Mint tea is a traditional tea that’s celebrated in many cultures, including Morocco. Consisting of mint, green tea leaves, and sugar, mint tea can be enjoyed at all times of the day and is commonly served to guests in Moroccan culture.
On the North American continent, early native Americans made a tea from wild mint leaves in order to relieve an upset stomach.
Mint tea can be prepared using spearmint, peppermint, or orange mint leaves. It shouldn’t steep for more than 10 minutes, or it could start to develop a bitter taste.
By itself, mint tea does not contain caffeine, but some mixed mint teas may contain caffeine from other ingredients that are included. Iced mint tea provides cool refreshment during the hot summer months, and hot mint tea can offer comfort and relief in the cold winter months.
Health Benefits of Mint Tea
Mint tea can contain both peppermint and spearmint leaves, which can be combined in varying proportions depending on your personal preference. Spearmint and peppermint have flavors that are very different from each other, and they both offer health benefits.
Spearmint contains a compound known as carvone, giving it a mild flavor that’s sweet and cool. Carvone is also found in caraway seeds and dill.
Peppermint, on the other hand, is loaded with menthol and menthone, giving it a sharp, spicy flavor.
Mint tea offers the following health benefits:
Comfort for Stomach Problems
Peppermint can relieve an upset stomach, and in some cases it has been seen to relieve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It does this by causing the muscles of the stomach to relax and by improving the flow of bile, helping food digest and pass through the stomach more quickly. However, peppermint can also be an irritant, so it should not be used if you have gastroesophageal reflux disease, also known as GERD.
Relief from Cold and Flu Symptoms
Mint tea is a common remedy for relief from cold and flu symptoms. The aroma from peppermint tea has a unique ability to open nasal passages. Menthol has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that may also contribute to the relief of these symptoms. Some studies have observed that menthol has anti-viral properties, but it’s not suggested that menthol is able to cure a flu or a common cold.
Other Possible Benefits
Mint tea may provide other benefits, but this belief is based on the benefits of peppermint oil and has not been studied completely. In most cases, these benefits are achieved by applying peppermint oil topically. Studies have not determined if drinking mint tea brings the same results. Some of these possible benefits include:
- Antiviral and antibacterial properties
- Relief from tension headaches
- Relief from muscular soreness and menstrual pain
Mint leaves contain vitamin C, antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, and other vitamins and minerals. However, the amount of these found in a cup of tea is very low, because many of them are removed when these leaves are prepared into a tea.
How to Prepare Mint Tea
There are many commercially available mint teas, sold in tea bags or loose leaf, for you to choose from. Many are mixes that contain peppermint, green tea, and spearmint. Green tea contains caffeine, so if you are avoiding caffeine, look for an herbal mint tea that does not include green tea.
If you would like a stronger flavor and improved health benefits, you may wish to make your own tea using fresh ingredients. To make mint tea:
- Boil 2 cups of water.
- Remove from heat and add a handful of torn or chopped mint leaves.
- Cover and steep for five minutes.
- Strain and drink.
Experiment with different amounts of peppermint and spearmint leaves. You may find that you prefer one mix for a cooling and refreshing summer drink, and a completely different combination for a warm, comforting winter drink.