Herbal teas, commonly known as herbal infusions or tisanes, were brewed and enjoyed in ancient Egypt and ancient China. Made by steeping edible plant parts in hot water, they are regarded for their taste and caffeine-free nature. They are also believed to be beneficial in supporting a healthy body.
The plant parts used to make this beverage include herbs, spices, fresh or dried flowers, seeds, stems, fruit, bark, and roots. Due to this range of ingredients, the number of possible tisanes that can be brewed is almost limitless. One classic herbal infusion, mint tea, is made with mint leaves. The different species of this herb, which are native across the globe, have been used for centuries both medicinally and for culinary purposes.
There are 25 recorded species belonging to the mint family. These different species, which belong to the genus Mentha, are native to Europe, Asia, North America, South Africa, and Australia. Some popular species include peppermint, spearmint, field mint, and water mint.
This perennial plant thrives in wet conditions with moist soil. The highly aromatic leaves have square stems. Mint, which is a flowering herb, produces oblong-shaped leaves. Although the most common leaf color is green, some species also produce leaves that are grayish-green, purple, blue, and light yellow.
The herb spreads by horizontally growing stems that lay on the ground. These special stems, which produce roots and other vertical branches, are known as stolons. When mature, the plant can reach up to 48 inches tall and spread indefinitely. For this reason, some species are invasive.
Mint has a few origin stories that can be explored when looking into Greek mythology. One of the more popular versions involves love, lust, and jealousy.
The ancient Greek religion talks of a nymph named Minthe, also known as Menthe. She was an Underworld nymph who presided over the river Cocytus. The god of the dead, Hades, took a special interest in her. As the myth goes, upon learning that her husband had a lover, Persephone turned the nymph into what has become known as the mint plant.
Brewing Mint Tea
Whether enjoying this beverage hot or as an iced thirst-quencher, mint tea is easy to brew. In fact, just a few steps and minimal accessories are needed to make this tasty herbal infusion at home.
Before you start brewing, you will need to gather 2 cups of water, 15 mint leaves, a pot to boil the water, and a mug to drink from.
- Bring your water to a boil (spring water or filtered water are recommended for the best-tasting results).
- Once the water reaches the correct temperature, remove the pot from the stove and add the mint leaves. Allow the leaves to steep for 3 to 5 minutes. (The longer the leaves are left in, the stronger the brew will be.)
- When the time is up, pour the brew (and the leaves) into your mug. At this time, you can add sweeteners or other additives. If you don’t want any extras, you can enjoy the tisane as is.
As with the hot brew, you will need 2 cups of water and 15 mint leaves. The difference is, after the leaves have been steeped in the hot water, you pour the tea into a glass that has been filled with ice. The ice will quickly cool down the beverage, leaving you with a refreshing cup of iced mint tea. As with the hot mug of tea, sweeteners or other additives can be used to enhance the flavor.
Additives & Sweeteners
On its own, mint has a strong aroma and a refreshing taste. If you are looking to jazz it up a bit, there are many options that can be added to the tisane. Some of these additives include:
- Brown sugar
- Fresh apple slices
- Fresh berries
- Hibiscus flowers
Appearance, Aroma, & Taste
When brewed, mint tea is a very pale golden color and has a strong, fresh, and cool minty smell. It has also been described as having a slightly sweet and minty flavor. It is important to follow brewing instructions, however, as the tisane can taste bitter if the leaves are left to steep for longer than 10 minutes.
Nutritional Content & Caffeine
One serving of mint tea has zero calories, fats, proteins, carbs, and sugars. Like other herbal teas, it’s also caffeine-free. Be aware that including additives in your mint tea can change the nutritional content.
Although there is not sufficient evidence to support such claims, many people who practice herbalism or rely on traditional medicine regard mint as highly beneficial. It is often suggested that mint tea can help relieve digestive issues, headaches, bad breath, sinus congestion, fatigue, menstrual cramps, and insomnia.
Moroccan Mint Tea
On its own, mint tea has such a classic and simple taste. For those who are more adventurous, it can be enjoyed in different varieties. One of the more popular options is Moroccan mint tea.
This brew is a mixture of strong green tea, such as Chinese gunpowder tea, and spearmint leaves. Unlike mint tea, this variety is caffeinated. Traditionally, this tea is known for being sweet, with a strong minty aroma and sugary flavor.
Mint is an herb that can be found growing wild in many parts of the world. Of the 25 known species, only a handful are used for medicinal use and culinary purposes. Many of these species are invasive, as they grow horizontally across the ground and will continue to do so unless met with some sort of resistance or barrier.
The highly aromatic leaves of this herb are used when making mint tea. Whether you are enjoying a hot cup of tisane or an iced thirst-quencher, the cool and strong flavor is refreshing. Mint tea is also easy to brew at home and highly customizable. If you are a tea enthusiast, this tisane provides a wonderful baseline for experimenting with different ingredients. Similarly, if you love the taste of mint, this herbal infusion is definitely for you.