Everyone knows the taste and smell of mint, but, do we really? There are so many mint species and hybrids carrying a variety of tastes, such as chocolate, lemon and whatnot. In 2017 we have embarked in a project in finding out the best mint variety for our climate, and our taste buds. Here are the first results of our experiment.
M. suaveolens, also called apple mint, is the best mint we have tried so far with respect to hardiness, growth pattern and taste. We grow it in the original sandy soil of our garden (basically pure sand), giving it some nutrition once a year. In these conditions, it does not spread too much, but produces enough new growth to give us a bunch of fresh leaves each day. We mix these leaves with black tea, and the aroma when we add the hot water is unbelievable, as is the taste of the drink!
Apple mint is also a very decorative mint. Its leaves are covered by light thin hair, its stems are stiff and look straight up, even when it is flowering. Its flowers are also very decorative (similarly to all the other mints mentioned below). They attract lots of pollinators when they finally flower in August.
Mentha x piperita
M. piperita, also called pepper mint is likely the most classic mint. We have purchased ours in a grocery store. It grew quite well and survived few winters in our garden. However, its leaves and stems are very tender, which gives several disadvantages.
In our cold and often rainy climate, M. piperita grows long thin stems that often do not support their weight and fall to the ground. This does not make the plant particularly attractive.
Tea made out of the leaves of M. piperita does not have as much mint taste and aroma as the one of M. suaveolens.
M. piperita has a plain green colour. Other mint varieties look much more decorative. I know that mints are supposed to be tasty, more than decorative, but with so many varieties being present on the market, it is possible to find more decorative and still very tasty mints.
Mentha x piperita “Chocolate”
Who could resist a mint that is called chocolate? We couldn’t. This is why we bought it! However, this mint did not produce and clear chocolate aroma or taste, which significantly disappointed us. We have tried it in teas, but it adds to the tea even less aroma than the common pepper mint.
This is why we do not use the chocolate mint as a spice, but grow it due to its rather decorative leaves. Maybe, in the coming year, we will find recipes for which this chocolate mint will be more suited.
Mentha x piperita f. “Citrata”
We bought this mint in late summer 2017, and we do not know yet whether it is suited for our Nordic climate. Its leaves have a very distinctive citrus aroma that I look forward to using in teas next year!
Mentha x villosa
There is rather little information about this mint online, besides the fact that this mint is called mojito mint. We bought M. villosa in autumn 2017, and we had not yet the opportunity to test whether it is suited for our Nordic climate and its taste.
As you can see from the cross between the words Mentha and villosa, this is a hybrid mint, a cross between two mint species, M. spicata (spearmint) and M. suaveolens (applemint). The latter is my favourite mint, so I look forward seeing whether this hybrid is even better than its parent!
Mentha longifolia “Silver Form”
This is a decorative mint with silvery leaves that we bought together with some other perennials. We planted it in half shade, and each year this plant has been creeping more and more towards the sun.
Its leaves do not have a very minty fragrance and due to the fact that it was bred for appearance, we are not using it in the kitchen.
Tasks for next year: Try making mint sauce, mint tea, freeze mint and see which variety performs the best. Plant more mint varieties, especially Mentha spicata, which is shamefully missing in our collection. And much more, of course!
I gladly give M. suaveolens the Amberway Approval and look forward to the next season filled with more mints, flowers and crops!
Flowering time: August
Flower yield: Medium-high
Sun exposure: ½ day sun
Pollinator attraction: High
Lowest temperature survived: -20°C