Mints belong to the genus Mentha, the most common being peppermint, spearmint or a hybrid of the two. Other animals enjoy a mouthful of mint also.
The mint moth is a small purplish-brown moth with golden spots, it flies during the day as well as at night and is often found hanging around mint. As indeed are the caterpillars of the mint moth. Always check your mint before cooking with it!
The flowers are a useful source of nectar for bees and hoverflies. Our mint patch has also proved to be a good lurking place for speckled bush cricket nymphs.
Traditionally mint has been used to treat digestive troubles and for clearing heads. The Roman naturalist, Pliny the Elder, recommended that his students wear mint wreaths to “exhilarate their minds”. Menthol is derived from the essential oil of mint and used in many medicinal potions.
The strong flavour of mint makes it a useful herb for cooking or making refreshing drinks, see here for a recipe for “Raspberry peach mint coconut water”. Another famous drink involving mint is the Mint Julep, made with bourbon, sugar, water and mint. You can find a recipe here. The drink is strongly associated with the Kentucky Derby, Hunter S Thompson described blending in during visit to the Kentucky Derby, “We could always load up on acid and spend the day roaming around the grounds with big sketch pads, laughing hysterically at the natives and swilling mint juleps so the cops wouldn’t think we’re abnormal.”