Mint is a herb belonging to a genus of strong-scented plants of the labiatae family. There are at least 25 species and most of them are cultivated for the aromatic oil which they secrete. Its natural habitat is most probably the Mediterranean and Western Asia, but it now grows in most temperate and sub-tropical regions of the world.
It is said that mint was brought to Britain by the Romans who called the herb mentha after a mythological naiad who was crushed underfoot by Proser-pina, goddess of spring, in a fit of jealous rage. She immediately became a plant which smells sweeter the more it is crushed.
The best known species of mint are: Spearmint This mint is one of the most commonly grown in home gardens. It is used to flavour meat and savoury dishes, salads, drinks and sauces. The distilled oil is also used to flavour sweets and toothpaste. Peppermint This mint is used in herbal teas but is cultivated more especially for its essential oil which is used to flavour liqueurs, sweets and toothpaste. It is also used as an ingredient in remedies for indigestion. Applemint
This mint has a delicate flavour and is most often used to flavour fruit compotes.
Bergamint or orange mint Also known as eau de cologne mint and lavender mint, this mint is used to flavour icecream, fruit sauces and drinks.