Mint, an herb long cultivated across the Middle East and North Africa, is renowned for its cooling and healing properties. Its modern name came from an ancient Greek myth. Persephone, the jealous wife of Pluto, transformed the object of her husband’s lust, the lovely young nymph, Minthe into a plant so all could trample her. Unable to reverse the spell, Pluto instead gave Minthe a pleasant scent that intensified when she was tread on. The name Minthe eventually evolved into Mint. The versatile plant was used by the Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans in aromatic baths, as a salve for sports injuries, and as an appetite stimulant. In Rome, Pliny the Elder advised his students to wear wreaths of mint to sharpen their minds, and senators wore mint sprigs in the hope of enhancing their oratory skills and suppressing their tempers. It has long been known to serve as a digestive aid, as an antiemetic, and as a cough suppressant. It is refreshing when served cold and soothing when served warm.
Historically, mint is a symbol of hospitality. The Greeks and Romans would rub mint on banquet tables to greet their guests, and today, Moroccans are quick to offer a glass of mint tea as a gesture of friendship.
Both mint lemonade and mint tea are widely drunk throughout the Middle East and North Africa. They are both easy to make, healthy (as long as you are much more conservative with the sugar than they are in the Middle East), and de-licious!