Table of content A-Z




Spearmint (Mentha spicata); apple mint, round-leaved mint (Mentha suaveolens); peppermint (Mentha piperita)



Es sind etwa 20 Minze-Arten bekannt, die sich wiederum in mehrere hundert Unterarten aufschlüsseln.

Als Gewürz werden in erster Linie Krauseminze und Apfelminze verwendet, wobei sie besonders in England, den USA, im mittleren Osten, in den Balkanländern, Frankreich und Indien genutzt werden.

Approximately 20 species of mint are known, and these can, in turn, be broken down into several hundred sub-species.


Chiefly spearmint and apple mint are used for seasoning, especially in England, the USA, the Middle East, the Balkan states, France and India. Peppermint and spearmint are purely cultivated plants that were probably developed in England and the Mediterranean countries, while apple mint originally stemmed from southern and western Europe.


Mint was used in the ancient world. It is supposed that spearmint was cultivated as early as 2000 b.c. Peppermint has been grown in Germany for only about 200 years.


Apple mint is grown mainly in England, while peppermint is grown worldwide and spearmint is cultivated particularly in the USA, China, India and England.



Apple mint and peppermint are harvested for the first time in June/July, prior to florescence, when their mint-oil content is at its greatest. Spearmint is cut during florescence. Up to September a second or third cutting usually follows.


Mint is a good choice for one's own herb garden. Then the fresh leaves can be picked into autumn.

Spearmint and peppermint are generally sold as dried leaves, but sometimes they can be bought fresh in small pots. Apple mint is not commonly sold in Germany, except potted fresh in health-food stores.


Appearance, taste, characteristics

All mint species are herbaceous perennial shrubs that belong to the Lamiaceae family. The shrubs are hardy but can be used for only 1-3 years.


Species of spearmint and peppermint can grow up to 80 cm tall. The leaves are ovoid to lanceolate and decussate, i.e. each leaf pair is arranged at right angles to the next pair above or below, forming a cross. The apple mint is decidedly smaller at maximally 50 cm; the leaves are also decussate but more ovoid to round.


The leaves grow to a length of 9 cm; they are either hairy or hairless and have toothed edges, or in the case of spearmint, they are wavy and frayed. Spearmint is the type most commonly used for seasoning. During inflorescence from July to September the species mentioned have white, pink or violet blossoms.


The mint species have different aromas and scents: While peppermint smells like menthol, tastes spicy-aromatic and has a cooling effect in the mouth, spearmint smells more strongly and like caraway, and is spicy but not cooling, and apple mint smells fruity like apple or pineapple and tastes aromatic.



The factor determining the smell and taste of mint is the essential oil, which differs according to the variety. Essential oil accounts for between 0.5 and 6% of peppermint and consists mainly of menthol and menthone.


Apple mint contains about 1% essential oil, whereby piperitone oxide preponderates in the cultivated varieties. The content of essential oil in spearmint is 0.5-2%, with the main component usually carvone, but it may also be linalool or menthone depending on the growing area.

Flavonoids and tannins are also components of mint species.


Quality criteria, optimal storage conditions

Like most fresh herbs, mint can be kept for 1-2 days in the refrigerator, protectively wrapped in foil. The dried herb should be stored in an airtight container and as cool, dry and away from light as possible.


Presumed effect on health

Owing to its aromatic flavour, mint stimulates the production of gastric juices and is held to be an appetizer and a digestive.


Peppermint is valued in folk medicine. Tea made from the dried leaves is calming and relieves pain and is a traditional home remedy for gastrointestinal problems. It alleviates stomach cramps, nausea and vomiting.

Peppermint is also used for colds, stomatitis and gallbladder conditions. Preparations that contain peppermint oil are applied to the skin for headache and muscle aches.

Form of consumption, use, processing, practical tips for preparation

Mint leaves can be used fresh or dried. As the varieties have different flavours, their use also differs:

Peppermint, also known as English mint or tea mint, is good for seasoning desserts such as fruit salad, fruit compote, cold fruit soups, yoghurt and other dairy products. In addition, tea brewed with mint leaves is a popular refreshing drink.


Peppermint oil is used industrially to make liqueurs and confectionery, such as sucking candies and chewing gum. Large amounts are also used in cosmetics for toothpaste, mouthwash, after-shave lotion and body-care products.


Fresh spearmint, also known as Roman mint, is frequently used to season hearty dishes. Its fine flavour goes well with potatoes, pulses or legumes, and vegetables, particularly peas, carrots, aubergine/eggplant, tomatoes and zucchini. This mint is also popular with chicken, veal, pork or especially roast lamb, and it enhances marinades, herbal sauces, or soups. Fish dishes and salads can also be seasoned with mint.


In the Arab countries of the eastern Mediterranean the dried leaves are preferred. Dried spearmint is used to flavour stuffed grape leaves, ground meat, lentil and bean soups or vegetable stews.

Apple mint is also called round-leaf mint. It is particularly good for flavouring cold punch, desserts, fruit salads, compote, jellies and cream cheese.


Seasoning tip

Mint should always be used sparingly. It harmonizes sometimes in desserts with basil, while in savoury dishes it goes better with garlic, coriander, chili or parsley. Depending on the dish, mint also goes well with dill, marjoram, oregano, thyme, cloves, cardamom or paprika.




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