Made from the dried leaves of the peppermint plant, peppermint tea is an herbal infusion with a fresh, soothing flavor. And unless it’s mixed with green, black, or white tea (check the label), peppermint tea is a caffeine-free, tea-free, zero-calorie beverage that packs in so many health benefits, it’s kind of wild that it comes in such a small package.
Peppermint tea can be enjoyed iced or hot, and a cup or two daily is the optimal amount to sip to get all the health benefits, according to Lauren Cadillac, RD, CPT, and Bianca Kamhi, a certified holistic health coach. Whether you’re in it purely for the fresh taste or eager to boost your digestion, ease your tension, and more, here are a few added benefits to drinking peppermint tea.
“Some animal studies have shown that peppermint has a relaxing effect, especially on the gastrointestinal tract, demonstrating its ability to ease an upset stomach,” says Cadillac. “Peppermint has also been shown to help ease digestive symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) such as stomach pain, diarrhea, and constipation. Peppermint has also been shown to be a strong antioxidant and have antimicrobial and antiviral activity.”
Ordering a cup of tea after a big meal? Great idea. Cadillac says you can expect digestive symptoms to improve 30 to 60 minutes after drinking peppermint tea, but notes that people with heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease may experience worsening of symptoms.
Peppermint tea’s active ingredient, menthol, can help to relieve migraines and headaches. “The type of headaches that peppermint tea usually helps with are those that are caused by poor eating habits or daily stress,” Kamhi explains. “In these cases, these headaches typically restrict the blood vessels that go to the brain, and peppermint tea has the ability to open them up, which therefore can relieve the tension causing the headache.”
“Peppermint tea is an immune booster, due to its high levels of antiviral antibiotic properties,” Kamhi says. Therefore, sipping peppermint tea may help relieve symptoms of the common cold, thanks in part to menthol’s ability to thin out mucus and calm the increase of mucus in sinuses and the throat. “This can help you breathe better,” Kamhi says. “It can also help to get rid of bad bacteria in the upper respiratory tract, which is why it’s a great immune booster.”
Not a gum chewer? Keep a bag of peppermint tea on hand for bad breath emergencies. “Peppermint holds a number of antibacterial properties which can kill germs in your mouth,” Kamhi says. “This, along with its pleasant and fresh smell, may help freshen your breath.”