When my parents first moved to Amsterdam, my mother gushed about two things: the surplus of colorful bunches of tulips and the fresh mint tea, as standard in cafes as coffee. "They actually steep a large bunch of fresh mint, stems and all, in a cup of hot water," she told me over the phone. So simple, yet it sounded so novel. In America, cafes and restaurants usually serve prepackaged mint tea bags, stuffed with the dried, powdered herb that basically tastes like dust, but in Amsterdam, most grocers and restaurants are stocked with the cooling herb year round; the demand is that high.
When you do see fresh mint available in the produce section, be sure to snatch it. Fresh mint tea is so fragrant and comforting, prepare to develop a new addiction. In terms of flavor and quality, there's no comparing fresh mint tea to dried tea bags. Dried mint tea tends to become bitter when overbrewed, but there's no fear of overbrewing fresh mint. If anything, the more the fresh mint brews, the more essential minty oils release into the cup. Keep reading for the recipe.