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Plant focus: mint, a user’s guide

mint

Delicious, refreshing mint is one of the most used herbs in the world and an ingredient in a whole host of culinary preparations such as the renowned mint tea.

 

What is it?

 

Everyone has seen and tasted mint, as it grows everywhere with ease from our grandparents’ garden to little apartment balconies. Mint is also found in many foods we enjoy on a daily basis, and we all have our favorites. But despite this familiarity, do we really know it that well? Mint is an herbaceous perennial plant from the Lamiaceae family. There are several dozen different species, four of which are grown for sale – spearmint, peppermint, lemon balm, and wild mint. We use their leaves, of course, but also the essential oil extracted from them.

 

A closer look at spearmint

 

Also known as garden mint and lamb mint, spearmint is intensely fragrant and greatly appreciated in cooking. But let’s look even closer at one particular spearmint cultivar known as Nana mint. Why, you ask? Because this is the variety used to make mint tea in North Africa, symbolizing the full hospitality of these warm, welcoming countries! Nana mint’s bold flavors make it the ideal ingredient for this beverage. However, it is also used in tabbouleh, green sauces, soups, vegetable and fruit salads, and even ice creams and candies!

 

Mint’s little secrets

 

Did you know…?

 

Secret n°1: According to legend, the Greek god of the Underworld, Hades, fell in love with a nymph named Minthe. But at the time he was married to Persephone… Green with jealousy, his wife transformed her rival into a plant before trampling her. Hades then gifted her with a fragrance, and she became the mint we know today.

Secret n°2: From iced spearmint to peppermint, mint has always been used to describe various nuances of the color green, especially in fashion and interior design. But in reality, this is little more than a poetic detail, as none of these greens resemble that of the herb itself. Mint’s shades also vary vastly according to the plant’s age.

Secret n°3: Moroccans make mint tea by adding simmering water to green tea and mint leaves. They then fill a glass, pour it back into the tea pot, and repeat three times. Only then will they serve the tea, by pouring it into a glass from a great height. This technique is used to oxygenate the tea. As a result, the oxygen molecules bring out the mint’s full aromas and intensify the taste of the beverage.

 

Have we got your mouth watering? What will you make with mint leaves next? A salad, an herbal tea, lemonade, or perhaps a cocktail?