The foliage and stems of mint (Mentha spp.) plants are used to flavor beverages and foods, as well as to add fragrance to soaps, lotions and perfumes. Mints have many scents and flavors, from the traditional mint to fruity or spicy.
Mint plants grow best in full sun or partial shade and moist soil. Wet or boggy soil will cause the roots to rot. It is best to grow mint in a pot or raised bed, since it grows rapidly and spreads aggressively. Harvest the leaves and stems of mint plants throughout season or cut back to the ground three times a year, just before the plants bloom.
Both peppermint and variegated peppermint have a crisp flavor of peppermint. The new growth on variegated Peppermint is creamy greenish-yellow. The purple-tinted blue-green leaves of 'Blue Balsam Tea' mint have a clean peppermint flavor. 'Kentucky Colonel' is a cool spearmint, while 'Mojito' is a smooth spearmint. Both are excellent for mint juleps, mint teas and other beverages. 'Chewing Gum' tastes like Wrigley's spearmint gum. Common spearmint has a stronger flavor than the varieties.
'Apple' mint has large woolly leaves with a sweet apple fragrance, while the 'Pear' cultivar smells of sweet pears. The pale gray, slightly fuzzy leaves of 'Banana' mint have a scent suggestive of that fruit. Additional fruit varieties of mint (all named for the applicable fruit), taste of pineapple, lemon, orange, lime and grapefruit.
The bronze-colored foliage of 'Chocolate' mint tastes like chocolate peppermint candy. 'Ginger' mint has bright green leaves with gold mottled stripes, and tastes like mint with a hint of ginger. 'Basil' mint is spicy and has dark green heart-shaped foliage. The floral-scented foliage of 'Lavender' mint is used in potpourri and sachets.