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Mint is an increasingly common ingredient in several different cocktails, the Mojito and Mint Julep perhaps being the most well known. It is part of the plant family "Lamiaceae", which includes Rosemary, Lavender, Thyme, Hyssop, Marjoram, and Oregano.


Within the plant family "Lamiaceae", Mint is also known as the genus "Mentha", with perhaps 24 known and accepted sub-species[1]. Mint, as one species or another, is a native plant almost throughout the world. It is not native in Central or South America, or in mid Africa but it has been introduced to many of these regionsMentha (Plants of the World)</ref> [2].

The ingredient in mint which provides it's distinctive flavor and aroma is Menthol, which is present in various degrees in all varieties[3].


Spearmint (Mentha spicata) is one of the more common and popular forms of mint, and is popularly used in beverages. The menthol content in spearmint is 0.5%, and it also contains "Carvone" (also found in Caraway and Dill) which has a sweet minty aroma.

There are several sub-cultivars within Spearmint, some of the more popular include:

Kentucky Colonel
sometimes (mis)classified as "Mentha cordifolia", which is simply an alternate (and apparently unaccepted) name for Spearmint.
Apple Mint
Mentha Suaveolens
Banana Mint
Mentha arvensis ‘Banana’
Chocolate Mint
Mentha × Piperita ‘Chocolate Mint’
Mentha Aquatica
Lavender Mint
Mentha × Piperita ‘Lavendula’
Slender Mint
Mentha diemenica [4] This dwarf, frost hearty, mint is native to Tasmania in Australia. It looks different from other mints, but can be used in most situations where common mint is called for.
Egyptian Mint
Mentha Niliaca
Pennyroyal Mint
Mentha Pulegium
Mentha Longifolia (not an acceptable species classification, actually just spicata)
Corsican Mint
Mentha Requieni
Eau de Cologne Mint, Lemon Mint
Mentha x Piperita Citrata (not an acceptable species classification, actually just aquatica)
Strawberry Mint
Mentha Spicata Subsp. Citrata ‘Strawberry’
Grapefruit Mint
Mentha x Piperita ‘Grapefruit’
Mojito Mint
Mentha × villosa

Water mint
Mentha aquatica
Field mint, wild mint
Mentha arvensis
Mentha X gracilis
Mentha X piperita
Mentha requienii
Bigleaf mint, mint
Mentha X rotundifolia
Smith's mint
Mentha X smithiana Graham
bush mint, spearmint
Mentha spicata
bigleaf mint, mint, apple mint
Mentha suaveolens
Mentha X verticillata
hairy mint
Mentha X villosa


Peppermint (Mentha x piperita) is a hybrid variety, being a cross between Spearmint and Water Mint. It's menthol content is 40%, far more than spearmint, which provides a stronger (and some will say overpowering) flavor, making it better for usages where a mint flavor needs to be predominate, but not in situations where it needs to play well with others.

Water Mint

Water Mint (Mentha aquatica) appears to have only one claim to fame, in that it is one-half of the lineage of Peppermint.

Yerba Buena

Yerba Buena, which literally means "Good Herb" in Spanish, is a general term that is applied to different herbs in different locales. Almost exclusively it is used to refer to a variety of mint, whichever one grows commonly and wild in that particular region.

Central America
Eau de Cologne mint, is a true mint and can sometimes be referred to as "bergamot mint". It has a strong citrus-like aroma and has a history of being used medicinally as well as culinary usages.
Mentha X villosa (aka: "Mentha nemorosa", "Mentha alopecuroides", Large apple mint, foxtail mint, hairy mint, woolly mint, Cuban mint, Mojito mint). While mint does not appear to be native to Cuba, at some time in the past it was introduced and took hold, becoming a popular culinary and medicinal ingredient.
Puerto Rico
Satureja viminea (aka: Bush mint, Jamaican Mint Tree).
Mentha Cordifolia (aka: Marsh Mint) [5]
Western United States
Clinopodium douglasii (aka: Satureja douglasii, Micromeria douglasii) is part of the genus Clinopodium, which is loosely related to Mentha, and has a menthol content which allows it to be a "local" substitute for mint in teas and some cooking applications.


  1. Mentha Plants of the World
  2. Mentha (Integrated Taxonomic Information System)
  3. Menthol (Wikipedia)
  4. Mentha diemenica, Wild Mint, Slender Mint (Australian National Herbarium)
  5. Herba Buena (Healing Wonders of Philippine Medicinal Plants)