By Dr Joseph Mercola
Mint (genus Mentha) plants are perennials known for their fragrant, toothed leaves with purple, pink or white flowers (depending on the species). Furthermore, they are regarded for their fruity, aromatic taste. According to Encyclopaedia Britannica, there are 25 species belonging to the mint family (Lamiaceae). They are native to Eurasia, North America, South African and Australia, but they have become naturalised in many other places around the world.
One mint plant much-loved around the world is spearmint (Mentha spicata), which can grow up to a height of 12 to 24 inches. Spearmint is distinguished by its bright, green leaves that are pointed, along with spiky lavender flowers that reach up to 4 inches in length. This particular species is known for being the source of spearmint tea, a type of herbal tea enjoyed around the world.
What Is Spearmint Tea?
Spearmint tea is essentially a drink made by brewing fresh leaves of the spearmint plant in boiling water. This contrasts to other types of tea, which are mainly prepared using dried leaves that are steeped in a bag.
The reason for this is because spearmint tastes best when used fresh. The plant is also known for its sweet taste that is slightly weaker than peppermint.
Aside from tea, spearmint makes an appearance in a variety of foods, mainly soups, salads, meats, fish and other beverages. Extracts from the plant are used to flavour a diverse range of products, such as toothpastes, jellies and sweets.
Studies Regarding the Potential Benefits of Spearmint Tea
Drinking tea is one of the most popular pastimes around the world and is noted for bringing a variety benefits to your health. In the context of spearmint tea, it may help:
|Boost Your Immune System
According to a study published in Flavour and Fragrance Journal, spearmint tea has been found to have antimicrobial properties that may work against a wide variety of pathogenic fungi and bacteria.
In a study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, researchers discovered that drinking spearmint tea may help manage inflammation. The experiment involved 62 randomised participants who were given high-rosmarinic acid spearmint tea twice a day for 16 weeks. By the end of the study, the participants noted that they had reduced pain scores.
|Benefit Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Symptoms
Spearmint tea has been demonstrated to have anti-androgen effects against polycystic ovarian syndrome, which helped improve hirsutism (unwanted male-pattern hair growth). Participants in a study were given the drink twice a day for a month and results indicated that it helped reduce androgen hormones, follicular hair growth and cell turnover time.
The anti-inflammatory compounds of spearmint tea may help calm your stomach if you’re experiencing digestive issues that result in nausea. Drinking spearmint tea may also help relieve cramping, bloating and other unpleasant gastrointestinal issues.
The limonene in spearmint tea may help increase neurotransmitter activity, which may result in improved memory and concentration. Drinking a cup before focusing on a task can help you maximise this effect.
Nutrition Facts and Caffeine Content of Spearmint Tea
Spearmint does not belong to the Camellia sinensis family of tea plants, thus making it a caffeine-free herb. However, drinking spearmint tea can still pick up your energy, as spearmint can have a stimulating effect on your nervous system.
Spearmint tea contains active compounds that work together to benefit your health. The most notable examples include limonene and mint L-Carvone, as well as flavonoids and menthol, albeit in smaller amounts compared to peppermint tea. These compounds produce the sweet flavour spearmint is known for.
How to Make and Store Your Own Spearmint Tea at Home
Making great spearmint tea starts with the plant itself. Having a fresh supply of spearmint leaves allows you to have great-tasting tea each and every time you make a cup. To start, ensure that you have a dedicated plot in your garden for growing spearmint. Mint plants are notorious for spreading so easily that they can become a weed if not controlled right away.
Check that your soil is well-draining, rich and moist with partial shade. Sow seeds once the ground has warmed in the Spring, and keep them moist until they germinate. Afterward, thin plants to 1 foot apart.
Little maintenance is needed when growing spearmint plants. But as mentioned earlier, they do grow rapidly, so be prepared to thin them down as they grow. Watering should be done regularly, but allow the soil to go almost dry in between turns. Harvesting the leaves can be done as soon as they appear in Spring.
To determine the strength you want for your tea, remember the younger leaves have more flavour than older ones. Storing leaves isn’t really needed for spearmint tea, as you can pick them as needed only. But if you do want to collect some, cut leaves before the flowers bloom and store them in an airtight container. Once you have fresh spearmint leaves, follow this procedure to make your own tea:
SPEARMINT TEA RECIPE
2 cups of filtered water
15 fresh spearmint leaves
Raw honey to taste (optional)
Lemon slices or lemon juice (optional)
Ice cubes (optional)
Bring the water to a boil. Remove the pot from the heat and add the leaves. Steep for three to five minutes, depending on the desired strength. Add honey or lemon juice to suit your taste. Serve the tea in mugs if you prefer it hot. If you want your tea cold, use tall glasses and add ice cubes. Add the lemon slices if desired.
Potential Side Effects of Drinking Spearmint Tea
Spearmint tea is likely safe for most people when taken in moderate amounts. However, pregnant women are advised to consume it in moderation because excessive amounts may damage the uterus. Breastfeeding women should stay on the safe side and minimise consumption as well. Furthermore, consuming too much spearmint tea may induce kidney damage. For those who have kidney disorders, your symptoms may worsen if consumption is not monitored. Those who have liver problems may also experience the same effects, so caution is advised when drinking spearmint tea.
Drinking Spearmint Tea Regularly May Benefit Your Health
Based on published data, spearmint tea may have a positive effect on your overall wellbeing, as long as it’s reasonably consumed. Aside from managing inflammation, it may even strengthen your immune system and relieve stomach problems. Best of all, growing your own spearmint plant is easy, allowing you access to fresh spearmint leaves throughout the year. Just be sure to control your intake if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
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