Refreshing Mint Lemonade

I feel like Summer is finally kicking in – the days are hot, the kids just had a week of camp, and produce is abundant.  We are spending the day catching up on things long past due, so it will be nice to take a break and enjoy a refreshing glass of lemonade.  I am a water drinker, for the most part, and I tend to guzzle it on the run, but sometimes it’s nice to sit down and really enjoy a drink.  While today is a perfect day for cooling herbs like mint, there are many other options for flavoring this drink – it could blended with fresh berries along with the mint, rosemary or basil could replace the mint, limes would replace the lemons for limeade, it could be ginger or ginger-mint lemonade, and I’m sure you can come up with many of your own delicious options.

The sweetener in this recipe is stevia, which is a sweet herb.  I buy it here in Boulder at Rebecca’s Herbal Apothecary in dried form, though you can certainly grow your own stevia if you choose.  I choose stevia in this dried herb form rather than concentrated or extracted forms because I think it’s best to keep our ingredients as close to their natural state as possible; and because those other forms tend to have a bitter or unpleasant aftertaste which has not been my experience with the herb form.  I like to use a variety of low impact sweeteners and stevia herb is often my choice when I want to sweeten a drink.  This herb has become known by some as one of those miracle ingredients, in this case one that has been used safely for hundreds of years in other countries and will give you a sweet taste without affecting your blood sugar or adding empty calories.  In other camps, stevia is dangerous, untested, and questionable at best (that’s the FDA stance).  I’m not convinced it’s a miracle, but I’m also not convinced that it’s bad, so I like to use stevia herb periodically in unprocessed form and, of course, in moderation.

You will to filter out the stevia leaves and lemon peel before drinking the tea.  If you have a tea ball (a wire mesh strainer that encases the herbs), you can use that or a piece of cheesecloth tied with twine to encase them while they infuse their flavor into the drink.  If neither of those is available, you can make the lemonade in one container and pour it through a strainer into your pitcher or jar.

  • 4 whole, fresh lemons
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon dried stevia leaf
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint
  • optional: 1/2 cup blended fresh berries, extra mint, lemon slices, and fresh berries for garnishing

With a sharp knife, slice the yellow part of the lemon peel off your lemons and set aside, then juice lemons into a large measuring cup.  Add the water.  Crumble the dried stevia between your fingers and put it and the lemon peels in a tea ball or tie them into a piece of cheesecloth and add that to the lemon water.  Stir in the julienned mint and blended berries, if using.  Let it sit for about 15 minutes before removing the tea ball/cheesecloth.  Pour into glasses and garnish with fresh mint leaves, lemon slices, and fresh berries if you went the berry route.  Enjoy!

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