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Revision as of 15:55, 22 June 2020 by DrinkBoy (talk | contribs) (Mentha)
This page is very much a work in progress... My goal with this page is to try to list the various "types" of mint that might be used behind the bar by common name (ie. what you would see at a nursery) as well as details on what to expect flavorwise. Plus at the same time help to discuss the overall "mint" concept so that bartenders and cocktail enthusiasts will have a better idea of this rather complicated subject.

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.


It will be difficult to fully examine mint as a broad set of varieties without having to get into plant taxonomy a little bit.

Tracing the full taxonomy down to "Mentha" we have:[1]

  • Kingdom: "Plantae" (Plants)
    • Subkingdom: "Tracheobionta" (Vascular plants)
      • Superdivision: "Spermatophyta" (Seed plants)
        • Division: "Magnoliophyta" (Flowering plants)
          • Class: Magnoliopsida "Dicotyledons" (Seed grows with two embryonic leaves)
            • Subclass: "Asteridae"
              • Order: "Lamiales"
                • Family: "Lamiaceae" (Mint family - aka: Dead Nettle Tribe)
                  • Genus: "Mentha L." (mint)
                    • Species: "Mentha aquatica L." (water mint)
                    • Species: "Mentha spicata L." (spearmint)
                    • Species: "Mentha × piperita L." (peppermint)

Within genus "Mentha", there are perhaps 24 known and accepted sub-species[2]. 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> [3].

Below "Species" is sometimes "Subspecies" or "Form". After a plant passes through this gauntlet of naming convention, there is often one more label it can utilize "Cultivar". A cultivar name indicates a plant which is basically part of the overall plant taxonomy, but was derived not from standard seed dispersal, but by "cultivation" for a specific trait or characteristic that was noticed. Sometimes a cultivar can stay true to seed (ie. you plant the seeds from the cultivated plant, and the characteristics you cultivated for are present), but often it is necessary to resort to growing from cuttings, or "cloning" in order to retain the desired characteristics. A cultivar name will often be represented by a common/English name in quotes at the end. Here is an example:

Mentha × Piperita f. Citrata 'Chocolate'

The ingredient in mint which provides it's distinctive flavor and aroma is Menthol, which is present in various degrees in all varieties[4].

Below, we will attempt to list the botanical names for the various common names of mint. Some details to understand, which we will attempt to follow, is that (most) of these mints will be of the genus "Mentha" and following that will be the "Species" (ie. "spicata" for Spearmint). In some cases there will be a "×" listed between the Genus and Species, this is an indication that it is a hybrid species. This is why Peppermint is named "Mentha x piperita", to indicate that it is a hybrid. In this case a hybrid of "spicata" and "aquatica". Many of the variously named mints are going to be either part of the spearmint or peppermint family, sometimes without a name that clearly differentiates one from another (but shouldn't they?). In some cases there will be a "f." in front of the "Form/Forma", and following that may be a common name in quotes to indicate that this is a "Cultivar" of that Genus/Species/Form. Example:

Genus Species Form Cultivar
Mentha × Piperita f. Citrata 'Chocolate'

From this, we can see that "Chocolate Mint" is a cultivated variety of peppermint (Mentha × Piperita) from the subspecies/form "Citrata". If we look through the list of various mints (below) we will can see that this must be closely related to "Strawberry Mint", which has the name of: Mentha Spicata f. Citrata "Strawberry".

Hopefully all of this doesn't make things more confusing then it already may have, so now lets dive into the various types of mint you might see around.


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

Mentha spicata '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’

Slender Mint

Mentha diemenica [5] 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

Strawberry Mint

Mentha Spicata f. Citrata ‘Strawberry’

Mojito Mint

Mentha × villosa

Field mint, wild mint

Mentha arvensis


Mentha × gracilis


Mentha requienii

Bigleaf mint, mint

Mentha × rotundifolia

Smith's mint

Mentha × smithiana Graham

bush mint, spearmint

Mentha spicata

bigleaf mint, mint, apple mint

Mentha suaveolens


Mentha × verticillata

Mojito Mint, Cuban Mint, Hairy Mint

Mentha × 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.


Mentha x Piperita [6]

Lavender Mint

Mentha × Piperita 'Lavendula'[7]

Eau de Cologne Mint

Mentha x Piperita f. Citrata 'Eau de Cologne'

Lemon Mint

Mentha x Piperita f. Citrata 'Lemon'

Orange Mint

Mentha x Piperita f. Citrata 'Orange'

Grapefruit Mint

Mentha x Piperita f. Citrata 'Grapefruit'

Chocolate Mint

Mentha × Piperita f. Citrata 'Chocolate'

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.


Mentha Aquatica

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) [8]
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. Classification for Kingdom Plantae Down to Genus Mentha L. USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
  2. Mentha Plants of the World
  3. Mentha (Integrated Taxonomic Information System)
  4. Menthol (Wikipedia)
  5. Mentha diemenica, Wild Mint, Slender Mint (Australian National Herbarium)
  6. Mentha x Piperita (Plants.USDA.Gov)
  7. Ahmed, Shawkat. (2018). Molecular identification of Lavendula dentata L., Mentha longifolia (L.) Huds. and Mentha × piperita L. by DNA barcodes. Bangladesh Journal of Plant Taxonomy. 25. 149-157. 10.3329/bjpt.v25i2.39519.
  8. Herba Buena (Healing Wonders of Philippine Medicinal Plants)