some of the fresh herbs. I will be writing an article about that shortly. Let us know how you made out. -David

  • 3 Renee // Sep 19, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    How do you know when your herbs are ready to store in a jar ? I am drying chocolate mint & basil. I m VERY new to this :)

  • 4 David // Sep 22, 2010 at 8:07 am

    Hi Renee, In general, leaves should be brittle enough to break between the fingers, but not so dry that they crumble. Stems and stalks should be breakable between the fingers, also, and not bendable. Good Luck!

  • 5 Renee // Sep 24, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    Thank you David. :) I can crumble the mint quite easily, so Im assuming that its ready, but the basil still feels soft. They both have been drying the same length of time. I put bags over the basil, but they had already been hanging for almost a week. Was it to late for the bags? Am I wasting my time with that?

  • 6 David // Sep 28, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    Hi Renee, The bags are good for keeping in the essential oils in while pulling moisture out, but there isn’t that much of a difference (in my opinion). The results should be similar. Come back and let us know how it’s going for ya. Hope you git a nice crop!

  • 7 Nicky // Oct 16, 2010 at 9:12 pm

    I am VERY new to this whole process. I have a lot of wild mint, every year. I potted some this year & don’t want to do without over the winter. Can I dry the mint in a $2 dehydrator that I found at a church rummage sale (w/o instructions). Can I just lay my mint on its trays & watch them get dry?

  • 8 David // Oct 18, 2010 at 10:35 am

    Try out the dehydrator and hang some and see which you like better. It may be a better use of your time to hang it all instead of the dehydrator as that would be a lot of work (Im guessing you have a lot of mint). Try some though and if the product is superior in the dehydrator, consider using it more next year. I have a large batch hanging right now in my room, and it smells soooo goood. Good Luck!

  • 9 JP // Jul 10, 2011 at 11:42 am

    I dried mint by putting it in a paper bag and leaving it in my car for a couple of days. ;D

  • 10 Laura // Aug 14, 2011 at 8:56 am

    I want to dry apple mint – but it takes soooolong tohang dry(like a couple months) as the stems and leaves are thick and fuzzy. I think i`ll try the bag idea. For the last batch I harvested, I experimented with taking off the leaves and putting them on a screen. Much quicker dry time, and they stay greenish vs the blah looking color when i hang them in the dark – however, this is way more labour intensive…any tips´would be appreciated.

  • 11 eileen // Oct 5, 2011 at 9:32 am

    Thanks for all the info. I gather a brown lunch bag is good.
    I live in Bklyn, when will be the next harvest time, no flowers yet, and it will soon get cold.
    How long will it last bef9re it dies.

  • 12 Debbie // May 20, 2012 at 8:47 pm

    I grow chocolate mint, which I love in hot tea. I have also made it iced and put in fresh berries that are in season. The other day I had left over lemon slices in my cup from iced water, and I decided to try mixing the two. I liked it- very unique flavor.

  • 13 margaret // Oct 29, 2012 at 5:44 am

    i have just discovered that a beautiful flowering tree in my garden is peppermint. i have read here how to dry the leaves but how long after flowering can i harvest the leaves or can you use the flowers as well.Also how much of the leaves do you use in a cup for drinking?

  • 14 Linda Graham // May 5, 2013 at 9:49 am

    This is probably a very stupid question, but I suppose you wash the mint before you dry it – I live in a desert area so buy a bunch of mint and end up throwing most of it out – I’m sure it needs to be rinsed. Help!

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