What is Mint? Mint is a flowering plant that grows in many areas of the world, its leaves are often prized for their sweet and cooling scent and flavor. Mint leaves are often infused in boiling water to produce a flavorful drink known as a tisane, or are added to tea leaves to produce a flavored tea.
Mint Tisane vs Mint Tea: People often use the term “mint tea” to describe two very different beverages. Many “mint teas” actually have no tea in them at all, but are instead an infusion of mint leaves. In the tea industry, an herbal infusion such as this is more properly called a “tisane”.
On the other hand, true tea (made from the camellia sinensis plant) is often blended with mint to create a refreshing beverage. The best-known mint tea is probably “Moroccan Mint” which is made from blending spearmint (usually) leaves with gunpowder green tea from China.
Why the Distinction is Important: The first reason is an aesthetic one: Mint tisane and mint tea are two very different beverages, each with their own flavor characteristics. The second reason has to do with health: All tea, even “decaf” tea, has caffeine. If a person must avoid caffeine for health reasons, they absolutely need to know whether the beverage they are drinking has caffeine in it.
Types of Mint: While there are several types of mint, the mints that most often end up in a tea or tisane are peppermint and spearmint. Peppermint has a decidedly “sharp” taste, as its name suggests, and works very well in blends that include chocolate flavoring. Spearmint has a smoother, more herbal flavor, and blends well with green tea and lemon flavoring.
Using Mint in Blends: When using mint in your own blends, be careful! Mint does tend to dominate and overwhelm other flavors, so add just a little at a time. Mint is very good in iced tea blends.
Cautions: Some people are allergic to mint, and others may find that it exacerbates symptoms of acid reflux or heartburn. For mint cautions, check out this page on Medline.
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