Chocolate mint plant uses

Mint and chocolate? Why would you ever grow any other mint variety again? Chocolate mint is as chocolatey, minty and scrumptious as it sounds. You can bake it in cakes, add sprigs to mojitos, and even use it in your beauty recipes. But more on that later. You won’t regret picking up this herb at your local farmers market. When the sun warms its leaves, your garden will smell just like a peppermint patty. Yum! Get a plant now and enjoy chocolate mint goodness all summer long.

Tips for growing chocolate mint
Keep your chocolate mint in mint condition with a little gardening know-how.

1. Find the perfect location
Chocolate mint prefers cool temperatures. It needs sun, but doesn’t like extreme heat. Look for the sweet spot for growing chocolate mint: An area that gets a few hours of morning sun, but stays shady in the afternoon.

2. Tend to it every so often
Chocolate mint doesn’t need a lot of fuss. It mainly just likes its soil to stay moist. Water your chocolate mint regularly to keep it happy. Your plant will likely survive a few dry spells, but don’t let it dry out too often. Other than that, just let it grow!

3. Contain it—or watch out
Chocolate mint grows like a weed. It spreads quickly, forming creeping underground root systems and taking over your garden. Keep your chocolate mint in containers to prevent it from spreading. If you do want to plant your chocolate mint straight in the ground, use this method to keep it from taking over: Place the chocolate mint in a deep bottomless container and set the plant (container and all) into the ground. This will keep its roots from overrunning neighboring plants.

4. Regrow from cuttings
With mint, you definitely get your money’s worth. Chocolate mint will grow from cuttings from your original plant. Just snip off a stem and set the cutting in a pot of soil to regrow. (These regrown chocolate mint plans make sweet gifts.)

5. Get ready for next year
As a perennial plant, your chocolate mint will come back next year. The leaves will die during the winter, but the plant will be back. You’ll see shoots form the next spring. To prepare your plant for winter, mulch around the herb before the first frost.

Uses for chocolate mint
Head to your garden and harvest your chocolate mint for these scrumptious uses.

6. Make the best tea ever
Fill your mug a little less than half way full with fresh chocolate mint leaves. Pour boiling water over the leaves and let your tea steep for a few minutes. Spoon out the leaves and enjoy an aromatic chocolate mint tea straight from your garden. Add a splash of chocolate soy or almond milk for a little more indulgence.

7. Add it to anything chocolate
Mix chocolate mint into just about anything where you’d use chocolate. Add it to cakes, muffins, cookies, pies…Everyone will be wondering about your secret ingredient. You’ll certainly be known as the baking queen (or king!).

8. Whip up ice cream
Made without chocolate or food coloring, this Fresh Chocolate Mint Ice Cream recipe is pretty special. The starring ingredient? Chocolate mint, of course. Get ready to scoop up with rich, creamy chocolate mint ice cream. You won’t be able to put your spoon down. You might even lick the bowl.

9. Mojitos! (Is there really anything else to say?)
Chocolate. Mojitos. Why have we gone so long without trying this cocktail? Simply substitute chocolate mint leaves for the spearmint in our recipe for a mean organic mojito.

10. Make your own essential oil
Use the essence of chocolate mint any time of the year by making your own essential oil. You can then add it to your favorite homemade body scrub, facemask or other beauty products for a little chocolate indulgence. Follow these steps to make an essential oil.

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image: Kirsten Hudson

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Do you like the taste of chocolate and peppermint together? Then you should enjoy this easy chocolate mint extract recipe. It’s made in a similar manner to the vanilla, almond and lemon extracts. (Check out the other homemade extract recipes here.) I use the chocolate mint plant as the basis for my extract, but peppermint will also work in combination with cacao nibs.

Homemade extracts are great for holiday gift giving. The flavor gets stronger the longer you allow the extract to steep, so make sure to plan for at least 6 weeks of infusion. I haven’t purchased commercial mint extract in years.

You can use your homemade chocolate mint extract for all sorts of things. Add a little to your brownies, hot chocolate or hot chocolate eggnog, ice cream, homemade peppermint patties – use your imagination!

Easy Chocolate Mint Extract Recipe


80 Proof (40% alcohol by weight) vodka

Fresh chocolate mint leaves -OR- Fresh peppermint leaves

1 tablespoon of cacao nibs


Harvest mint in the morning after the dew has cleared. Remove any spoiled leaves and debris, rinse with cold water if needed and pat dry. Keep in mind that any excess water will dilute the extract and may lead to spoilage. Get your leaves nice and dry before chopping them for extract. We’ve have a LOT of rain here recently, so I didn’t bother with a rinse.

