Finally, after a long, hot, day of moving boxes into my storage unit, through the haze of our typical August mountain wildfire smoke, I started reading my long anticipated copy of The Cooking Cooking Gene by Michael W. Twitty. It’s a book that combines two of my favorite passions… food and genealogy.

I’ve followed Michael on Twitter over the past year, and regularly enjoy reading his blog Afroculinarina. I admire his honesty, and his ability to boldly speak his truth, and passionately defend his beliefs. Plus, he can occassionally make me cackle. That’s not only entertaining for me, but anyone around me who hears me laugh.

Except for my husband, when he is trying to sleep.

True story.

I was only about 20 pages into Michael’s book, when the pit in my stomach from worry, and my anxiety could no longer be ignored.

It wasn’t about the book.

It’s because, I am a worrier.

I’ve spent a lot of time worrying over the past couple of months, and weighing personal decisions that will affect my future.
I’ve been really stressed out.

When I worry, I get all sorts of physical manifestations of my stress.

Insomnia, compulsive over-eating, irritability, and most commonly, stomach aches. I’ve had issues in the past with ulcers as well.

On page 26, of The Cooking Gene, I found the inspiration I needed to soothe my worries, and my stomach.

Eloise Baker, my Virginia born grandmother, lived in the Brooklyn neighborhood in a little house she bought after years of being a domestic, surrounded by a garden planted full of spearmint she grew just for iced tea.

I remembered the dried, organic spearmint stashed in my cupboard. I thought about the years I spent at Starbucks working with coffee and tea. Plus, as a foodie, what better way is there to pay homage to a book about food, than to create something to eat or drink?

“Food is in many cases all we have, all we can go to, in order to feel our way into our past” Michael Twitty

My glass of spearmint sweet tea inspired by The Cooking Gene

Genealogy Jen’s Recipe for Organic Spearmint Iced Tea

You will need:

About 1/3 c dried spearmint leaves

About 1 tsp fresh grated ginger

1/4 c unwashed raw sugar (Or more to taste)

San Pelligrino sparking mineral water (optional)


2 Liters of water just off the boil

White cotton fabric or a loose leaf tea strainer

Dried spearmint from the local market

Use a heat resistant, non metal container to brew your tea. Into it, Crush the dried spearmint leaves. I like to do in with my bare hands. The oils help release the aroma from the leaves.

Plus, as an added bonus, you will have minty fresh fingers.

washed raw sugar I have no idea how they wash it, but at least it’s clean

Add the sugar, and ginger.

I love my microplane and use it for so many kitchen tasks like grating ginger. I use it so often,  I wore it out after 6 years, and bought replacement. If you don’t have one yet, you can get one from Amazon by clicking this link, and we can be twins. Or not.

At least you and I will have matching lime green microplanes.

Add water just off the boil

For your hot water, you can go old school, and boil your water for tea on the stove. Or go super old school, and do it over a fire.  If you want  the easy way though, you can use an electric kettle like me.

This electric kettle sits on my desk all winter while I write and research, and drink copious amounts of herbal tea to stay warm in here in the Idaho mountains. (I’m starting to realize I have a thing for lime green.)

Stir it a couple of times to make sure the raw sugar melted.

Honestly, if you use regular sugar, or honey, or agave nectar or some other random non-artificial sweetener, that’s okay too.

If you didn’t know, herbal tea should steep for 4-6 minutes.

I split the difference and went for 5. (If it steeps longer, it can develop an astringent flavor.)

If you have a loose leaf tea strainer, you can pop it over your container to strain out the tea leaves.

You can improvise like I did, if you don’t have one.

Be creative.

I used a 100% cotton kitchen towel, secured with a rubber band to strain my tea.

It’s functional, plus a nod, to the deep south Michael draws upon in his book)

Iced tea is made double strength.

After cooling, you can add a lid and keep it at room temperature for up to 24 hours, or refrigerate it for up to a week.

To serve, add a 50/ 50 mixture of tea and cold water. If you don’t want to wait for it to cool, you can pour it over a full glass of ice to chill it right away

I added San Pelligrino to mine instead of regular water tonight.

I already had some open.

Plus, San Pelligrino and saltines were my go to remedy when I was pregnant with my triplets. Even though it’s been over a decade, since I was pregnant with triplets, those bubbles still soothe my stomach.

I just can’t bring myself to eat a saltine cracker ever again though unless I’m pregnant.

Bread on the other hand?

Game on.

Let me know if you make this tea or a variation of my recipe. I think it would would make for a refreshing drink if you choose to read Michael’s book for your next book club selection.

**This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to purchase any of the items I personally own, and recommend through my links, I will receive a small commission. The IRS makes me say that, even though you probably know that already.

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