I recently ran a workshop and used a mint plant to illustrate what essential oils are and where they come from. In the case of peppermint the essential oil is held in the leaves of the plant, and literally brushing your hand over the leaves is enough to release the essential oil, which in turn releases the scent. Peppermint is a great oil that really supports digestion and sometimes just the initial smell from the plant can stimulate our appetite, make our mouth water and our tummy rumble as our body releases various digestive enzymes in preparation for eating.
Fresh Mint Tea – a cup of mint tea is a great way to use peppermint regularly to support your digestion. Dried herbs which are usually used in herbal tea bags will contain a very small amount of essential oil which is why they don’t smell as strong as when fresh. So making a pot of mint tea using the fresh leaves from the plant will ensure you experience more of the benefits of the essential oils.
If you don’t happen to have a mint plant in your garden or close by to harvest from, you can buy a bag of fresh mint from most supermarkets, or a pot from a garden centre would be handy for regular use. All you need to do is pluck a few leaves from the stems, give them a rinse and pop them into a tea pot. I like mine strong so I usually use around 10-20 leaves, then add boiling water and let it brew for at least 5 minutes. It’s very refreshing, and I’m sure you will appreciate the difference compared with using a peppermint tea bag -I’m really not a fan of tea bags, but if it’s all you can get hold of, it’s still worth making it in a tea pot, because the boiling water releases the essential oils from the plant material in the steam, and once you have the lid on the tea pot you capture the precious oils to enjoy more fully when you pour. It also feels much more nurturing to have made a pot, I like the ritual of making the tea, taking the time to let it brew, choosing the cup, and I love drinking it when the temperature is just perfect.
When I go out to a restaurant or café, I often ask for a fresh mint tea at the end of the meal, as it supports digestion. Even if they don’t advertise it on the menu, they will usually have some fresh mint in the kitchen and are usually willing to make up a pot for me -so much nicer than a tea bag.
The essential oil is much more potent than the leaves of the plant, so if you want a more powerful effect to support more serious digestive complaints you can actually buy capsules that contain peppermint essential oil in, which can be very effective. Peppermint tea will still be very supportive for conditions such as constipation, IBS, bloating, indigestion. You may also like to read my blog on digestive massage for these symptoms.
Some other delicious teas to support you… Lemongrass Tea – for a lovely, light, slightly sweet tea, try this recipe for lemongrass tea by Thaïs from her beautiful blog Spice & Smile , again you will be benefiting from the lemongrass essential oils in this and it’s a great one to help with bloating.
Lavender or Chamomile tea – to support winding down in the evenings you can make a fresh floral tea with flowers from lavender and chamomile plants as they are all soothing and calming in effect. Lavender can be a bit bitter, so I prefer to mix it with something like mint or liquorice.
Rose petal tea – a few rose petals mixed with a fresh mint tea is a particularly good combination, a couple of rose buds is enough to compliment the mint, or half a tea spoon of petals. Make sure the rose petals or buds are suitable for consumption and for use in tea. You can purchase the roses and other herbs for use in tea from Fiona Pierce at www.loveinacup.co.uk
For some gorgeous inspiration on cleaning your tea pot & making yourself shine, read this beautiful blog: Aladdin’s Lamp – Cleaning a Tea Pot.
CAUTION: Do not ever put drops of peppermint essential oil (or any other essential oil) into a glass of water and drink it! This is extremely dangerous practice that is advised by unprofessional or untrained persons. Essential oils, in their undiluted form are highly concentrated and by nature hydrophobic, meaning they do not mix with water, therefore the very delicate lining of your digestive system is exposed to the concentrated peppermint essential oil. Even if there are no immediate problems, it can be causing issues that become apparent after time.