I snip off the tender tops, and then strip the rest of the mint leaves from the stem by running my hand from top to bottom. Chop the mint leaves coarsely to create more surface area. A little rough handling/smashing as you pack them in the jar also helps release the oils.

Place chopped mint leaves in a small jar, enough so that the jar is filled but there is still some room for the leaves to wiggle and the booze to fit in. (I used a recycled jam jar, but a cup or half cup canning jar would work well, too.)

Add 1 tablespoon of cacao nibs per cup jar for chocolate mint extract, if you are using peppermint leaves, or if you’d like to add a little more chocolate flavor to your chocolate mint.

Fill jar with vodka to cover the mint leaves. Place lid on jar. Store out of direct sunlight, stirring or shaking daily, for 6-8 weeks. Longer is better if you have the time.

Strain out the mint leaves and cacao nibs with a fine mesh strainer, cheesecloth or flour sack towel. Store in a dark bottle out of direct sunlight.

Experiment with Other Mint Extracts

You can use a similar method with whatever sort of mint you have on hand. (I do think catmint might taste a little funny.) Spearmint, gingermint and applemint would be lovely, I’m sure. (There are over 600 varieties of mint, so you have a lot of options.) Don’t have fresh mint? You can also make mint extract with dried mint. Can’t find chocolate mint at your local nursery? Via the wonder of the internet, you can order a chocolate mint plant online.

Once you’ve established an herb garden, or even tucked in a few herb plants here and there (many of mine are free range, like chickens, and wander around the yard), you can enjoy years of harvests. Mints do like to spread, so plant them in a pot, or where they have plenty of room to grow or where you can mow around them to keep them in check. I made up this extract after we had already had our first fall frosts. (These plants are tough.) On the same day I filled the dehydrator with chocolate mint, catnip and spearmint. (Chocolate mint makes wonderful herbal tea!)

What’s your favorite low maintenance herb, and how do you like to use it? It’s always a pleasure to exchange information and get new ideas from our readers.

You may also find useful:

  • How to Make Liquid Sweetener from Homegrown Stevia – Homemade Stevia Extract
  • How to Make Homemade Extracts – Vanilla, Lemon and Almond
  • Apple Scrap Vinegar – Get More Out of Your Apple Harvest

7 Creative Uses for Chocolate Mint


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Chocolate mint is an easy to grow perennial that once you plant it, you will find yourself with an abundance of it. It smells just like the name suggests, like minty chocolate, and smells good enough to eat! If you grow chocolate mint or are considering it, take a look at these 7 creative uses for chocolate mint that you must try! You will find that it’s a really practical and delicious herb to grow. Here is what you need to know:

1. Use it as a dessert garnish.

Chocolate mint is safe for food use as long as it has been grown without chemicals and is washed well. You can use it to top your cakes, cookies, and cupcakes as it offers some nice color and even adds to the aroma of the dessert.

2. Add it to shakes and ice cream.

Chocolate mint is a wonderful addition to your homemade shakes and ice cream. The oils in the plant can add a minty flavor and chocolate aroma that is heavenly. Be sure you only use mint that has been grown without chemicals and is rinsed well.

3. Freeze it in ice cubes.

Fancy up your beverages and add flavor at the same time when you freeze chocolate mint leaves in ice cubes. They will give the cubes some color and add flavor as they melt. This is an excellent idea to try when you’re throwing a garden party or shower. You can also add it to homemade popsicles as well.

4. Add it to your cocktails.

Chocolate mint is perfect for adding to your cocktails that require muddled mint. Mojitos taste even better when you add some fresh mint, and chocolate mint will get the job done and add a unique twist to the drink as well. Also, you can garnish any drink with a fresh chocolate mint sprig!

5. Make mint infused oil.

You can let chocolate mint leaves and stems soak in a bottle of almond or coconut oil to make your own mint infused oil. You can then use it as a massage oil (mint will cause slight tingles and warmness, be advised) or even add it to dessert recipes or a type of fruit salad.

6. Mix it in with your homemade bath products.

You can add chocolate mint to any of your homemade body scrubs, body butters, or other homemade bath products. Just muddle the mint or dry it and add it. You will not only get the benefits of mint but it will leave a wonderful scent too.

