Peppermint TeaWikipedia: Peppermint
Updated: Nov. 13, 2014
About Peppermint Teaspearmint (Mentha spicata) and watermint (Mentha aquatica). Besides its use in herbal tea, it is a common flavoring in candy, often paired with chocolate.
Peppermint is the most widely-available mint in herbal tea, although it is not necessarily the "typical" or "default" mint; because of its distinctive aroma it is usually called by its full name rather than referred to generically as "mint", which usually references spearmint.
Aroma and FlavorThe aroma of peppermint is familiar to most people in the U.S., as it is the flavoring of candy canes and other peppermint candy. The aroma is usually described as fresh and invigorating, and peppermint also creates a powerful cooling sensation, stronger than other mints. Peppermint has one of the most intense aromas of all the herbs commonly used in teas. Even a small amount of peppermint leaf added to an herbal blend can drown out other ingredients.
Use in Herbal Teas and Tea BlendsBecause of its dominating nature, peppermint is less versatile than other mints in blends, and it is thus either used on its own, or in very small quantities. Common blending ingredients include chamomile and hibiscus. Peppermint does not blend with true tea (green or black tea) as other mints, although it is sometimes used in such blends.
The Peppermint PlantPeppermint is a sterile hybrid, meaning that it cannot reproduce by seeds. It can persist in the wild in vegetative colonies, spreading by underground runners. Wild populations in Eurasia can be the result of natural hybridization where the range of spearmint and watermint overlap, but most populations are escapes or populations of formerly cultivated plants.
This peppermint plant has slightly rounder leaves and only lightly reddish stems. Photo by Forest & Kim Starr, licensed under CC BY 3.0.
IdentificationMost peppermint is easily identified by its distinctive smell, although a few unusual cultivars like 'Orange Mint' or 'Chocolate Mint' smell very different.
Like all true mints (Mentha sp.), peppermint has square stems, opposite leaves, and a neat, symmetrical growth habit, with many stems rising from underground runners. The shape of the leaves, however, is more variable across the different peppermint cultivars than the natural variation that exists within most pure species of mint. Many, but not all varieties of peppermint have reddish-purple stems, and sometimes the leaves have a reddish-purple tinge, usually strongest along the veins and around the edges. Many peppermint plants have long, narrow leaves like spearmint, but some have shorter, more rounded leaves.
Gardening and CultivationThe growing requirements of peppermint are similar to spearmint, and it shares that plant's aggressive growth habit. Peppermint thrives in moist temperate climates, where it does best in part shade and moist soil rich in organic matter.
Peppermint is an aggressive plant, but when grown together, spearmint sometimes out-competes peppermint; this is especially true of some of the peppermint cultivars selected for their particular aromas. But more vigorous varieties of peppermint still outcompete many garden plants, and are safest to grow in containers for this reason.
New peppermint cultivars can be created by cross-pollinating spearmint and watermint, but propagation of that preserves the distinct aromatic profile of a given plant must be done by cutting. Like other mints, peppermint is easy to grow from stem cuttings. Cuttings can be placed in a glass of water and allowed to root in water, then later planted, or they can be buried horizontally in soil.
Best Peppermint Tea
The notion of the "best" Peppermint Tea is subjective, because different people have different tastes. We present the most often-rated and highest-rated teas in this category, and allow you to draw your own conclusions.