Mint, the ancient herb
The mint family is a truly ancient class of plants containing over 30 different species and has been part of the culinary world for thousands of years. The name comes from the Greek nymph Menthe who was turned into a plant by Persephone and sprigs of mint have even been found in ancient Egyptian tombs!
The tradition of drinking mint tea can be found around the world. Peppermint tea is widely drunk in Europe, where it is valued for its fresh cooling taste and digestive properties. Meanwhile spearmint has been traditionally used with green tea in Morocco as a miraculously refreshing and slightly caffeinated brew - try it on a hot summer’s day!
Different types of mint tea
The two varieties used most often for tea are Peppermint and Spearmint. Both boast properties long celebrated in the ancient medicinal cultures of the world and are actually closely related. Spearmint, so called for its pointed leaves, is native to Europe and Asia, whilst Peppermint with its rounder leaves is actually a hybrid of Spearmint and Water Mint, first recorded in Britain by the botanist Linnaeus in the 18th century.
Traditionally peppermint tea has been used to aid digestion and is enjoyed after meals as a palate cleanser. It has very high levels of menthol which helps give its distinctive cooling taste properties. According to the UK Tea and Infusions Association, recent studies have shown that peppermint can be used to relieve the symptoms of indigestion and IBS by calming the muscles of the stomach. Peppermint is rich in vitamin C and it is also a good source of minerals including magnesium, copper, iron, potassium and calcium.
Spearmint shares many digestive properties with Peppermint although it has less of the essential oil menthol and therefore the taste is softer and a little sweeter. It contains a slightly different make-up of plant chemicals and excellent antioxidant properties including vitamin A, beta-carotene and vitamin C, as well as folates and B vitamins, including riboflavin, thiamin and vitamin B6. The UK Tea and Infusions Association states that laboratory tests suggest that spearmint may also have antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties.
Dragonfly’s Mint teas
When making our mint teas at Dragonfly, we dry the leaves in order to retain the characteristics and benefits of the mint to help create a superior infusion. Pure Peppermint is our popular mint tea and is made using nothing but carefully sourced organic peppermint leaves.
Inspired by the Moroccan tradition, we have created our own much-loved Moroccan Mint Green Tea, blending aromatic spearmint leaves with smoky gunpowder green tea - so called as the leaves are rolled tightly into small balls that resemble gunpowder. Usually drunk in Morocco with sugar or honey, we recommend trying ours just as it is, using water that has cooled a little so as not to scald the leaves, for a truly delicious balanced cup.