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Opinion — Hello, here’s a recipe for mint tea

Hello, Farmville and environs!

I just moved here and I’d shake your collective hands, but I’m too busy trying not to trip over the 5,382 boxes of badly-organized packing I have to sort through.

Does anyone else have that problem when moving to a new place?

Shannon Watkins

I start out with the very best of intentions to stay organized and on task while I’m gathering my things and tucking them away for transport, but when I’m unpacking at my new place I find a box stuffed with an assortment of objects like batteries, underpants, a French dictionary and a broom. The disturbing part is that I don’t speak French, though I did take it in high school.

But we’re not here to talk about my unpacking woes. We’re here to talk about herbal relief. Wait, no, not that kind. Well, I’m not here to talk about it, myself. If you are, that’s your business. I’m not here to judge.

What I mean is the kind that you grow in your very own yard. I love the phrase “herb garden.” It sounds like you’ve firmly established yourself in one place — I see now that possibly what I like most is the implied lack of packing and moving — and are good with plants, a trait many of my family members have that I did not inherit.

The herbs in question are the sort that get blogged about in a certain annoying, precious way. Look, writing is hard sometimes, and the ability to put together a coherent sentence seems like an increasingly rare skill, so maybe I shouldn’t get sniffy about tone or content.

That said, I’ll bet you know what I mean: writers who swoon rapturously about quaint details while humblebragging about how well traveled they are. “I remember my late summer days in Provence as a student,” they say, “when the shy, bonneted peasant girls would come strolling in from the fields in the evenings, their arms full of lavender and mint, and the westering sun enveloped everything in its golden Mediterranean embrace.” That sort of thing.

Writing in that vein makes you think of herbs as very ladyish, like you’d grow a plot of assorted seasoning and healing plants and then wander amongst them in a lacy dress like an escapee from a Jane Austen novel. Never mind that every serious gardener you know has permanent knee smudges and grimy nails and is forever looking at weeds with an expression that would make an executioner blanch.

In particular, it makes mint sound like a very genteel herb, one that refined ladies and gentlemen keep in their gardens, shy as the aforementioned peasants, waiting quietly to be noticed.

Thus I was very surprised when I spoke to a gardener friend and found out mint is not a bashful young girl but more of a full-blown crazed psycho. Mint is hyperaggressive and will choke out other herbs in the garden. If mint could shank you, it absolutely would. I would pay good money to see a mint vs. kudzu cage match (although it would still be pretty quiet).

The best thing to do with mint, especially during such a hot summer, is to put it in its place by making a tea of it. Luckily, I have a good recipe from the same gardener, a friend I left behind in Galax.

I had one sip of this and practically went mint on her, demanding the recipe. (I think “went mint” for someone going full aggro should enter our common phrasebook.) She obliged, but I can’t recall if she got it from somewhere else — it has a very Southern Living vibe — or invented it herself.

Either way, it’s great for our current sweltering weather, refreshing, delicious and keeps the threat of unrestrained mint away. Every time I have a glass, I want to plant a garden, even though I don’t have a green thumb.

I do, however, have a book about gardening, but first I have to find it. I should probably start looking next to wherever I packed the batteries. Or maybe near my underpants.

Carol’s Citrus Mint Iced Tea

4 tea bags

1 cup sugar

6 big sprigs of mint

½ can of frozen lemonade

½ can frozen orange juice

Bring a medium pan of water to a boil and remove from heat. Add tea bags and mint sprigs and steep for 30 minutes. Put sugar and fruit juices in a gallon pitcher. Strain solids from tea and add to container. Stir together until sugar dissolves. Add enough water to make a gallon and stir lightly again. Refrigerate and serve over ice.

SHANNON WATKINS is a staff reporter for The Farmville Herald and Farmville Newsmedia LLC. Her email address is Shannon.Watkins@FarmvilleHerald.com.