A refreshing cocktail from the garden for a lazy, sunny afternoon!
Rhubarb and mint are very hardy perennial plants that do not require too much attention in the garden… You almost forget they’re there until their rhizomes awaken in spring, and the plants go crazy! Rhubarb is technically a vegetable, even if used culinarily as a fruit with sugar, and the taste is very tart. The leaves are toxic, only the stem (petioles) is edible and the roots are used in traditional Chinese medicine. Rhubarb is commonly cooked in pies and desserts but as it can be harvested in spring to late summer, why not make something refreshing and full of antioxidants and vitamins to drink?
The mint is another easy-growing and spreading plant in the garden, which is at its best at the same time of year. Yes, mint is lovely in the kitchen and garden. It is a very hardy plant and low maintenance but highly invasive (recommended to be grown in a pot or container). Various varieties of fresh mint can be infused to flavour tea, and it has many health benefits. Adding a bit of lemon and some local honey as sweetening makes a perfect hydrating low-sugar cocktail. If you wish to serve this as a red lemonade for little ones, you can just make this recipe without the green tea. No way would I return to any commercial powdered lemonade or iced tea that was popular in our childhood (even though, at that age, we just loved anything sweet). There might be more work behind home growing food, but there are some easy ways to benefit from abundant and lazy gardening crops, just like this!
Mint and rhubarb flavours from the garden • Photos © Bottle and Brush Studio 2019
INGREDIENTS (for about 1 litre of tea):
Rhubarb (about a dozen stems, chopped)
Fresh mint (about two large sprigs)
Juice of ½ lemon (use the other half cut in slices to serve)
3 tbsp honey (local and organic preferably)
2 green tea bags (optional)
6 cups of water
PREPARATION: In a medium pot, bring to the boil 2 cups of water with rhubarb and honey. Simmer for about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large iced tea jug, infuse the green tea and mint with 4 cups of boiled water to taste.
Remove the tea bags and mint, and add the lemon juice.
Strain the rhubarb juice and add the liquid to the jug.
The rest of the rhubarb flesh, tea and mint can be discarded in the compost.
Let mixture cool, and add lemon slices and ice cubes to serve.
It can be stored in the fridge for a few days.