Mint is an absolute classic in the herb bed. We present the best and most aromatic types of mint and show what makes them different from each other. Everyone knows the peppermint. But have you ever heard of pineapple mint or chocolate mint? The genus of mint ( Mentha ) comprises around 30 species and is therefore extremely diverse. So why not try a new type of mint in your own garden or on the windowsill? We give you an overview of the most exciting species.
The best types and varieties of mint
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Mints belong to the mint family ( Lamiaceae ) and are popular in herb beds, fragrant beds, or in pots on balconies, windowsills, or patios. This is no wonder because mints not only smell wonderful, they can also be creatively processed in the kitchen. The healing effect of mint has long been known and is said to help against gastrointestinal complaints, colds, headaches, and muscle aches, for example.
In a verse by Walahfrid Strabo from the 9th century it is said that if one wanted to name the many species and names of mint, he would have to list as many as there are fish in the sea. Although there are not quite that many, the mint genus is extensive and new varieties are always being bred.
The following is an overview of the classics of mint: mints, which are particularly suitable for tea, mints, which are mainly found in the wild, and more exotic types of mint with special flavors.
Classic types of mint
You have probably heard of the following five types of mint. You can’t really go wrong with them – but it is certainly worthwhile to find out more about these well-tried species. Did you know, for example, that pennyroyal is poisonous?
Peppermint ( Mentha x piperita )
Peppermint is the classic among the mint varieties and is often found in gardens and on balconies. However, it is unclear where this type of mint originally comes from. What is certain is that it is a cross between the brook mint ( Mentha aquatica ) and the green mint ( Mentha spicata ). It is valued above all for its high menthol content and its peppery-spicy aroma. In cultivation, it is undemanding, perennial, and hardy.
Spearmint ( Mentha spicata )
Even if the name is not that common, spearmint is arguably the most commonly used of the mint varieties. It is also called Krause Mint or Spear Mint (in English “spearmint”). It is this type of mint that gives toothpaste, chewing gum, or sweets the minty taste. It originally comes from the USA but is now also widespread in large parts of Asia and Africa. This type of mint is very vigorous and grows rampant. It can grow up to 130 centimeters high. Spearmint blooms in white and purple from July to September.
Water mint or brook mint ( Mentha aquatica )
Both the names water mint and brook mint refer to the same type of mint: Mentha aquatica. It originates from Europe and can be found today in large parts of Africa and Europe. As the name suggests, this mint feels good in damp conditions. That is why they are mainly found in the wild on banks, ditches, moors, or wet meadows. The peculiarity of the seeds of this type of mint is that they only spread over the water. It grows up to 90 centimeters high and is suitable for planting pond edges in the garden.
Pennyroyal ( Mentha pulegium )
This type of mint can grow 10 to 50 centimeters high and has delicate purple flowers from May to September. The pennyroyal looks very similar to the peppermint. However, caution is advised as the pennyroyal is poisonous. The only difference between pennyroyal and peppermint are the flowers: the two mints are the same in the length of the stamens and in the throat. In the past, pennyroyal was still used as a remedy, but today it is not used due to its toxicity. The pennyroyal should not be picked as it is under nature protection and classified as endangered on the Red List. In the garden, it is well suited for the fragrance bed.
Mojito Mint ( Mentha nemorosa )
Mojito Mint is also called Hemingway mint or cocktail mint. The reason is obvious: The aromatic herb is often used to mix refreshing cocktails and drinks such as Mojito or Hugo. It was probably the result of a cross between Mentha spicata and Mentha suaveolens . It is between 40 and 80 centimeters high and is very vigorous. In summer from the beginning of July to the end of August it also flowers light purple and attracts numerous insects.
Tea mint varieties
The next four types of mint have a long tradition in countries where tea drinking plays an important role. So it’s no wonder that these mints are all particularly good for making tea.
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Moroccan Mint ( Mentha spicata var. crispa Morocco )
The Moroccan mint comes from North Africa. As the name suggests, it is particularly valued in Morocco and drunk as a tea with a lot of sugar. But it is not only the cooling, refreshing taste that makes this type of mint so popular, but also its compact growth and easy care. It is between 30 and 60 centimeters high, the leaves are lanceolate and jagged at the edges. The flowers of the Moroccan mint are delicate purple.
Nanaminze ( Mentha spicata var.crispa ‘Nane’)
The name Nanaminze can actually refer to three types of mint: The species Mentha spicata var. crispa ‘Nane’ or Mentha x Piperita var. Piperita ‘Nana’ – and the Moroccan mint described above is sometimes called nano mint. The actual nano mint, however, is Mentha spicata var. Crispa ‘Nane’.
Often the nano mint is also known as Turkish mint. Because there and in North Africa it is often drunk in combination with black tea and sugar. In these regions, it is also often used to season oriental dishes. It can grow up to 90 centimeters high, is perennial and hardy. The flowers of the Turkish mint are white pink and appear from July.
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English mint ( Mentha × Piperita ‘Mitcham’)
The English mint is an old cultivated form from England from the Mitcham area. It is probably a coincidental cross between a garden mint and the wild water mint ( Mentha aquatica ). This type of mint is characterized by its intense taste with a lot of spicinesses. It is therefore used for tea, soups, and desserts. The leaves of the English mint are green and tinge to red. The plants reach heights of up to 80 centimeters, are persistent and vigorous.
