Peppermint vs Spearmint Tea - Key Differences Explained (2021)

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Last Updated on October 7, 2021

Spearmint Vs Peppermint Tea: In-Depth Comparison

With holiday season fast approaching, grocery stores will soon be filled with tasty treats like mint chocolate, candy canes, and peppermint bark- yum! But if you’re anything like me, you love to enjoy mint year-round in the form of herbal tea.

Surprisingly, while they seem similar, there are key differences between peppermint tea and spearmint tea. The nutritional content, taste, practical applications, leaf shape, and benefits differ in important ways.

Let’s dive into what these are, so you can decide whether peppermint tea or spearmint tea is a better fit for you and your health goals.

Spearmint Vs Peppermint Tea at a Glance

Spearmint Tea Advantages:

  • Sweet and fresh taste
  • Caffeine-free
  • Health benefits like respiration and circulation
  • Can add to savory dishes

Spearmint Tea Disadvantages:

  • Some people prefer the stronger menthol taste of peppermint
  • Lower menthol content

Peppermint Tea Advantages:

  • Strong menthol taste
  • Caffeine-free
  • Health benefits like soothing and reducing inflammation
  • Can add to desserts

Peppermint Tea Disadvantages:

  • Some people prefer the lighter taste of spearmint
  • Can worsen heartburn symptoms

Winner: Don’t want to read the full article? The editor’s choice is both. Both are great low-calorie, zero-caffeine options that can freshen and energize. Both have different health benefits that could make either a better fit depending on your goals.

What’s the Difference Between Them?

So when it comes to tea, what are the important differences between peppermint and spearmint?

Peppermint tea has a stronger, more peppery taste than spearmint, and its high menthol content means it has a sharp cooling sensation on your tongue. Spearmint tea offers a sweeter, lighter flavor, and makes a delicious iced tea. Both can be either dried in a teabag, or fresh leaves.

Both peppermint tea and spearmint tea are caffeine free and are a great healthy beverage for any time of day. Due to their powerful digestive support, they are an excellent tea choice after a large meal.

Classification

Let’s take a look at how peppermint and spearmint are classified. Mint tea is a general term that can refer to peppermint tea, spearmint tea, or other mints like Moroccan or Field mint tea.

Mint is the English term for “Mentha”, which is actually a genus of closely-related herbs, not a singular plant species. The Mentha genus is made up of hundreds of different species of herbs. However, spearmint and peppermint are the two most commonly used.

Both of these plants grow in large bushes and can grow up to a meter tall with spear-shaped leaves and square stems. However, spearmint stems are aptly named for their more spear-like shape. Both leaves have ‘hair’, although spearmint has slightly more than peppermint, and both of their leaves grow in pairs.

These leaves grow opposite from each other, creating a pretty criss-cross shape when viewed from above. Spearmint has green stems with a slight purple hue, and peppermint stems are purple.

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Nutrition and Practical Applications

Peppermint contains high levels of menthol- 40%- whereas spearmint only contains .05 percent menthol. Menthol is what gives peppermint its sharp cooling flavor, but spearmint owes its taste to carvone, which is sweeter and less cooling.

Thanks to its higher menthol content, peppermint is naturally cooling and can actually lower your mouth and skin temperature (if used topically). This cooling quality makes it a natural fit for medicinal purposes.

These include:

  • Soothing tired muscles
  • Protecting mucous membranes
  • Offers excellent digestive relief and support, including relief from Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms [1]
  • Easing sore throats, stuffy nose, and coughs
  • Reducing inflammation and pain
  • Improving immune function
  • Killing mouth bacteria
  • Reduces bloating
  • Fighting migraines
  • Relieving cramps
  • Calming nerves
  • Fighting bad breath
  • Treating upset stomach

However, one thing to note is peppermint tea may worsen heartburn symptoms. Likewise, if you have silent reflux/laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR), peppermint tea may relax your sphincter, you may want to skip it.

Spearmint has medicinal applications as well.

Spearmint is great for:

  • Respiratory health
  • Circulation
  • Easing nausea
  • Improving low blood sugar
  • Hormone balancing
  • Reducing androgen levels [2]
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Arthritis pain
  • Stress reduction
  • Relieving hiccups
  • Fighting bacterial infections
  • Memory and cognition [3]
  • Repelling mosquitos, surprisingly!

Both peppermint tea and spearmint tea may help with weight loss; hot, soothing, low-calorie beverages fill your stomach and hydrate you, causing you to feel more full and eat less overall.

Aside from tea, peppermint is great for baking into desserts, whereas spearmint’s milder flavor makes it great for savory dishes.

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Nutrition Content:

Peppermint tea contains a higher content of Vitamin A and C than spearmint tea. However, spearmint tea contains twice the iron content.

Additionally, peppermint contains nearly double the calories of spearmint. However, when consumed as a tea, the calories are negligible and are nothing to be concerned about.

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Brewing Peppermint and Spearmint Tea

brewing peppermint tea

Brewing fresh peppermint tea and spearmint tea couldn’t be simpler. All it takes is:

1. Boil two cups of water
2. Prepare 15-20 fresh mint leaves; we recommend crushing them to bruise them and release more of the oils and flavor from the leaves
3. Allow the mint leaves to steep in the water for 15-20 minutes
4. Strain the leaves from the water
5. If desired, add a teaspoon of honey or your sweetener of choice. Fresh lemon or ginger is also a tasty addition.
6. Enjoy!

To brew dried peppermint tea and spearmint tea, simply add boiling water to the teabag and allow it to steep for 4-6 minutes. There is no harm in letting it steep longer- it won’t turn bitter like black teas.

You have to try this recipe for a spearmint iced tea:

1. Boil two cups of water
2. Prepare 15-20 fresh spearmint leaves, crushing to release more flavor
3. Steep the spearmint leaves for 15-20 minutes
4. Strain the leaves from the water
5. Add your favorite sweetener of choice- we love local honey or agave nectar. Fresh lemon or ginger is also a tasty addition.
6. Chill for 2 hours and serve over ice cubes with a reusable straw.
7. Enjoy!

Conclusion

Whichever tea you choose, it’s hard to go wrong with either peppermint or spearmint tea. Both are tasty, healthy beverages that are perfect for any time of year. So next time you’re enjoying your cup of peppermint or spearmint tea, think of all of the wonderful health benefits! Check out our recommendations for top peppermint teas here.

Resource list:

1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16767798/
2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19585478/
3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0271531718308431

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