Spearmint vs Peppermint: All About Mint

Mint is an incredibly versatile herb bursting with flavor and smelling absolutely delectable. But there are different kinds. This is where the spearmint vs peppermint debate comes up.

Whether you want to grow mint indoors or sprinkle it around your garden, mint is a cinch to cultivate pretty much year-round.

Confusion often crops up between spearmint and peppermint, though. Today we will make things easy for you when it comes to spearmint vs peppermint by looking at eight key ways in which these herbs differ from each other.

Never confuse the two types of mint again!

Spearmint vs Peppermint: A Snapshot

Spearmint vs Peppermint: Peppermint

 

spearmint

Peppermint is actually a hybrid of spearmint and water mint. These two mints rolled into one mean that peppermint has an extremely high content of menthol.

Due to the vitamins and nutrients it contains, peppermint has long been used for medicinal purposes. From runny noses and sore throats through to strained muscles, this handy herb has many uses. It can also be used as part of aromatherapy to reduce stress and tension.

Aside from the ubiquitous chewing gum, peppermint crops up in tea, ice cream and after-dinner mints. You’ll also find peppermint oil in a number of liqueurs where the subtle taste works wonders.

A combination of the appetizing scent and its cooling properties mean that peppermint is also a firm favorite for soaps, shampoos or body washes. It’s a staple for toothpaste and mouthwash too.

Spearmint vs Peppermint: Health Benefits of Peppermint

Peppermint is often called the oldest medicine in the world and it has a wide array of proven medicinal benefits.

  • Dental Health: Whether it’s kissing goodbye to bad breath or general dental hygiene you’re after, the antiseptic properties of peppermint oil work wonders
  • Indigestion: A couple of drops of peppermint oil in some water is a wonderful way to aid digestion after eating. In some cases, it can help with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Headaches and Nausea: Popping some diluted peppermint oil on your forehead can assist with getting rid of nausea or motion sickness. Where it is both anti-inflammatory and cooling, peppermint oil can relieve headaches, even migraines
  • Stress: Stimulating your mental activity, calming and refreshing, peppermint is a natural way to  combat stress
  • Breathing: With its menthol content, peppermint is an efficient expectorant that also clears the respiratory tract. It’s present in many cold balms and rubs
  • Nail Care: Peppermint oil can help to ward off fungal nail infection
  • Pain Relief: External use of peppermint oil can help to soothe certain pains. Its cooling nature means it can reduce fever. It’s termed a refrigerant for the intensely cold sensation it provides
  • Immune System: Peppermint oil is commonly used to help people with weak immune systems. Its antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties and content of menthol, camphor and carvacrol means peppermint is popular in many alternative treatments to fight against lowered immune system

Spearmint vs Peppermint: Spearmint

peppermint vs spearmint

Spearmint is a highly aromatic herb that appears naturally.

The chief use for peppermint is culinary. As with peppermint, it’s also a common ingredient in chewing gum and toothpaste.

With a sweet and mild taste, spearmint is used widely in many medicines. Due to its relaxing effect, spearmint can also help you to relax and enjoy a good night’s sleep.

Spearmint vs Peppermint: Health Benefits of Spearmint

As well as sharing the ability to help with digestion and respiratory issues, spearmint has several other key health benefits including the following…

  • Antibacterial: Menthol, along with other compounds found in spearmint, is antimicrobial and antibacterial. It not only keeps your breath fresh but can also help protect you from mouth and throat infections
  • Hormonal Balance: Spearmint can help manage this condition. The compounds in spearmint work with the endocrine system to optimize balance of hormones
  • Circulation: With one serving of spearmint you hit your RDA of iron. This helps with the blood circulating to your extremities, enhances your energy levels and helps with the healing of wounds
  • Heart: Spearmint is rich in potassium. As a vasodilator, potassium helps to stave off strokes and heart attacks

Spearmint vs Peppermint: How Do They Differ?

spearmint vs peppermint

Spearmint vs Peppermint: Species and Botanical Name

In this spearmint vs mint comparison we must specify that first that both mints are from different species. Spearmint is from the species Spicata while peppermint is Piperita.

Their specific botanical names reflect this, Metha Spicata (spearmint) and Mentha x piperita (peppermint).

Spearmint vs Peppermint: Plant Facts

As mentioned, spearmint is a plant that occurs naturally whereas peppermint is a cross between species of spearmint and water mint.

The low and creeping peppermint is a real contrast with the straight and upright spearmint.

The way in which the herbs grow is also a point of difference. Spearmint will shoot up to around 3 feet in height. It will spread its way profusely and completely around the surrounding vegetation. Peppermint grows anywhere from 1 to 3 feet high. It does not spread widely, though.

Spearmint vs Peppermint: Flower

While spearmint plants have pink or blue flowers, peppermint plants are crowned with purple blooms.

Spearmint vs Peppermint: Leaves

Spearmint plants have small leaves that grow on the branches themselves. The little leaves are slightly wrinkled.

The peppermint boasts slightly larger leaves. These grow on the stems rather than the branches. These leaves are jagged in appearance.

Spearmint vs Peppermint: Menthol and Cooling Properties

It might surprise some people to know that spearmint does not contain menthol at all. It gets its cooling ability from carvone.

Peppermint, on the other hand, has plenty of menthol. This is where it derives its cooling properties from.

Spearmint vs Peppermint: Flavor

Spearmint has a far more delicate smell and taste than peppermint. It’s mild and somewhat sweet.

Peppermint tastes sharp and cooling while the aroma is much more intense.

Spearmint vs Peppermint: Uses

The ways in which spearmint and peppermint are used is another area where they are quite different.