Apple mint or round-leaved mint ( Mentha suaveolens )
Apple mint is also called round-leaved mint. This is due to their specially shaped leaves: these are oval. It’s called apple mint because its leaves actually smell and taste like apples. Because of its mild aroma, apple mint is particularly suitable for teas. Nowadays apple mint is widespread in large parts of China, Turkey, North Africa, and Central Europe. The apple mint can grow up to 100 centimeters high. It blooms lilac in summer. It also loves it wet and can therefore often be found on wet meadows, wet roadsides or at ditches.
The following mints can all still be discovered wild in the field or along the way. Nevertheless, they can of course also be planted and cultivated in the garden or in pots.
Field mint (Mentha arvensis )
Field mint is also called corn mint and is a wild type of mint. It is common in all temperate regions in the northern hemisphere. The plant usually grows 5 to 30 centimeters tall and flowers pink to purple in color. It prefers moist and nutrient-rich locations and is less willing to grow than its cultivated siblings.
Horse mint (Mentha longifolia )
The horsemint is also called forest mint and occurs from the temperate zones of Eurasia to southern Africa. In Central Europe, they are often found in low mountain ranges and in the lower elevations of the Alps. It needs wet, nitrogen-rich soil to grow well. That is why they are often found near rivers or next to agricultural land. The horse mint grows up to 130 centimeters and bears pink to purple flowers between July and September.
Corsican mint ( Mentha requienii )
Corsican mint is also called tender mint and can only be found on three islands in the Mediterranean: on Corsica, of course, but also on Sardinia and Montecristo. The special thing about this type of mint is that it does not grow upright, but rather like a carpet. It forms lawns and gives off an intense, pungent odor. The crème de menthe liqueur is made from this mint. Due to its Mediterranean origin, the Corsican mint is not hardy and therefore needs protection in the cold season.
Mint varieties with a special aroma
The following seven types of mint all have one thing in common: They not only smell and taste like mint but also have another, very special aroma.
Lemon mint (Mentha gentilis var.citrata )
Another mint that got its name because of its aroma is lemon mint. Their leaves give off an intense citrus odor. It is therefore ideal for teas, lemonades, desserts, or cocktails. Lemon mint can grow up to 40 centimeters high, is perennial and hardy.
Pineapple Mint ( Mentha suaveolens variegata )
The leaves of the pineapple mint actually exude a slight pineapple aroma. It is therefore particularly suitable for desserts, bowls, or cocktails. The leaves are also special about this type of mint: they are variegated green and cream-colored. Thus, the pineapple mint is a real eye-catcher in the bed or pot. However, it is not completely hardy and should therefore be overwintered indoors. It is also not as vigorous as other types of mint and is no more than 40 centimeters high.
Orange mint ( Mentha piperita var.citrata ‘Orangina’)
The orange mint also exudes an intense, fruity aroma that is reminiscent of bergamot or earl gray. It is, therefore, suitable for cooking, for example with sauces or vegetables. Orange mints grow 50 to 80 centimeters high and almost as wide. They bloom purple from July to September. They are very vigorous and spread quickly in the garden.
Chocolate mint (Mentha x piperita var.piperita ‘Chocolate’)
Those who like mint chocolate or after eight will love this type of mint. It combines mint and chocolate aromas in one plant. However, the aroma is very fine, not so intense, and is perceived differently by everyone. For one, the chocolate mint may smell and taste intensely of chocolate, another may not even notice the smell. Chocolate mint plants reach heights of 40 to 60 centimeters and bloom light purple from July to September.
Basil mint (Mentha × piperita var.citrata ‘Basil’)
Another mint with a special aroma is the basil mint. The taste is very reminiscent of basil, the smell of Italian dishes. Italian is also the name Bastardo, as basil mint is also called. The scent and taste of the leaves are still very minty and also slightly peppery. This mint is wonderfully suitable for salads, sauces, and pestos. Basil mint grows to 45 to 60 centimeters high and up to a meter wide.
Strawberry Mint ( Mentha species ‘Strawberry’)
Another rarity among the mints: the strawberry mint. This actually tastes hardly of mint at all, but – you guessed it – of strawberries. It can be used well in the kitchen for teas, lemonades or cocktails. Strawberry mint plants grow to a height of only 50 centimeters and bloom pink.
Banana mint (Mentha arvensis ‘Banana’)
A variation of the field mint (Mentha arvensis ) is the banana mint. This was grown in France and the leaves actually give off an intense smell of bananas. You can experiment with the herb in the kitchen and use it for desserts or drinks. The plants of this species are small, reach a height of no more than 50 centimeters, and do not spread excessively.
Similarities between the different types of mint
Even if there are over 30 types of mint with different properties and flavors, the different types have a lot in common: first of all, their appearance. Of course, the individual species and varieties differ in appearance, but many mints look very similar. So you don’t have to be an expert to spot a member of the mint genus. Determining the respective species is a lot more difficult. Almost all types of mint are also very vigorous and spread – mostly unintentionally – very quickly. What almost all mints have in common is that they are perennial plants. In addition, most (with a few exceptions) are hardy. All types of mint are also easy to care for and easy to grow so that everyone can cultivate mint. The mints are also very similar in terms of location requirements: Almost all of them appreciate a partially shaded place with fresh, moist soil. Last but not least, all mints contain essential oils that give them their special aroma.
What do the different types of mint have in common?
- Willing to grow
- Perennial and hardy
- Easy care
- Location requirements: partially shaded; fresh, moist soil
- Essential oils
Now that you’ve decided on one or more varieties of mint to grow yourself, here are 10 helpful tips for growing mint.