This morning I bent over the kitchen counter to better inspect a small pile of green mint leaves spread out on a paper towel. Yesterday I cut back my overgrown plant of hierba buena, and a friend suggested I dry the foliage and make tea. But what were those little brown nodules on the back of some of the largest leaves? Are they bugs, fungus, or just some blight from all the rain we’ve had? Would tea made with these leaves be safe to drink? And just how dry do mint leaves have to be to make the best tea?
“I should google it,” was my immediate thought, one I have about once an hour. It’s a given these days that if you have a question, someone, somewhere will have posted an answer; and if not, you can post the question, and expect a speedy response. “I’ll bet some Birkenstock-shod earth mother in Vermont would know,” I thought, “or some organic farmer in Mexico, or even further south in the hemisphere. Where else do people drink mint tea? China? Don’t know. Definitely the Middle East: Egypt, Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Iran?” Images of white pajama-clad figures sitting on bentwood chairs in sidewalk cafes came to mind.
About the time I was harvesting my mint leaves, people in Iran had a few hours unfettered access to Facebook and the rest of the internet universe. But the door slammed shut, as so many doors do. Anyone hooked up to an Iranian server has no direct access to information on how to prepare authentic Texas barbecue. Conversely, the U.S. blockade of websites ending in .ir remains largely unbreached. They want to keep us safe from teaching each other how to make bombs. But don’t you think most of the people in the world would rather make mint tea or barbecue?