Today 12 June it’s all about the mint. One of my most favourite people in the whole world is a little man called Ari. One day when we were out and about I bought him some mint Tic Tacs. Maybe that’s irresponsible if me, but I did. He said they tasted like toothpaste and given he really really like toothpaste, I immediately knew that I had started something I probably could not stop. The genie was out of the bottle.
Today I was out lunching with Ari and he quietly suggested we pop into the newsagent close by and get some Tic Tacs. Again, I really should have found a way to avoid the question, distract him – or here’s an idea – say no. But I didn’t because they way he took my hand and led me was really so cute. I am not sure he ate much of the lunch that was subsequently ordered for him as he had a mouth full of sugary sweet pill shaped lollies with seemingly no nutritional value, but he was as happy as a lark (his mother I suspect was not). He lovingly proclaimed “I love mint”.
So you can quite see why I was so mint focussed today. I looked at all my wrapping paper for something with a fabulous mint hue, but it wasn’t sitting right…the paper was just too play school green. Mint is a difficult shade to define, so I decided to go back to basics – the mint plant.
Mint is an herbaceous plant that belongs to the Lamiaceae family.The species are not clearly distinct, and estimates of their number vary from 13 to 18. You’ve got your
close relatives of spearmint, peppermint, curly mint, ginger mint, apple mint, pineapple mint, eau de cologne mint, water mint, pennyroyal and Corsican mint. With so many types of mint the colour of mint leaves can vary – you’ve got your bright green, your dark green, your grayish-green or even your purple. The leaves have a lanceolate shape (as in shaped like a lance head; as in a narrow oval shape tapering to a point at each end; as in a new scrabble word) and serrated edges and contain compounds called pulegone and menthol which are the source of the characteristic aroma of the plant and cooling effect that mint produces.
Given the right conditions, mint reproduces quickly and is sometimes (and it saddens me to say this) considered an invasive species. Which is a bit tough on a plant that is a rich source of vitamins A, C and B2 as well as calcium, copper and magnesium.
According to the UK Herb Society the name “minthe” originates from Greek mythology. According to the legend, Hades’s wife Persephone turned the river’s nymph Minthe into herbaceous plant after she discovered that Hades is in love with her. Don’t mess with Persephone. Since Hades couldn’t reverse the spell, he added a beautiful scent to a newly created plant. That way, thanks to Hades, mint spreads a magnificent fragrance when people walk across her.
It is said that the Greeks used mint to clean their banqueting tables and in their baths to stimulate their bodies. Romans used it in sauces, as an aid to digestion and as a mouth freshener. Monks of medieval times used it for its culinary and medicinal properties – those crafty monks.
And now the Ari link. Today, essential oils and menthol extracted from the mint leaves are used in the manufacture of toothpaste and mouthwashes and mint remains popular for whitening teeth. Mint leaves are used in aromatherapy and in the cosmetic industry – think of all those minty mintness creams, lotions, perfumes and shampoos. Mint is used for the treatment of stomach and chest pain (it has been discovered that the active ingredient in peppermint is menthol which as an anti-spasmodic effect.)
It’s also said to relieve respiratory difficulties and skin burns because it produces cooling effect. A cup of mint tea goes a long way to calming most upset tummies.
Mint is indeed most remarkably versatile and that’s before we get to its decorator and properties as a timeless colour. Mint colour schemes? No worries. Mint paint? Here we go! Mint bridal touches? Why not?
I love mint and white together. It seems so clean and fresh – just like the mouthwash mint I so closely associate with. So when I wrapped this gift, I paired some white gloss paper with a simple, clean crisp pavilion grosgrain ribbon from Vandoros. I am not in the least bit phased that the stated colour of the ribbon is sea foam – it says mint to me – and as I have found out there are many many types and colours of mint. I don’t think you need to overdo mint and white. It’s best just to focus on one thing and really really enjoy it and today it’t the ribbon. Just like Ari and the Tic Tacs.