Moroccan Spearmint (Mentha spicata var. crispa) is a pretty, compact variety of mint that looks good in your garden and can be used to flavour food, make tea or simply scent your patio!
Moroccan mint tea is extremely popular in the Arab nations, where the drink often has a ceremonial purpose, especially when made for guests by the man of the house. As it combines imported ingredients (tea from China and imported sugar) with a local ingredient (fresh mint), Moroccan mint tea is an early example of globalization in cuisine. The tea, which is also known as Tuareg tea, is the subject of this apt proverb: ‘The first glass is as bitter as life, the second is as strong as love, the third is as soothing as death’.
|Latin name||Mentha spicata|
|Plant size|| Height: 50 cm|
Width: 20 cm
|Container size|| Height: 30 cm|
Width: 30 cm
|Companion plant(s)||Tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, alpine strawberries|
|Planting outdoors||Feb to Mar|
|Germination||7 to 15 days|
|Harvesting||40 to 60 days|
|Planting||1 cm to 3 cm apart at 0.2 cm depth|
|Thinning||3 cm to 5 cm|
|Soil||Well-drained, light and poor soil|
|Watering||Regular watering, not overdone|
|Caring||Mint can be grown easily from seed, but do not cover the seeds after sowing as they need light to germinate. Many gardeners deliberately plant it in less-than-favourable conditions to slow down its spread.|
|Beneficial wildlife||An excellent attractant and nectar source for bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects.|
|Pests||Repels ants and aphids.|
|Harvesting||Moroccan mint can be picked at any time, but some of the flavour is lost after flowering. Try to pick mint in the morning, when its heady oils are at their strongest.|
|Eating|| Medicinal properties: Crush a few leaves and massage them into your temples to ease a headache. The leaves also have a soothing effect when placed directly on to insect stings.|
How to eat: Traditional Moroccan tea involves Chinese Gunpowder green tea, sugar cones, boiling water, mint and, of course, a lot of love. If you have more Western tastes, you could use the mint generously in classic mint-laced cocktails like the Mojito and the Mint Julep. It also makes a fantastic garnish for the elegant, old-fashioned Grasshopper cocktail.
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