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Spearmint vs. Peppermint: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 17, 2023
Spearmint has a milder flavor; peppermint is more intense and slightly spicier.

Key Differences

Spearmint, known scientifically as Mentha spicata, is a herb that originates from Europe and Asia. Peppermint, on the other hand, is a hybrid plant, a cross between spearmint and watermint. Both plants are members of the mint family and have a characteristic minty aroma.
Spearmint leaves are bright green, lance-shaped, and have serrated edges. Peppermint leaves are darker and more purple-tinged with a smoother texture. The distinct appearance between the two makes them easily identifiable in gardens or markets.
In terms of flavor, spearmint offers a milder, sweeter taste, often described as refreshing. Peppermint is more intense, with a spicier kick to it. This difference in taste makes them suitable for different culinary applications.
Essential oils extracted from spearmint and peppermint are used in a variety of products. Spearmint oil is gentler and is often used in products aimed at children or those with sensitive skin. Peppermint oil has a strong, penetrating scent and can produce a cooling sensation, making it a favorite in many topical ointments.
Medicinally, both spearmint and peppermint have been used for centuries to aid digestion and soothe stomach issues. However, the menthol in peppermint is more concentrated, which means peppermint can provide more intense relief for certain conditions, while spearmint may be gentler on the system.

Comparison Chart


Native to Europe and Asia
Hybrid of spearmint and watermint


Bright green, lance-shaped leaves
Darker, purple-tinged leaves


Milder, sweeter
More intense, spicier

Essential Oil Use

Gentler, suitable for sensitive skin
Strong, cooling effect

Medicinal Use

Gentler on the system
More concentrated relief

Spearmint and Peppermint Definitions


A herb with bright green, lance-shaped leaves.
She added fresh spearmint to her iced tea.


A cross between spearmint and watermint.
Peppermint has characteristics from both its parent plants.


A plant originating from Europe and Asia.
Spearmint has been cultivated in European gardens for centuries.


A hybrid mint plant with a spicier, intense flavor.
Peppermint candies are a favorite during the holiday season.


An essential oil known for its gentler properties.
The lotion, infused with spearmint, was perfect for her sensitive skin.


Known for its dark, purple-tinged leaves.
The peppermint plant stood out in the garden with its dark leaves.


A member of the mint family with a milder flavor than peppermint.
For a less intense flavor, she chose spearmint gum.


Used in products for its cooling effects and strong aroma.
The peppermint shampoo gave a refreshing tingle to her scalp.


Used in culinary dishes for its refreshing taste.
The chef incorporated spearmint into the dessert sauce.


A source of concentrated menthol used for medicinal purposes.
He sipped peppermint tea to soothe his upset stomach.


An aromatic Eurasian plant (Mentha spicata) in the mint family, having clusters of small purplish flowers and yielding an oil used widely as a flavoring.


A hybrid perennial plant (Mentha ×piperita) in the mint family, having small purple or white flowers and downy leaves that yield a pungent oil used as a flavoring and in some medicinal preparations.


A herb of the mint family (Mentha spicata), commonly used in herb tea, candy and to treat mild stomach ache.


A candy or lozenge flavored with oil from this plant.


A species of mint (Mentha viridis) growing in moist soil. It vields an aromatic oil. See Mint, and Mentha.


Common garden herb having clusters of small purplish flowers and yielding an oil used as a flavoring


What is spearmint?

Spearmint is a herb native to Europe and Asia, known for its bright green leaves and milder mint flavor.

How does peppermint differ from spearmint?

Peppermint is a hybrid of spearmint and watermint, with a spicier and more intense flavor.

Can spearmint and peppermint be used interchangeably in recipes?

While they can be swapped, the flavor intensity varies; spearmint is milder, and peppermint is more intense.

Which is more common in candies, spearmint or peppermint?

Peppermint is more commonly used in candies due to its strong, refreshing flavor.

Are the essential oils of spearmint and peppermint different?

Yes, spearmint oil is gentler, while peppermint oil offers a strong, cooling sensation.

Can spearmint aid in digestion?

Yes, both spearmint and peppermint have been traditionally used to aid digestion.

What cuisines use spearmint in their dishes?

Spearmint is popular in many cuisines, especially in Mediterranean dishes.

Is peppermint always purple?

Not always, but peppermint leaves are typically darker and can have a purple tinge.

Are the medicinal benefits of spearmint and peppermint similar?

They have some overlapping benefits, like aiding digestion, but peppermint's higher menthol concentration can offer more intense relief for certain conditions.

Do spearmint and peppermint have different colors when dried?

Generally, dried spearmint retains a greenish hue, while peppermint may be slightly darker.

Where is spearmint native to?

Spearmint is native to Europe and Asia.

What is the main compound in peppermint oil?

The main compound in peppermint oil is menthol.

Is peppermint stronger than spearmint?

In terms of flavor and menthol content, peppermint is generally stronger than spearmint.

Which mint is used in mojito cocktails, spearmint or peppermint?

Mojitos traditionally use spearmint.

Are there any skincare products with spearmint?

Yes, spearmint, due to its gentler properties, is often found in skincare products.

Can you grow both spearmint and peppermint at home?

Yes, both mints can be grown at home, but they can be invasive, so it's recommended to plant them in containers.

Which has a more refreshing taste, spearmint or peppermint?

While both are refreshing, peppermint is considered to have a more intense refreshing flavor.

Can I use peppermint instead of spearmint in tea?

Yes, but be prepared for a stronger, spicier flavor with peppermint.

Which mint is commonly found in toothpaste, spearmint or peppermint?

Both can be found, but peppermint is more common due to its intense, fresh flavor.

How does peppermint chocolate taste compared to spearmint chocolate?

Peppermint chocolate is spicier and more intense, while spearmint chocolate is sweeter and milder.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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