A parent of peppermint and one of the oldest mints cultivated, spearmint is used to flavor all types of foods, such as jellies, jams, candies, sauces, desserts and fruit dishes. It is also used to flavor and fragrance toothpaste, mouthwash, lozenges and chewing gum. Spearmint makes a refreshing herbal tea and is delicious iced or hot.
Spearmint is an herbaceous rhizomatous (forms lateral stems on top of the ground that “creep” to form subsequent plants) perennial plant 30-100 cm tall. It features bright green, sharply pointed, toothed, lance-shaped leaves and flowers in slender, terminal spikes, pink or white, from June-August. The plant should be harvested just before or right as flowers open, as the aromatic components diminish once flowering has ceased.
Commercial product is entirely cultivated from vegetative cuttings due to the high degree of inconsistency in plants grown from seed. Mentha species readily hybridize thus causing offspring that aren’t true to the parent. The commercial product is always rich in carvone and related compounds. Essential oil content ranges from 0.8%-2.5% with the quantity and composition varying considerably according to its origin.
Constituents of Significance: 50% carvone. Menthol should be absent; its presence is indicative of adulteration with other Mentha species, M. x piperita in particular.
Did you know: The name ‘spear’ mint derives from the pointed leaf tips.
Rosy Mint Iced Tea
Orange slices, lemon slices and edible flowers make lovely garnishes for this iced tea. A cinnamon stick swizzle also adds a nice touch to this perky beverage.
2 tablespoons Spearmint Leaves
1 tablespoon Peppermint Leaves
1 tablespoon Rosehips
1 quart boiling water
1 teaspoon honey, or to taste
1. Pour boiling water over herbs. Steep 5 minutes, or until desired strength (or make a sun tea by steeping herbs in water in the sun). Strain and sweeten, if desired. Cool to room temperature, then serve over ice.
2. Refrigerate leftover tea.
Hibiscus Blend Tea
4 cups water
4 teaspoons Hibiscus Flowers
1 teaspoon Spearmint Leaves
1 Vanilla Bean
3 Whole Cloves
1 Cinnamon Sticks
Directions: Boil water and pour over remaining ingredients. Steep for 10 minutes, then strain.
Chef Suggestions: Sweeten with honey and serve hot or iced.