Mint is known to have originated in Asia and the Mediterranean region. In many cultures, mint symbolised hospitality and was offered as a sign of welcome and friendship to guests as they arrived. In the Middle East mint tea is still served to guests on their arrival, whilst in ancient Greece, the leaves of mint were rubbed onto the dining table, which was a sign of their warm greeting.
Mint was also often used as an air freshener and was placed in the rooms of houses, synagogues and temples to clear and freshen the air and rid the smell of unpleasant odours from the room. The Greeks and the Romans used mint as a perfume and a bath scent, as well as using it in medicine and in cooking.
Mint was so revered by the ancient Greeks that they named the plant after the mythical character Minthe. According to Greek myth, Minthe or Menthe as she is also known, was a river nymph. Hades, the God of the Underworld, fell in love with Minthe and wanted to make her his lover. However, Persephone, Hades's wife found out and in a fit of rage turned Minthe into a plant, so that everyone would walk all over her and trample her. Unable to undo the spell, Hades gave Minthe a wonderful aroma so that he could smell her and be near her when people trod on her.
There are many other types of mint including, applemint, water mint, horsemint, pineapple mint, orange mint, pennyroyal and spearmint. Pennyroyal is toxic if taken internally, causing severe liver damage, but it can be rubbed onto the skin to repel insects and prevent them from biting.
Apart from peppermint, spearmint is probably the most widely used species of mint. It is not as strong as peppermint in flavour and is therefore used in cooking and added to sauces, dressings, cakes and can be added as a garnish to dishes.
What gives mint its medicinal punch is menthol, an antiseptic, antifungal and anesthetic constituent of its volatile oil. Most commonly prescribed as a tincture, tea, oil or syrup, mint is effective in treating nausea, flatulence, indigestion and menstrual cramps. It's good as a topical remedy too, and as a compress it can relieve minor skin rashes
MINT SYRUP FOR INDIGESTION
The volatile oil in mint is a stomach soother and gas reducer, making it useful in cases of indigestion. Place 2 oz of leaves in 4 cups of water; cover. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Cool, and then strain the tea. Over low heat, reduce this liquid to one cup. Add 2 cups of honey, and then simmer - stirring constantly - until a syrup forms. Mix 1 tbsp. of syrup in 1 cup of water and drink after meals for relief. Store the syrup in a bottle in the refridgerator.
MINT TEA IS TRULY A TREAT.
Especially popular in Morocco, mint tea is a refreshing drink, hot or cold. Pour 1 cup of boiling water over a few tbsp. of the mint. Steep for several minutes; then strain. Serve immediately or put it in the refridgerator to cool. You can also add some thinly sliced lemon and sugar or clear honey.
To relieve morning sickness or calm a nervous stomach, sip a soothing tea blend made with mint and chamomile. Pour 1 cup of boiling water over 3 heaping tsp. of finely chopped equal parts of each herb. Steep for 10-15 minutes., and then strain.
Sautee for 2 minutes; 2 tbsp. butter and 1/2 cup onion. Add 2 cups peas, 3 tbsp. chopped fresh mint, 1 tbsp. sugar, 1 tbsp. lemon juice, and simmer for 8 minutes.