Peppermint Tea Benefits That'll Have You Reaching for a Large Mug

Find out what benefits peppermint tea offers, then learn how to brew the perfect cup.

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Peppermint is one of those classic, tried-and-true flavors that’s found in myriad products and foods (looking at you, candy canes). The fresh leaves are also popular garnishes for drinks, from mojitos to plain ol’ water. And tea drinkers can enjoy the herb in the form of peppermint tea, which is made of just peppermint leaves and hot water and is basically the drink equivalent of a warm hug.

Aside from its refreshing and delicious flavor, the beverage boasts a surprising roster of health perks that will inspire you to brew a pot. Ahead, find everything you need to know about peppermint tea benefits, plus how to brew peppermint tea for maximum enjoy-mint (sorry, had to).

What Is Peppermint Tea? 

Peppermint is an herb that’s native to Europe and is a hybrid of two mint varieties — spearmint and water mint — according to an article in the journal Food Science and Quality Management. Peppermint plants can grow up to three feet tall and have pointy green leaves, which can be steeped fresh or dried in hot water to make peppermint tea, according to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. The leaves (and by extension, the tea) contain peppermint essential oil, which can be extracted and used in food or topical products, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.

Peppermint Tea Nutrition

Peppermint leaves (which, again, are used to make tea) contain a small amount of minerals, including magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc, and selenium, according to an article in the Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry. The herb also offers some antioxidants, such as flavonoids and phenolic compounds, says Maddie Pasquariello, M.S., R.D., registered dietitian and founder of Nutrition with Maddie. However, the real star of the show is menthol, the main active compound in peppermint leaves and tea, which is responsible for many of the health benefits of peppermint tea.

Worth noting, if you’re sensitive to caffeine, peppermint tea makes the perfect pre-bedtime drink. Like other herbal teas, the beverage is naturally caffeine-free, according to Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. This means it won’t mess with your beauty sleep, even if you drink it at night.

What Are the Benefits of Peppermint Tea?

Learn how peppermint tea benefits can impact your health, according to nutrition experts.

May Lower Risk of Chronic Disease

 As mentioned, peppermint tea is a source of antioxidants. This includes phenolic compounds, flavones, and vitamin C, according to Pasquariello. “Antioxidants are part of our cellular defense mechanism; they neutralize free radicals, which are responsible for cellular distress in the body,” she explains. Over time, free radicals can accumulate and cause oxidative stress, which can contribute to chronic health issues including cancer, hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease, according to an article in Frontiers of Physiology. But by drinking peppermint tea — and eating plenty of antioxidant-rich foods, of course — you can up your intake of antioxidants, potentially keeping chronic conditions at bay.

Improves Digestive Issues

If you’ve sought out natural remedies for digestive woes, you’ve likely heard about the benefits of peppermint tea and oil. “Peppermint calms the muscles of the stomach and improves the flow of bile, which the body uses to digest fats,” explains Kylie Ivanir, M.S., R.D., registered dietitian and founder of Within Nutrition. This can help food and gasses pass more quickly, ultimately improving an upset stomach, according to Ivanir. The calming, anti-inflammatory effects of menthol in peppermint can also help ease nausea, which is often rooted in gut inflammation, she adds.

Relieves Pain

If you menstruate, you might want to add peppermint tea to your monthly self-care lineup. In addition to calming the GI tract (which may be helpful for those dreaded period poops), the menthol in peppermint relaxes muscle spasms, “which may help reduce uterine contractions and cramping,” says Ivanir. But wait, there’s more: When ingested, peppermint may also provide analgesic (pain-relieving) properties, according to Pasquariello. “Analgesics [work] by blocking the nervous system’s signals to the brain and how the brain makes sense of those signals,” she explains. This may further soothe menstrual pain, as well as headaches and other types of discomfort.

Reduces Congestion

Another benefit of peppermint tea is its ability to ease congestion. “Menthol is a decongestant and has a thinning effect on mucus," according to Ivanir. "It breaks up phlegm [and] mucus, thereby relieving your stuffy nose and sore throat.” Even simply breathing in the steam of hot peppermint tea will also have a decongestant effect, she adds.

Potential Risks of Peppermint Tea

For the average person, peppermint tea is safe, according to Pasquariello. The exception is if you have a peppermint allergy, which is rare but possible, according to an article in Allergy, Asthma & Clinical Immunology. An allergic reaction to peppermint can cause symptoms such as throat tightness, coughing, itchy mouth, lip swelling, wheezing, difficulty swallowing, and shortness of breath, according to Pasquariello.

Additionally, despite the soothing benefits of peppermint tea, the drink can do more harm than good if you have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). “Peppermint can relax the sphincter between the stomach and esophagus, allowing the stomach acids to flow back into the esophagus, worsening heartburn,” according to Ivanir. If you have a history of GERD or heartburn, be cautious with peppermint tea and ask your doc if it’s safe for you.

How to Reap the Benefits of Peppermint Tea

If you want in on the benefits peppermint tea offers, you have several options. It’s available in tea bags or loose leaf format, which both consist of dried peppermint leaves. To brew peppermint tea (or any tea, for that matter), start by warming up your teapot by adding hot water, swirling it around, then pouring it out, says Jee Choe, tea sommelier and founder of Oh, How Civilized, a tea and food blog. Tea professionals always take this step to prevent the water from drastically cooling during the steep, she notes. Next, add your peppermint tea and hot water (208 to 212 degrees Fahrenheit), steep for at least five minutes, then take out the tea bag or strain the loose tea, says Choe. And just like that, your peppermint tea is ready to enjoy.

Another option is to use fresh peppermint leaves to make tea — and no, you don’t need to dry them first. Simply rinse the leaves under running water, then add them to a warm teapot with hot water and let it steep for five minutes, instructs Choe. The exact number of leaves depends on their size and your preference, but try using seven to 10 leaves per cup to start.

Peppermint tea, whether made with dried or fresh leaves, can be enjoyed as is. But if you’re looking for a tasty twist, consider the following ideas for serving peppermint tea:

Drink it cold. There’s nothing like an iced peppermint tea to quench your thirst. To make it cold, prepare peppermint tea as usual, let it cool, and add ice cubes. If you’re concerned that the tea will become watered down, you can steep the leaves longer for a stronger flavor.

Add it to green tea. When making cold-brew green tea, Choe likes adding fresh peppermint leaves to make the drink even more refreshing. Check out her recipe for how to make iced green tea from scratch.

Mix in sweetener. For a sweeter kick, add a bit of maple syrup, honey, or coconut sugar to your next cup of peppermint tea.

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