Spearmint

  • Tea
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Many therapeutic uses
  • Cocktails (mojito, mint julep)

Peppermint

  • Decongestants
  • Antiseptics
  • Scented oils
  • Medicinal and therapeutic properties
  • Candles

Dessert Ingredients You Can Grow

Desserts add such great joy to our lives, especially for those of us with a sweet tooth. But what if we told you that you can grow ingredients used in a dessert in your own backyard? Your garden can help with that sweet tooth! There are so many natural sweet ingredients you can grow from fruit to herbs to flowers, just like spearmint and peppermint (and the spearmint vs peppermint debate we just had) You can’t eat all the herbs safely, so it is important to take care of the few you can!

Roses

Roses are fun to grow, beautiful to look at, and delicious to eat. You can use red rose petals to make homemade rose water or you can give desserts a subtle floral flavor and a pink color. If you’re a baker, you can use roses to decorate your cakes. The way to grow roses is very simple really. You don’t begin with a seed but instead, buy a fully grown rose bush and put a banana peel into the bottom of the soil as a fertilizer. Instead of watering the petals and leaves, water the ground.

Lavender

This herb is a beautiful purple as well as so tasty.  Lavender has a very specific floral taste as well as mint and rosemary. It is a flavor that yells spring, which is ironic, seeing as it does best when planted in the spring. When paired with honey and lemon, it is golden. But even more so, lavender is the all-star baking herb. You can use it in everything from cookies, cakes, brownies.

It tastes great with chocolate. but it is also great when turned into lavender sugar because then it can be used in any baking recipe. From ice cream to jelly, to biscuits and other baked goods. All in all, lavender is as beautiful on the outside as it is delicious. It is commonly used as decoration on dessert, so if you are an aesthetic baker, get this herb in your garden!

Lemons

Everyone loves a fresh lemon. They are perfect acidic wise and that makes them great for homemade sorbets or lemon curd. Lemons are best grown in a 12-inch wide container. You will be amazed at the fragrant flowers that begin to bloom! They are a winter plant, which means lemon pound cake can be had when the family gathers for Christmas dinner. Lemons do not give an instant return, though, so be patient. The lemon yield is only a few lemons the first season but it doubles the next year. Lemons are good for so much more than lemonade!

Thyme

This herb has a strange but delicious flavor. It is spicy with a hint of mint, which makes it great when used in tart drinks and desserts. While it is tart, it ironically also has a neutralizing power. It brings out the sweetness in ingredients that are overtaken by other flavors. Thyme is delicious when put in fruits, such as baking apple slices with thyme sprinkled on the top. It works great in a tomato pie, as it brings out the sweetness in tomatoes. Strawberry-thyme jam is another excellent option. And it can be added to all kinds of tarts.

Strawberries

Strawberries are a delicious summer good. If you purchase and plant small strawberry plants, they will no doubt quickly start producing fruit early in summer. Try types like alpine that will not take over your garden bed because of how much they grow and their leafiness. A good tip is to use straw or pine needles as mulch. The reason for this is to keep the strawberries off the soil.

Strawberries are an incredibly versatile fruit and they are VERY popular among many people. As a summer treat, they can be eaten outright. You can use them in berry cobblers, in salads, in mixed drinks, in strawberry shortcake, cheesecake, and on pound cake. You can just put a whole pile of whipping cream on the top and that is delicious enough. Smoothies, cheesecake, sandwiches, it is really endless how far a strawberry garden venture can go!

Basil

There is no herb quite like basil. Just the smell of it can make me smile with possibility. It has a mild pepper-like flavor with hints of mint and clove. Not only is it delicious on a number of incredible health benefits. Fresh basil contains every vitamin in the alphabet, as well as iron, potassium, magnesium, and calcium. Basil is dissolvable and can travel to all areas of the skin, which is the reason it is so great for relieving all types of pain and sickness. Fresh basil straight from the garden can boost your immunity, help you to be less stressed (brings down cortisol levels), can prevent diabetes, and even fights cancer, as well as pain and fever. It does so much more than even these if you can imagine it.

Like many of our other herb options, basil can go in a dessert or on meat. It is versatile in that way, where it can add flavor to just about anything.  Basil can go into cookies, custards, yogurt, and plenty of other summer desserts. It is also great in mixed drinks. Eat basil for both your health and the enjoyment of your taste buds!

Violet

Violet, our final dessert ingredient you can grow, gives off a powerful floral fragrance and that is paired with sweetness. It is an ingredient often times seen in perfumes, because of how delicious it smells. You may not also know that it is one of nature’s greatest culinary assets. This is an incredibly famous edible flower and it is often used for decorating all types of cakes and other desserts.

Violet is a great ingredient to use in cooking and baking of all kinds. Anything you want to sweeten, violet is your herb. It also can be used in drinks to zest them up. It has a type of syrupy flavor. You can create jellies, puddings, and cupcakes using this herb as the main ingredient. The flowers themselves, without having to grind them up, are great for salads.

Final Thoughts on Spearmint vs Mint

We hope you’ve enjoyed this examination of spearmint vs peppermint and are now clear on the differences between these two distinct types of mint.

Please drop us a line if you’d like any further information on this or any other aspect of gardening.

You’re always welcome to share our articles on social media if you find anything you think your friends would like – this in depth guide to strawberries, for example.

Come back soon as our site is updated with fresh content several times a week.

Dianne T. Lampe
 

Hi there, I’m Dianne! Welcome to a one-stop shop for your gardening needs. We aim here to offer up a very wide range of information about many aspects of gardening. From flowers and planting through to vegetables and accessories, find all the information you need here. We have a true passion for everything green. We’re highly motivated to develop this site continuously and offer any insights we can alongside useful facts and handy hints. Please get in touch and let us know what you would like us to cover. Thoughts and feedback are always welcomed. Enjoy!

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