Mentha (mint) is a genus of about 25-30 species of flowering plants in the family Lamiaceae; several hybrids also occur. Mints are generally vigorous, spreading plants that tolerate a wide range of conditions. They can be highly invasive plants, so caution should be taken in cultivation or it can take over an entire garden or even crop field.
The most common and popular mints for cultivation are peppermint (Mentha × piperita), and spearmint (Mentha spicata), the latter being the main variety cultivated in Cyprus.
The dark green leaves have a pleasant warm, fresh, aromatic, sweet flavor with a cool aftertaste. Mint essential oils are used to flavor food, candy, teas, breath fresheners, antiseptic mouth rinses, and toothpaste. Mint leaves are used in teas, beverages, jellies, syrups, and ice creams. In Mid-Eastern cuisines, mint is used on lamb dishes. In British cuisine, mint sauce is popular with meats.
Mint was originally used as a medicinal herb to treat stomach ache and chest pains. During the middle ages, powdered mint leaves were used to whiten teeth. Mint tea is a strong diuretic.
Menthol is an ingredient of many cosmetics and perfumes. Menthol and mint essential oil are also much used in medicine as component of many drugs, and are very popular in aromatherapy.
It is also used in cigarettes as an additive, because it blocks out the bitter taste of tobacco and soothes the throat.
Here in Cyprus, mint leaves are used as an aromatic ingredient in the process of making halloumi cheese, a truly Cypriot traditional product.
Production and Packing:
Fresh mint is available on a year round basis, but during the winter period volumes and quality are adversely affected from the cold weather, unless the crop is protected in greenhouses.