It’s in toothpaste. It’s in candy canes. It’s in mojitos. In whatever form it crosses your path, it’s hard to miss the distinctive taste and aroma of this well-known herb.
It grows well in flowerpots, provided it gets enough water. It grows like a weed in a sunny, well-watered yard and if left unchecked will pretty much take over everything.
We have spearmint and peppermint growing in our yard and we dry it all summer long. We regularly tie in it bunches from our clothesline, and then fill spice jars with it for cooking and making teas.
All of this made me pretty proud of myself and my knowledge of the world of mint, until a recent stroll through our yard with a neighbor put me in my place.
As he was passing the corner of the flowerbed in which my prized mint is growing he said, “Oh look, you have wooly tea growing.”
I replied with a very articulate, “Huh?” or something similar.
Do you know how to recognize wooly mint? Got tips for telling it apart from other mints? Share your insights with us in the comments. Got a picture of wooly mint? Upload it here.
He proceeded to bend down and touch the leaves of the mint plant that I had previously been calling spearmint and tell us that it was a plant that used to grow all over his yard as a kid that they would boil and make into iced tea. A tea they called wooly tea.
We boil it and make it into ice tea too. We just call it spearmint tea.
So I set off on a research endeavor to locate a picture of wooly mint and determine once and for all what kind of mint we are growing.
While I learned a lot about mint, including the fact that catnip is actually a type of mint that goes by the name cat mint. Apparently, humans can drink catnip tea, which has a lemony and minty taste, according to the web site called Gryphon’s Book of Teas.
In addition to catnip, there are 25-30 other varieties of mint – spearmint, peppermint – OK, I knew those – pineapple mint, penny royal and apple mint, also known as wooly mint.
After staring at online pictures of wooly mint for more time that I care to admit, I still can’t tell if what we have is spearmint or wooly mint. Can you?