‘Tis the season to be merry and enjoy the magic of mint. Slowly sip a fragrant mint latte, savor a candy cane, or indulge in a delicious piece of peppermint bark. Mint may seem like a modern holiday treat, but it’s culinary use and medicinal benefits date back to ancient times. Scientifically known as “mentha” in Latin and referenced as “minthe” in Greek mythology, mint has been used for centuries as a digestion aid, a flavorful herb for cooking, and an additive for bathing and cleansing items. Most of us use mint daily when brushing our teeth or chewing gum, but variations of the mint species are also used in hard candies, cakes, cookies, chocolates, popular cocktails, herbal teas, and nutritional supplements.
Many variations are commercially cultivated for both aromatic and medicinal purposes. For example, peppermint (Menthe piperita) can be cultivated as a cross between spearmint and water mint. Other mint types include Scotch mint, apple mint, orange mint, pineapple mint, and many more. Nearly calorie-free, you will find trace amounts of vitamins C and A as well as several minerals in most mint species. Grocery stores and health food stores often carry a selection of mint teas, which boast invigorating scents and may help ease digestion and relieve bloating. The fresh taste and potential digestive benefits make mint tea a perfect after-dinner drink for the holiday season and for enjoying throughout the New Year.
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