Peppermint: tea, growing.

Date: Mon, 28 Aug 1995 18:55:58 -1000
From: Martha, PC Consultants <twheeler.MAUI.NET>
Subject: Re: peppermint tea questions

>I have been using 7-8 small peppermint leaves from my perrpermint plant to make a tea with 8 oz boiling water. It tastes better than the Mint Medley tea I usually drink. My question is: should I dry the peppermint leaves first? I have been using fresh off the plant leaves- is there any problem with using the fresh leaves?

WHENEVER possible, for teas it is usually best to use fresh herbs as opposed to dry. Herbs are generally dried for ease of distrubution/storage only, not for any special effects it has on an herb (I am speaking in general terms for the most part). Peppermint is a very benign groovy herb that can't possibly hurt you in any way. You can make your tea as strong/weak as you like. It's my totally favorite tea. It's wonderful for the stomach, and I tend towards bellyaches, so I drink it all the time. My favorite from my garden is peppermint/spearmint/lemon balm. I fill up a quart jar w/as much as I cut, pour boiling water on it, let steep 15-20 min, get about 3-4 cups. Yum yum!

From: PC Consultants <twheeler.MAUI.NET>

>Thanks-now I can drink my peppermint tea without worry-It grows all over my garden, hard to control it, glad to know I can drink it fresh. I will look around for the seeds for the lemon you mentioned, sounds like a good combo.

Hope you know you can NEVER control these mints! Have you also tried useing peppermints in things like tabbouleh and all sorts of other salads? (Last night I made a sauce w/yogurt/cilantro/onions/peppermint. Yum!)

If you only want a little mint, maybe try digging it out NOW and replanting some in a hanging basket do you only get just enough. I drink the tea every day, so I want a lot, but it is VERY invasive, so be careful.

Lemon balm (melissa officinalis) is also in the mint family, but it's not as invasive and tastes wonderful and is good for your tummy too.

When you make tea with mints, you can put the whole stem in, you don't have to be careful.

From: Michael Bailes <adamtfg.OZEMAIL.COM.AU>

>how/where does one get the plants or seeds for the mint? i have looked but have not found any.

Don't grow mint from seed it is mostly very variable in flavour. Go to a nursery and taste and smell till you find a nice one that has been vegetativly propagated from selected stock.

From: Conrad Richter <conrad.RICHTERS.COM>

> >Keep in mind that true peppermint (M. piperita vulgaris) is sterile, and does not produce seeds. Quite often, different mints are sold by seed as "peppermint". True peppermint can only be propagated by vegetative methods (cuttings). So if you want peppermint, buy a plant from a reputable garden center, or take a cutting from one that you know for sure is peppermint.
> Peppermint will grow freom seed but is variable.

I am afraid that this last statement is not correct. What is offered for sale as "peppermint" seed is, in fact, an inferior type of spearmint, Mentha spicata. The usual strain offered has a strong "menthol" flavour, so it may resemble peppermint in odour; but the vegetative and floral characteristics all point to M. spicata.

The first comment is correct -- true peppermint is a sterile hybrid and unless someone goes through the trouble of crosspollinating the putative parent species, you won't get true peppermint seed.

From: Conrad Richter <conrad.RICHTERS.COM>

> Peppermint does grow from seed- I have done it - but the question is why would you want too?

Are the flowers in dense spikes and leaves petioled? Or, are the spikes interrupted and leaves sessile or nearly so? The "menthol" strains of Mentha spicata that are commonly sold as "peppermint" are definitely sessile and would yield viable seed. They have fooled countless people both in the horticultural industry and the consumer market. I still see these rogue "peppermint" plants at otherwise respectable nurseries throughout North America.

The true peppermint strains are sterile hybrids between M. aquatica and M. spicata. Even if someone had the time and energy to crosspollinate the parents the viability of the seeds would probably be quite low and in any case selective breeding would be required to get something resembling the type variety.

(... and then there's the menthol-rich species of Mentha arvensis ... --Henriette)