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Spearmint tea is an herbal tisane made from spearmint, a member of the mint family which has been cultivated for culinary uses for centuries. In addition to being the key ingredient in spearmint tea, spearmint is also used in the mint julep, and oils extracted from this plant are often utilized to flavor various foods and products such as toothpaste. Many stores carry spearmint leaves for the purpose of making tisanes, and people can also grow and harvest their own.
Technically, spearmint tea isn't a tea at all, because it lacks the leaves of Camellia sinensis, the tea plant. It is more properly a tisane, a distillation of leaves, flowers, twigs, roots, or bark from sources other than the tea plant. One of the key distinctions between a tea and a tisane is that tisanes lack caffeine. However, teas and tisanes are prepared in the same way, and many people use the term “tea” to describe tisanes.
People classically use dried spearmint leaves to brew a spearmint tisane. The dried leaves are either steeped in hot water for five to 10 minutes, or heated slowly on the stove in a pan full of water which is brought close to the boiling point without actually being allowed to boil. In both cases, the drink can be brewed to the taste of the person who will be drinking it. Some people like very strong tisanes, while others like a more mild, gentle flavor.
This tisane can be consumed hot or cold. Spearmint tea is often described as refreshing and cleansing in nature, and it is classically consumed plain, without added sweeteners or other ingredients. People may drink it purely for the flavor, but it is also consumed as a digestive aid. Spearmint tea can reduce flatulence, burping, intestinal distress, heartburn, and nausea, and people who drink it regularly may find that their digestion in general is easier. The tea also appears to block the action of androgen in the body, which can make it a natural treatment for hirsutism in women and hair loss in men.
In addition to dried leaves, cooks can also utilize dehydrated leaves, along with fresh and frozen leaves. In the case of dried and dehydrated spearmint, the leaves should be stored in a cool, dry place out of the sunlight, and they should be utilized within six months to get the most of the flavor. Frozen leaves can keep for up to one year, while fresh leaves should ideally be used as soon as they are picked.
Spearmint tea comes from a plant called menthe spicata, which is native to the regions near the Mediterranean. Many people buy spearmint tea for the aroma, rather than to drink it.
There are many health benefits associated with spearmint tea. Anytime anyone in my family gets a sore throat, I whip up some cold tea to provide relief. I also use it for indigestion or nausea.