The strong, distinct smell and taste of peppermint is something that has infused many childhoods. Whether it was the crisp flavor your mouth craved while wrestling with the plastic wrapper that encased your first candy cane of Christmas, or the round red-and-white disc the school nurse gave you to help cure your stomachache that may or may not have been real, peppermint is refreshing, familiar and welcome all at the same time. Kids aren’t the only ones who enjoy this distinct flavor and aroma. Every morning after I’m finished with my coffee, I pop a tiny white peppermint into my mouth to disintegrate the dreaded coffee breath and to help the caffeine in waking me up to go nonstop for yet another day.
In the kitchen
The peppermint plant grows in a number of countries, but it is native to Europe and Asia and is naturalized to North America, where it is grown in parts of Indiana, Michigan, New York and Ohio.1,2 The plant itself grows to about two feet tall and blooms between July and August, yielding fragrant leaves and flowers that are the source of the volatile oil featuring peppermint’s active component, menthol.1
Lending its distinctive flavor and aroma to many dishes, the plant is used in a variety of ways in the kitchen. One of the best known is in peppermint tea, which is composed of the plant’s dried leaves, and other cuisine offerings include desserts and refreshing beverages.1
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At Spa Park Asia at the Grand Plaza Park Hotel in Singapore, the Spa Park Asia Signature Tea accompanies spa cuisine entrées and is composed of a refreshing mixture of peppermint, rosemary and lemon peel to cleanse the body of toxins. For a rise-and-shine breakfast, granola is served with peppermint leaves at Spa Avania in the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch in Scottsdale, Arizona, and for a refreshing—and healthy—indulgence, check out the Vegan Peppermint Chocolate Mousse recipe from Head Chef Todd Cameron of Bangalow, Australia’s Gaia Retreat & Spa.
In the spa
As refreshing as peppermint’s flavor is, it also serves many medicinal purposes, as well. Thanks to its most potent ingredient, menthol, peppermint works to ease muscle pain and can also clear sinuses, calm the stomach and help relieve menstrual cramps. Topical applications, such as creams, lotions and massage oils, have a soothing, cooling effect on the skin, but topical peppermint also has been known to result in contact dermatitis, so a conservative, diluted approach is always best.1
At Creative Chakra Spa in Marina Del Rey, California, the Spa-Chelorette Party package includes a Peppermint Pedicure for the ladies, and the groom can get in the game too by enjoying the Peppermint Sports Manicure and Pedicure as part of the Essential Groom package at The Spa at the Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong. The Rosemount Inn & Spa in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, caps off many of its packages with a delightful Customized Peppermint Scalp Treatment, and the Warm Milk and Peppermint Manicure and Pedicure are both part of The Very Important Pampering (VIP) package at Ampy’s in Honolulu. At Spa Space in Chicago, clients can enjoy the Stoner’s Delight, a package that wraps up with a cool peppermint foot scrub and an invigorating peppermint foot cream, and the Mystic Sage Stone Ritual at Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa in Galena, Illinois, begins with herb bundles of organic peppermint and lavender to calm and uplift emotions while cooling tired muscles.
Taking advantage of its familiar fragrance, professional spa products containing peppermint abound during the holidays and throughout the year. Soluzione Spa Products offers Aromatherapy Associates’ Rescue Lavender & Peppermint Body Oil, and Haken’s Chocolate Mint Pedicure combines menthol, wintergreen and peppermint oils to refresh and stimulate toes. Clear My Head offers a classic aromatherapy blend of lavender and peppermint essential oils to relieve headaches with its product Ache, and The Sexy Soles Foot Collection from Get Fresh soothes the senses while softening, exfoliating and moisturizing feet using peppermint. This season, LaLicious offers a Holiday Box featuring four body products in Peppermint, and Banner Therapy Products’ Peppermint Pedango is a cream that combines arnica, peppermint and lemongrass to calm and cool tissue, especially for clients with troublesome varicose veins. Peppermint Hand and Foot Therapy from June Jacobs Spa Collection revives and softens hands and feet, and Jurlique’s Peppermint Pure Essential Oil refreshes and cools skin while relieving a variety of minor discomforts.
A refreshing experience
As the weather turns brisk, consider welcoming this plant and all of its benefits through your spa doors and into your clients’ lives for a refreshing experience that may cause reminiscing about the past or reinvigoration for the future.
(All accessed Oct 1, 2008)