What Is Mint Tea?
Mint tea is a traditional tea that’s celebrated in many cultures. In Moroccan culture, the tea is steeped with mint and green tea leaves, and sugar, and commonly served at all times of day.
On the North American continent, early Native Americans made a tea from wild mint leaves in order to relieve an upset stomach.
Ancient civilizations like the Greeks and Egyptians used peppermint as medicine. Chewing peppermint leaves is a Persian folk remedy for toothaches. In India, herbal mixtures containing peppermint treat indigestion, coughs, colds, and other ailments.
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. You can serve it cold or hot.
By itself, mint tea does not contain caffeine, but some mixed mint teas may contain caffeine from other ingredients.
Mint, Peppermint, or Spearmint?
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.
Is Mint Tea Good for You?
There is some limited evidence that mint tea may help with some symptoms:
Stomach and digestion: Peppermint tea may 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. But peppermint can also be an irritant, so it should not be used if you have gastroesophageal reflux disease, also known as GERD.
Cold and flu: Some people report that mint tea relieves cold and flu symptoms. The aroma from peppermint seems to help open nasal passages. Menthol has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that may also help relieve these symptoms.
Mint leaves contain vitamin C, antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, and other vitamins and minerals. But 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.
Mint Tea: Possible Side Effects
The menthol in peppermint can cause adverse side effects in large amounts. While it’s difficult to consume too much menthol by drinking peppermint tea, it’s not recommended for people with certain health conditions.
Before adding peppermint tea to your diet, talk to your doctor about these considerations:
Peppermint can help with digestion and stomach pain but can worsen acid reflux. If you have experience indigestion due to gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, you should avoid peppermint.
Peppermint may interact with certain medications. It should not be taken with cyclosporine, a drug taken by organ transplant patients. It may also reduce the effect of medications metabolized in the liver or drugs that reduce stomach acid.
Some studies show that peppermint may lower your blood sugar and blood pressure as well, so it’s not recommended for people taking medication for diabetes or blood pressure issues.
Peppermint may help to promote good kidney function, but it’s not recommended for people who have kidney stones.
Research has not found any harmful effects from pregnant women drinking peppermint tea. This But this has not been well-studied, however, so speak to your doctor before drinking the herbal beverage while pregnant.
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 5 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.