Botanical name: Mentha × piperita
Native origin: Europe
Part Used In Our Teas: Leaves
A stalky herb that grows up to 3 feet high and has serrated leaves with light pink flowers, peppermint’s herbal value lies in a high concentration of menthol and other components in the oil of peppermint leaves. Menthol gives a simultaneous cooling and warming sensation. Along with its peppery good taste, it is traditionally used in herbal medicine for everything from soothing irritated stomachs to alleviating digestive discomfort.
Did you know? Peppermint is nature’s love child—the naturally occurring hybrid of watermint (Mentha aquatica) and spearmint (Mentha spicata). Its flowers are 99% sterile so new plants must be created by dividing peppermint plants or through careful breeding. In fact, peppermint seeds sold commercially almost always turn out to be spearmint seeds.
Our organic peppermint is cultivated under ideal conditions in the Pacific Northwest high desert region of North America, where its volatile oil content is optimized by long hours of late summer sunlight.
The story of mint can be traced back to Ancient Greece and beyond. In Greek Mythology, Minthe was a river nymph who caught the wandering eye of Hades. She tried to seduce him but was caught by Hades’ wife Persephone. Beautiful but unlucky Minthe paid dearly for this attempted indiscretion; Persephone, not one to forgive and forget, turned her into a lowly plant as punishment. Hades, taking pity on Minthe, softened the spell and gave her a rich, peppery fragrance so that people walking on her would smell her sweetness—not much consolation to poor Minthe, but good for those of us mint lovers.
Finding a flowering mint plant on Midsummer’s Day is thought bring life-long happiness, according to English folklore. In medieval times, mint was scattered over the floors of churches and houses to purify the air and sweeten the senses—a necessity in a time when hygiene was scarce.
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Our organic peppermint is primarily grown and harvested by our good friends at Trout Lake Farms—our partners for over 30 years, and pioneers in the cultivation of organic medicinal herbs. Trout Lake was one of our very first suppliers, and one of the first producers of organic herbs in the United States. We’ve grown together throughout the years, fostered by a mutual dedication to offering organic, high-quality herbs. The climate where peppermint is grown is critical to producing high amounts of essential oil, which requires long days and hot sun to form. At Trout Lake, our organic peppermint flourishes under the ideal conditions of the Pacific Northwest high desert region, where its oil content is nourished by the rich, loamy soil of the Missoula Floods (at the end of the last ice age) and optimized by long hours of late summer sunlight.
Menthol is the main component of peppermint leaf essential oil, and the source of the characteristic cooling taste—which is one of the easy indicators of quality.
These pretty little spears of light look like little fireflies caught by a burlap cloth – but they’re really needle-like menthol crystals, which can be seen only under polarized light.
Our peppermint is sourced, tested and processed to make sure it has a high enough concentration of peppermint oil to work properly. We ensure pharmacopoeial quality by purchasing peppermint leaf that has essential oil content much higher than the European Pharmacopoeia’s minimum standard.
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