Peppermint tea can refer to several different types of tea. Sometimes, it is a combination of black tea and peppermint leaves or peppermint oil, while other forms contain only peppermint, a member of the mint family called Mentha piperita. Occasionally, some mint tea mixes different mints or adds peppermint oil for additional flavor. Alternately, people may make their own tea at home with few sprigs of peppermint leaves and hot water.
Many people find the aroma of peppermint very refreshing. Some believe it is especially comforting during colds, because the mint aroma and hot water can temporarily relieve stuffy noses. There are other medicinal reasons that people may use peppermint tea, though they have not been clinically tested, for the most part.
In herbal medicine, it is believed that peppermint may promote relaxation and aid stomach upset. Some people use it to treat the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and it does have some properties as a muscle relaxant. It’s commonly thought these properties may help relax muscles in the intestine and create greater stomach comfort. Additional, yet unproven, benefits of the tea include its potential to dissolve gallstones.
Despite the fact that it may help reduce gas, or calm diarrhea, peppermint tea isn’t necessarily good for all digestive tract ills. People with chronic heartburn or ulcers may irritate these conditions if they drink the tea. This can be further complicated when people use peppermint essential oil in capsules.
With the exception of potential heartburn, few people have trouble with this tea and there are no known interactions with other medications. Children can safely drink it. The only thing to avoid is getting peppermint on the face, especially if using the essential oil, because it can irritate skin. When diluted with water in tea, a drop or two on the face is unlikely to cause this problem.
Those who prepare peppermint leaf tea may note that a small amount of oil or residue gathers on top of the water. People who use this tea medicinally say the presence of oil is excellent because it contains the “curative” peppermint properties. To promote greater seepage of the oil from the leaves, it can help to cover the tea when it is steeping.
The alternative to using peppermint tea medicinally is to use it just for its minty taste. The tea can be combined with fruit juices for a fruit/tea experience. Whether or not it is combined with black tea, it makes great sun tea and refreshing iced tea. People may also use it as a base to mix cocoas to create mint hot chocolate.