Saturday, July 04, 2015

Peppermint tea

When we were in Florence, my wife discovered the occasional Peppermint tea bag in the breakfast basket; as she prefers infusions and green tea to the British black tea accompanied with milk, she took to this readily. She had an upset stomach from the Chinese food that we ate on our first evening and I knew that peppermint tea was supposed to be good for the digestion, so I suggested that she drink it.

I looked for this tea in the supermarkets of Florence and Venice but was unable to find it. When we returned home, I did some research on the Internet and found a supplier - GiftSpot  - who would send us a package of six boxes, each containing 20 tea bags, for $17.14, not including postage. The postage cost the same as the tea, so each tea bag costs 1.12 NIS. A box containing 25 bags of green tea here costs about 28 NIS, so the price per tea bag is 1.12 NIS. I didn't mean to detour into economics, but anyway the tea has the same cost as regular tea in Israel. Just for comparison, the nettle tea which I drink is about half the price.

The package arrived yesterday. When I opened the first bag, a wonderful smell of peppermint assailed my nose. I have lost most of my sense of smell (I blame the few months I spent working with a nasty chemical called acetonitrile in 1978 for this) but fortunately, peppermint comes through strong. I added a few drops of peppermint tea to the chocolate milk shake that I was making for myself and the result was heavenly.

According to the blurb, Peppermint oil is derived from the Mentha Piperita plant. Its leaves are collected, lightly dried and steam distilled to extract the essential oil. Potent and great smelling, peppermint oil is a very useful substance for aiding digestion, relieving stomach gas and bloating, reducing the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), preventing nausea, letting go of stress, helping with respiratory problems and stopping bad breath. Particularly for the beneficial influence it can have on your digestive processes and several other reasons, it is also an effective flatulence remedy. Being a relaxant and antispasmodic for the digestive tract, peppermint oil can help stomach gas to pass through your system more easily and may help to reduce painful cramps and bloating. The volatile oil menthol in the distilled oil can also increase the flow of bile and other digestive juices to help improve digestion.

I wish the package had arrived earlier as I have been suffering from some undiagnosed stomach problem (probably parasites) for the past few weeks; I'm feeling better now.

I wondered how peppermint differs from the common Israeli mint otherwise known as nana. According to the Hebrew wikipedia, in Israel grow four varieties of nana: Mentha pulegium, M. aquatica, M. suaveolens and M. longifolia. As none of these is M. Piperita, this explains why nana is not peppermint; it doesn't explain why I don't like nana but at least gives a hint. The page claims that nana is milder than peppermint, although I don't know how 'mildness' is defined.

I mentioned the subject yesterday to the OP, who asked what the difference between spearmint and peppermint is. Apart from saying that they come from different species (Mentha spicata vs Mentha piperita), the difference is in taste, and taste is a qualia (up pops David Lodge and his excellent book "Thinks" which introduced me to qualia).

No comments: