Spearmint is a herbacious perennial with a distinctive aroma whose leaves are used both fresh and dried. Known since antiquity, in Greek mythology it was associated with the nymph Menthe–from which the word ‘mint’ derives. The herb is believed to have both medicinal and cosmetic properties, while in the Arab world it is associated with eroticism.
Spearmint has antibacterial properties which, combined with its fresh flavor, recommend it for use in mouthwashes and other dental care products. Hippocrates recommended chewing minth for indigestion while through the ages it often appears as a folk remedy for nausea and coughing.
This herb typifies the cuisine of the Asia Minor Greeks, especially when combined with cinnamon in piquant tomato sauces and marinades. Mint is used in both savory dishes and sweets, and is quickly gaining fans as a tisane.