What is Mint?
The word “mint” comes from the Greek legend of the nymph Minthe, who attracted the attention of Hades. Hades’ wife, the jealous Persephone, attacked Minthe and was in the process of trampling her to death when Hades turned her into the herb (and was ever sacred to him).
A symbol of hospitality and wisdom, “the very smell of it reanimates the spirit”, Pliny tells us. Ancient Hebrews scattered mint on their synagogue floors so that each footstep would raise its fragrance. Ancient Greeks and Romans rubbed tables with mint before their guests arrive. The Romans brought it and mint sauce to Britain. The pilgrims brought it to the United States aboard the Mayflower. The Japanese have distilled peppermint oil for several centuries and the oil is further treated to produce menthol.
The smell is known to keep mice away and pennyroyal is also regarded as an effective insecticidal against fleas and aphids.
Smell: Spearmint and peppermint: aromatic and fresh Pennyroyal: aromatic, pungent and acrid
Flavour: Spearmint is generally a sweet flavour imparting a cool sensation to the mouth. Peppermint has a stronger menthol taste. Pennyroyal is strong with a medicinal flavour.
Hotness Scale: 0-2
Preparation and Storage
Dried mint should be kept in a tightly sealed glass jar away from light.
Health Benefits of Mint
It is carminative, stimulative, stomachic, diaphoretic and antispasmodic. Peppermint has the highest concentrations of menthol, while preparations of spearmint are often given to children. It is a general pick-me-up, good for colds, flu and fevers. Herbalists tell us it helps digestion, rheumatism, hiccups, stings, ear aches, flatulence and for throat and sinus ailments. There are also claims that a glass of creme de menthe helps with motion sickness.
French: menthe verte
German: Grune Minze
Italian: menta verde Spanish: menta verde
Greek: dhiozmos, menda
Indian: podina, pudeena, pudina
Lao: pak hom ho
Malay: daun kesom
French: menthe anglaise, menthe poivrée
Italian: menta peprina
Spanish: menta peperita