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.
Mint is a popular ingredient in several foods and beverages, ranging from teas and alcoholic drinks to sauces, salads and desserts.
While eating the plant offers some health benefits, research shows that several of mint’s health benefits come from applying it to the skin, inhaling its aroma or taking it as a capsule.
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:
Rich in Nutrients
While not typically consumed in large quantities, mint does contain a fair amount of nutrients.
In fact, just under 1/3 cup or half an ounce (14 grams) of spearmint contains:
- Calories: 6
- Fiber: 1 gram
- Vitamin A: 12% of the RDI
- Iron: 9% of the RDI
- Manganese: 8% of the RDI
- Folate: 4% of the RDI
Because of its dynamic flavor, mint is often added to recipes in small amounts, so consuming even 1/3 cup may be difficult. However, it’s possible you may come close to this amount in some salad recipes that include mint among the other ingredients.
Mint is a particularly good source of vitamin A, a fat-soluble vitamin that is critical for eye health and night vision
It is also a potent source of antioxidants, especially when compared to other herbs and spices. Antioxidants help protect your body from oxidative stress, a type of damage to cells caused by free radicals.
Comfort for Stomach ProblemsPeppermint 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.
May Help Relieve Indigestion
Several studies have shown that peppermint oil can speed up how quickly food moves through the stomach, relieving digestive symptoms associated with indigestion.
Mint may also be effective at relieving other digestive problems such as upset stomach and indigestion.
Indigestion may occur when food sits in the stomach for too long before passing into the rest of the digestive tract.
Multiple studies have shown that food passes through the stomach quicker when people take peppermint oil with meals, which could relieve symptoms from this type of indigestion
Multiple studies have shown that food passes through the stomach quicker when people take peppermint oil with meals, which could relieve symptoms from this type of indigestion.
A clinical study in people with indigestion showed that a combination of peppermint oil and caraway oil taken in capsules had effects similar to medications used to treat indigestion. This helped improve stomach pain and other digestive symptoms.
Similar to IBS, studies highlighting mint’s ability to relieve indigestion used peppermint oil rather than fresh or dried leaves.
May Mask Bad Breath
Breath mints and chewing gum can mask foul smells for a couple hours but aren’t an optimal long-term solution for bad breath. Peppermint tea and chewing on mint leaves may be more beneficial in reducing bacteria that cause bad breath.
Mint-flavored chewing gum and breath mints are some of the first things people reach for when trying to prevent or get rid of bad breath.
Experts agree that most of these products can mask foul-smelling breath for a few hours. However, they only cover up bad breath and don’t reduce the bacteria or other compounds causing bad breath in the first place.
On the other hand, drinking peppermint tea and chewing on fresh leaves may be able to both mask bad breath and kill bacteria, as test-tube studies have highlighted the antibacterial effects of peppermint oil
Subjectively Improves Cold Symptoms
Although menthol does not function as a nasal decongestant, it can provide some relief to cold and flu symptoms by subjectively improving breathing through the nose.
Many over-the-counter cold and flu treatments contain menthol, a primary compound in peppermint oil.
Many people believe menthol is an effective nasal decongestant that can get rid of congestion and improve airflow and breathing.
However, multiple studies show that menthol has no decongestant function. That being said, research also shows that menthol can subjectively improve nasal breathing.
This means that although menthol doesn’t work as a decongestant, it can make people feel like they are breathing through their nose easier.
This is likely to provide at least some relief to those affected by a cold or the flu.
May Decrease Breastfeeding Pain
Applying mint essential oils in various forms appears to be effective in preventing and treating nipple cracks and pain typically associated with breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding mothers commonly experience sore and cracked nipples, which can make breastfeeding painful and difficult.
Studies have shown that applying mint to the skin can help relieve pain associated with breastfeeding.
In these studies, breastfeeding mothers applied various forms of mint to the area around the nipple after each feeding. Typically, they used an essential oil on its own or mixed with gel or water.
One study showed that applying peppermint water after breastfeeding was more effective than applying expressed breast milk in preventing nipple and areola cracks, which resulted in less nipple pain.
Another study similarly showed that only 3.8% of mothers who applied a peppermint gel experienced nipple cracks, compared to 6.9% of those who used lanolin and 22.6% of those who used a placebo.
Furthermore, an additional study showed that both the pain and severity of nipple cracks decreased in mothers who applied menthol essential oil after each feeding.
Could Improve Brain Function
Some studies show that smelling the aroma of peppermint oil may improve memory and alertness, while other studies show no effect. More research is needed to further understand the effects of mint on brain function.
In addition to ingesting mint, there are claims that inhaling the aroma of essential oils from the plant could provide health benefits, including improved brain function.
One study including 144 young adults demonstrated that smelling the aroma of peppermint oil for five minutes prior to testing produced significant improvements in memory.
Another study found that smelling these oils while driving increased alertness and decreased levels of frustration, anxiety and fatigue.
However, not all studies agree that peppermint oil could benefit brain function. One study found that although the aroma of the oil was invigorating and led to less fatigue, it had no effect on brain function (13).
More research is needed to help understand how it may work and investigate whether peppermint does, in fact, improve brain function.
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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 are a tender herb with gentle stems. It is best to add them raw or at the end of the cooking process. This helps them maintain their delicate flavor and texture.
When buying mint, look for bright, unblemished leaves. Store them in a reusable plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Mint is relatively easy to grow, and people can cultivate it at home, making it a sustainable way to add flavor to meals.
When preparing mint, use a sharp knife and cut gently. Using a dull knife or over-chopping will bruise the herb and lead to a loss of flavor on the cutting board surface.
Middle Eastern cuisines, such as lamb, soups, and vegetable salads often contain mint for flavor.
Other ideas include:
Making a mint limeade by mixing lime juice with sugar or stevia and muddled mint leaves. Top it off with filtered water and ice cubes.
Incorporating mint into a fresh fruit salsa with chopped apples, pear, lemon or lime juice, jalapeno, and honey. Serve with cinnamon pita chips or on top of baked chicken.
- Jazzing up your water by adding mint leaves and cucumber for a refreshing treat.
- Adding a few chopped mint leaves to your next chocolate chip cookie dough.
- Pouring hot water over mint leaves and steeping for 5-6 minutes for homemade mint tea. Try using chocolate mint leaves for a twist.
- Chopping mint and tossing with fresh pineapple for a quick snack.
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.
The Bottom Line
Mint makes a delicious and healthy addition to many foods and beverages.
Although mint is easy to add to many dishes, research demonstrating its health benefits has mainly used mint taken in capsules, applied to the skin or inhaled via aromatherapy.
Mint’s health benefits range from improving brain function and digestive symptoms to relieving breastfeeding pain, cold symptoms and even bad breath.
You really can’t go wrong adding some mint to your diet.