Peppermint has a long history in herbal medicine, right back to the ancient Egyptians! (1) To this day, peppermint, in the form of tea, is commonly consumed to aid in digestion. The same ingredient that gives peppermint its distinctive flavour, menthol, also provides a sensation of coolness and of course our minty fresh toothpastes.
With such widespread use, how do we ensure this history-rich botanical continues to be a common component in our lives? Fortunately, peppermint is a pretty happy and undemanding plant in terms of cultivation compared to other botanicals. However, it still requires intense field management to ensure optimal yields and the highest leaf quality. This includes careful tillage practices to help insulate the shallow root system through the cold winter months and integrated pest management practices that introduce natural predator insects, which greatly reduce the need for agri-chemical applications.
Peppermint is a powerful perennial so well managed stands can last for 4-6 years, and many growing regions have conditions that allow the plant to generate two harvests per season. During harvest, the plant is cut and laid out to naturally dry in the fields in the arid high desert growing regions, like the American Northwest. The dry leaves are removed and unused stems are most often finely cut and returned to the soil surface as water saving mulch, giving back to the very ground it came from.
So next time you pop the jug on to enjoy your relaxing blend or peppermint brew, you can sip away knowing that right from cultivation to cup, we’re working to take care of our incredible ingredients in every.