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Chill out with this cooling herb-steeped tea

Fresh basil figured prominently in a recent Britt Festivals picnic for my family. But we still had to finish the meal with mint — ice cream, that is.

Mint is predictably cool, clean and palate-cleansing — season in and season out. After a food-section spread last month, this blog has featured several more recipes with mint, including lettuce wraps, Indian-style chutney and an alternative interpretation of pesto.

With high temperatures still the trend for a few more days, mint still looms large in my eating and drinking. This twist on traditional Moroccan tea is guaranteed to cool the hottest days and refresh the weariest palates. Raise this glass with a toast to cooler days in the weekend forecast.

Mint Tea

Level 2 teaspoons loose-leaf gunpowder green tea (may substitute Dragon Well green tea)

1 cup packed fresh mint leaves (may substitute a blend of mint and other fresh herbs), plus sprigs for garnish

2 tablespoons sugar, or more as needed

Bring 3 1/2 cups water preferably filtered, to a rolling boil, in either a teakettle or saucepan over high heat; keep it at a boil while you make tea.

Place the tea leaves in a teapot. Pour 1/2 cup boiling water over them. Let teapot sit for 10 seconds, then swirl it for 5 seconds. Pour out that water, using a strainer as needed to make sure no leaves escape.

Pour another 1/2 cup boiling water into the teapot, immediately swirl it, then pour it out, making sure no leaves escape.

Fill teapot with remaining 2 1/2 cups boiling water. Add the fresh mint leaves; use a spoon to press them down gently. Sprinkle in the sugar. Cover and let steep for 2 minutes.

Pour out a glass of tea, then return it to pot; repeat that step 2 or 3 more times to dissolve sugar and blend flavors. Taste for sweetness and strength, adding sugar if needed and/or steeping a bit longer.

Pour tea through a strainer into clear glasses half filled with ice. Or strain tea into a jug or pitcher and chill in refrigerator before serving. Garnish with mint sprigs, and serve.

Makes 4 servings.

Recipe adapted by the Washington Post from "Morocco: A Culinary Journey With Recipes," by Jeff Koehler (Chronicle, 2012).

Tribune News Service photo