Mint is a fascinating herb. There are many varieties of it, and each has its own special fragrance and use. To help you decide which types of mint to grow and eat, we’ve put together this handy guide.
What is Mint?
Mint is a herb that can be used in many different culinary dishes. Its essential oil is also used for homeopathic treatments.
Hailing from the Labiatae family, there are several mint varieties as well as many other hybrid plants. Mint plants are usually 1 foot tall, but can sometimes grow to be 4 feet tall.
Are all types of mint edible?
While most popular types of mint are edible, there are some that are purely ornamental. Because there are so many species of mint, it’s best to ask an expert to make sure you have an edible plant.
Popular Types of Mint
Horsemint – Mentha Longifolia Var. Astica
Horsemint is also referred to as lemon beebalm and prefers to be left alone in dry soil or even clay. There are tufty flower heads that grow along the stems that can grow to be 2 feet tall.
As an added bonus, horsemint is deer-resistant.
Because of the lemon flavor, horsemint works well to flavor chicken or fish. It’s also good to be used in desserts.
Banana Mint – Mentha arvensis ‘Banana’
Yes, you read that right. Banana mint does indeed smell like bananas. If you love the combination of mint and banana, you’re in luck as this is a plant that is easy to grow.
Banana mint is largely used in baked goods, such as cookies and muffins.
Chocolate Mint – Mentha × Piperita ‘Chocolate Mint’
As its name suggests, chocolate mint is perfect when paired with chocolate.
This plant has yellow-green leaves and square stems. If you don’t keep control of it, it will quickly spread throughout your garden.
Chocolate mint is the perfect garnish. It goes well with chocolate drinks and you can even make a chocolate tea with it.
Catmint – Nepeta Cataria
At first glance, you might think this type of mint is called catnip. In actuality, it is much different.
Catmint has grey-green leaves and blue flowers, and grows well in the sun or partial shade. If your backyard is prone to insects, you will want to plant plenty of catmint as it naturally repels bugs.
Water Mint – Mentha Aquatica
Water mint gets its name because it grows near water. You can find it by lakes and rivers and it thrives in wet conditions.
You will often see water mint with its stems spread out over the water and it acts as an agent against soil erosion.
Water mint is a natural antibacterial element. If you have a cut, you can actually press crushed water mint over it to ward off infection.
Ginger Mint – Mentha x gracilis
To arrive at ginger mint, spearmint and corn mint were crossbred. The result is a lighter mint taste.
Ginger mint grows best in full or partial sun, in soil with a higher clay content. It also grows quite nicely indoors.
Ginger mint has a subtle spearmint fragrance. It works well in meat and fish marinades, or in drinks like lemonade.
Eau De Cologne Mint – Mentha x Piperita Citrata
Eau De Cologne mint is sometimes called lemon mint, because of its scent. It is a natural hybrid of water mint and spearmint and grows quite tall and bushy.
It bares its name because it was the original inspiration for cologne.
PepperMint – Mentha × Piperita
Although peppermint-flavored snacks exist all over, this plant is a bit finicky to grow on your own. It needs both full sun and moist soil, which can be a tricky combination to provide for.
Peppermint is a great natural remedy for stomach issues but it should be administered in small doses.
If you have a cold, you can actually rub peppermint leaves on your wrists and chest. The natural oil will penetrate into your sinuses and help relieve the discomfort.
Apple Mint – Mentha Suaveolens
Apple mint can quickly become the star of your garden, whether you want it to or not. Un-attended, its stems can grow above 2 feet tall and needs to be regularly cut back.
Apple mint is easy to grow and works well if you are growing it from seed. It likes to be near tomatoes and cucumbers.
Use this mint to refresh your glass of water or to lightly flavor a dessert.
Grapefruit Mint – Mentha x Piperita ‘Grapefruit’
Novice gardeners should add grapefruit mint to their little plot of earth. It is very hardy and easy to maintain.
This plant also produces a lot of mint, which is great if you want to use the herb year-round. It is easy to dry and then you can use the dried mint in your cooking, even in the winter.
Common recipes for grapefruit mint include chicken and fish dishes, as well as some desserts.
Spearmint – Mentha Spicata
Spearmint is one of the most popular mints and can be found in a lot of backyard gardens. It likes partial shade and can grow to be 1 to 2 feet tall, with lavender flowers appearing in summer.
Spearmint is great for all manner of cooking. You can use it to liven up a curry dish or to freshen up a drink.
This variety of mint is also commonly used to fragrance soaps and shampoos as it gives you a fresh scent to wake up to.
Lavender Mint – Mentha Piperita ‘Lavendula’
For those just discovering their green thumb, lavender mint is a safe bet. It practically grows on its own.
Lavender mint is distinguished by its deep green leaves that grow on red stems. As a bonus, it is resistant to drought.
You can use lavender mint to fragrance potpourri and even shampoo. It is also great to cook with and pairs well with strawberries and pastas.
What is the best type of mint?
There really is no best type of mint. If you are new to growing herbs, then the best one for you may be lavender mint. If you are always suffering from a cold, then peppermint may be the best.
Mint is a versatile herb. It can be used to marinade meat, flavor water, and even used as an ingredient in ice cream. There are many flavors of mint to choose from for all your minty needs.