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Last Updated on August 23, 2022 by Scott
When we look for alternatives to drinking true teas, like herbal teas, it can be for a few different reasons. One reason would be to drink a cup or two of tea late at night without having to worry about caffeine keeping us up. Another might be to try different flavors to pair with food, probably a dessert.
In both of these cases, mint is an excellent choice. We reviewed a variety of mint teas, and this article we share our opinions on the best mint tea and also provide some information about mint that you may have not already have known.
Features to Consider for Mint Tea
Mint tea can cover different leaf origins, but the majority of them are based on peppermint. There are many health benefits to drinking peppermint tea but there are also some considerations to keep in mind.
What are the Differences Between Mint Tea and Tisanes?
Since there are no actual tea leaves of camellia Sinensis (like black, green, or white tea) in the majority of the mint teas, these end up being what is called a tisane. This word covers any other type of infusion in water, normally herbal, that does not include true tea leaves. Most herbs (and all mints leaves) are caffeine-free, providing a relaxing beverage for times when you don’t need a pick-me-up.
While many tisanes should be brewed with boiling water (212F / 100C), peppermint and other mint teas do better if the temperature is just a bit lower. Since they do have delicate leaves instead of flower heads or other herbs, the lower temperature can keep it from getting too much of a bitter flavor bruising the leaves.
When mint leaves are mixed with true tea, there can be some exciting results. One of the most popular mixtures like this is Moroccan mint tea, which blends spearmint with green gunpowder tea. Adding sugar in the pot during the steeping process creates a sweet minty afternoon drink with a bit of a caffeine kick to keep you going.
What’s the Difference Between Peppermint and Spearmint?
Most mint tea will contain peppermint, and sometimes peppermint leaves will be the only ingredient in American mint tea. Peppermint tea has a sharp, biting menthol flavor that seems to be favored since the flavor is so distinct and easy to extract from leaves. When mixed with true tea leaves, it works well standing up to black tea.
Spearmint, on the other hand, is mild, sweet, and has a natural calming effect. It takes a little more effort sometimes to coax the flavor out of the leaves with just water, so spearmint mostly works better as an addition or blend where other herbs or teas are the main ingredients. Mix with white, green, or light oolong tea leaves to freshen the flavor up a bit.
When looking at the origins of each of these mints you start to find out why they are different, but also very similar. Peppermint is actually a crossbreed of a plant that is a combination of spearmint and water mint. Water mint has an extremely strong flavor and smell and is not recommended for eating or making tea without it being thoroughly blended with other foods.
Mint Tea Health Benefits
Since the majority of mint teas are based around peppermint, we will be focusing on the health benefits from that particular type of mint. Peppermint has been around for thousands of years, being used for simple daily tasks from freshening breath to adding hints of flavor to chocolate. In addition to its flavor, peppermint tea could also be considered a health supplement.
While most studies on peppermint are based around peppermint extract, we can get some ideas as to how a peppermint infusion could help us as well. Some of the peppermint’s health benefits may include:
- Helping an Upset Stomach – Gas, bloating, and constipation are the main issues that peppermint tea may be able to help with. The digestive system is calmed by peppermint, helping with symptoms of issues like IBS. Nausea may also be reduced.
- Helping Digestion – Just as with an upset stomach, mint tea may be able to help with digestion.
- Fresh Breath – There is a reason why many oral hygiene products have “mint” as the main flavor or scent. In addition to the pleasant scent, peppermint has antibacterial properties that may reduce the amount of bacteria in the mouth.
- Loosening Clogged Sinuses – One of the main compounds in peppermint is menthol. Menthol has been used in many topical pharmaceuticals to help you feel like you are breathing easier.
- May Improve Concentration – While only small studies have been conducted on this concept, anecdotal evidence seems to point to peppermint oil and its volatile compounds improving concentration.
What are the Side Effects of Mint Tea?
Unfortunately, there can be some side effects with mint tea for those who are susceptible to them. Spearmint is generally safe when exposed to small food-sized doses, but larger amounts may cause problems with women who are pregnant.
Peppermint not only has a stronger flavor and fragrance than spearmint but also has more possible side effects. Too much peppermint can possibly cause heartburn or dry mouth, and in extreme cases where large amounts of leaves are consumed without diluting, nausea and vomiting may occur
There are some specific cases where people should abstain from consuming large amounts of peppermint. Many of the problems listed below would only happen with unreasonable amounts being consumed, but they are important to know.
- If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, limit the amount of peppermint per day.
- Children may experience intestinal discomfort after consuming too much natural peppermint or peppermint oil.
- Peppermint may increase symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease.
Where Does Mint Tea Come From?
Mint tea is very common and sourced from many parts of the world, particularly across Southern Asia, Southern China and Europe. Considering that mint is native to many geographic regions, you’ll find many variations and cultivars. For example, there are multiple varieties of mint tea coming from North America and South America (compared to other teas that are traditionally sources from Asian countries). In fact, it’s also quite simple to grow mint in your own backyard, so mint tea could actually come from just about anywhere!
How to Make Homemade Mint Tea
This video provides a step-by-step approach to brewing your own Mint Tea.
Mint tea comes in different forms, from pure peppermint and simple loose teas widely available in the United States, to blends like Moroccan mint tea that are based around true teas like green gunpowder. Other herbal blends use mint as a balance with other flavors to give a more rounded flavor profile.
From our point of view, the best mint teas are mostly based around peppermint. We just love the refreshing flavor coming from menthol as well as the health benefits and fresh breath. When looking for mint teas, judge for yourself whether you want a stronger or more mild flavor, and make your decision from there.
Scott is the founder of TeaMinded. He enjoys tasting and discovering teas from across the globe, with green teas and ceremonial matcha from Japan being among his favorites. He’s grateful to be immersed in the tea community, always learning and sharing along the journey.