What’s the difference between Peppermint and Spearmint?

The two are often lumped together as the same thing, but there are distinct differences between the two. For starters, the two are derived from different species of plants even though they look identical. The spearmint is derived from Mentha spicata while peppermint is derived from Mentha piperita. The difference between the two comes from the chemical component levels in them most notably in the amount of menthol in peppermint being significantly higher than the amount in spearmint.

Those different levels of menthol are what give peppermint and spearmint their different tastes. Spearmint has a much more mellow and sweet flavor. The high levels of menthol in peppermint are what gives it the much more harsh and spicy flavor and that strong feeling of cooling that is often connected to chewing gum or breath mints.

Fun bonus fact: The use of peppermint over spearmint in medicines, body lotions and creams comes from peppermint having the high levels of menthol that causes more activity in sensory receptors and brings on a feeling of coldness or coolness without actually changing body temperature.

This article was curated from spoonuniversity.com.