I wrote recently about how peppermint tea was one of my favourite things at the moment – the happy result of purchasing a peppermint plant in the spring and my experimenting with what to replace my previous coffee addiction with.
I through a handful of leaves (preferably the newer ones as these seem to give the best taste) into a teapot, leave it to sit or a few minutes and then pour – using a tea strainer. So simple. I love the smell of the tea and the light taste – so much better than store bought teas I’ve tried.
As the weather changes, I have just set my hand to drying some leaves (putting them in bunches of about five – ten as I read they don’t do well bigger than that) and hanging them upside down in a cool dry place so that I can then use them in the winter until the plant comes back into it’s own in the spring. I’ll let you know how it goes.
BUT it’s not the only thing peppermint is good for. In fact, as I’ve been discovering, it’s a pretty versatile plant, one that is incredibly easy to grow so perfect for a novice gardener like me, and someone who would like to live a little more naturally – hence the making my own tea.
The only warning I would give is that when I say easy to grow I should maybe say doesn’t stop growing so if you decide to follow my lead, make sure you use pots or risk there being nothing in your garden but mind (which, pretty and as useful as it is, you probably won’t want).
So, what else can you use peppermint for? Well, to stick with the tea for a line or too longer, you can use it to aid digestion or help a poorly stomach. Just make it a little stronger than you might normally (so it goes from light green to a darker, almost golden brown, colour). You can drink it straight away or add ice and sip during the day (it’s also pretty good chilled I’m discovering with lemon and honey, just making it a little “softer”).
It also tastes good in hot chocolate (not surprisingly perhaps as I’m sure it’s a flavour at Starbucks every Christmas). Rather than using artificial flavourings though, I have been putting a handful of leaves in the milk as I heat it – as with tea, the smaller / newer leaves seem to give the strongest flavour – then strain it before drinking. Yummy and perfect in my part of the world where the nights are drawing in and the weather is getting colder.
Moving away from drinks, peppermint is good for your breathing and for headaches. You can use peppermint essential oil for this, putting it on your pulse points for headaches, or a few drops on your pillow if you are lying in bed with a cold. I haven’t tried (and probably never will) to make oil but I did recently use a cold compress on a headache, with the mint leaves steeped in the water, and it seemed to help. I’ve yet to have a cold to try that but I can see it working.
Peppermint oil is also good for any number of things, including muscle pain / joint relief by adding a few drops to a carrier oil (there are plenty of recipes for this online) and one I really like the sound of because I am often more than a little sleepy on a morning – adding a few drops (again) into your shampoo to make your scalp tingle and revive you – in fact, peppermint is supposedly energiser no matter how you use it.
What it doesn’t energise is insects – well not all insects. Instead, it’s a natural insect repellent for the ones you want to stay away (say mosquitos) but a real draw for insects you might want to see (bees and butterflies). To repel insects, keep plants in your garden or burn essential oil on the evening whilst you’re sat outside. To attract insects, let some of your plants flower…which also makes your garden a little bit prettier.
I didn’t know that this year but next year, I will definitely be letting some of my plants flower, adding colour and life to my garden.
And on that floral note I will sign off. Hopefully, leaving you a little more enlightened or inspired (including telling me what you have used peppermint for).
Note: images courtesy of Pixabay