7. Dry it for crafting.

You can use dried mint leaves in your crafting as well. Try adding it to homemade candles, lotions, potpourri and more. It will add a lovely fragrance and some fresh color as well. To dry your mint just tie it into a bundle and hang it in a cool dark place until it’s dry.

Are you ready to put chocolate mint to work for you? Give these 7 ideas a try and see how useful it really is!

4.5 from 4 votes Jump to Recipe Published April 16, 2013 – Last Updated January 26, 2020

Last year, I traveled to San Francisco to film a historical cooking TV segment. I was in need of a kitchen and ended up stayed at the Fairmont Ghirardelli, an apartment-like hotel in the heart of Ghirardelli Square. After I finished my cooking preparations I had some spare time, so I took a walk in the square. Even though I was in the city for work, the beautiful surroundings transported me. Ghirardelli Square was enchanting… the brick walls, the outdoor fire pits, the smell of chocolate wafting on the ocean breeze. It felt like an immediate escape from the hustle and bustle of my daily life. I stopped at the Ghirardelli Shop to buy some chocolate and learn about the history of this very special place.

Domenico “Domingo” Ghirardelli set up shop in several San Francisco locations before finally settling in the factory that is still used today. What drew him, and many other merchants, to the area was the California Gold Rush and the promise of a fresh start in America. As a young boy in Rapallo, Italy, Ghirardelli was introduced to the art of chocolate and confectionery while apprenticing a local candy maker. This would prove to be the start of his lifelong work in the chocolate trade. At 20, he left Italy for South America, where he had more opportunities to work with chocolate. Ghirardelli’s fate was sealed when he set up shop in Peru next door to James Lick, the American owner of a cabinet shop, who became his friend. When Lick decided to leave Peru for San Francisco in January of 1848, he brought 600 pounds of Ghirardelli’s chocolate along for the ride. Lick couldn’t have picked a better time to go to San Francisco; an influx of gold mining fortune-seekers began to arrive at almost exactly the same time. When Ghirardelli received word of this, he left Peru a year later to join Lick in California. Upon his arrival, he set up a general store inside a tent where he supplied locals with dried goods, including chocolate.

Ghirardelli’s second shop, located at the corner of Broadway and Battery in San Francisco, was destroyed on May 3, 1851 in a series of fires that devastated many San Francisco buildings. In September of 1851 he opened Cairo Coffee House, though it was not ultimately successful.

Finally, in 1852, Ghirardelli found lasting success when he opened his new company – Ghirardely & Girard at Kearny and Washington streets in San Francisco. It was home to what would become the thriving chocolate business we know and love today. Due to his success, Ghirardelli was able to send for his family in Peru. After several more moves and a very important spelling change to his name, the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company took over the former Pioneer Woolen Mills on North Point Street in 1893. This location is still home to Ghirardelli; it is now known as the Ghirardelli Chocolate Manufactory & Soda Fountain in the heart of Ghirardelli Square. In 1923, when two additional floors were added to the four-story “Cocoa Building,” a base was created for a 15-foot illuminated Ghirardelli sign. It is visible to every ship that passes beneath the Golden Gate Bridge. There is also an illuminated sign on an archway over the square. In 1982, the landmark was granted National Historic Register status.

I could have lingered in Ghirardelli Square for days, tasting chocolate and inhaling that crisp ocean air…alas, my trip only lasted one night, and it was back to work the next day. The whole trip came back to me when I received a box from Ghirardelli filled with a lovely surprise—samples of all the flavors in their new Intense Dark chocolate line.

Every bar of Intense Dark has its own unique essence, from hazelnut to sea salt to toffee. As I tasted my way through the samples (I love my job!), I came upon their Twilight Delight chocolate. It’s a medium dark chocolate; it contains 72% cacao and has a perfectly balanced sweetness, opening up my mind to a world of possibilities. I felt inspired to create a simple dessert that would allow the chocolate’s pure flavor to shine. While mulling it over, I started reminiscing about San Francisco… walking through Ghirardelli Square, breathing in the brisk ocean air, and savoring bite after bite of delicious chocolate.

Then it came to me. Fresh mint leaves, dipped in Twilight Delight Intense Dark chocolate, then frozen… sweet, bite-sized delights. I’d seen the idea a while back on Martha Stewart’s website, but hadn’t yet tried it myself. These simple treats are the natural version of a peppermint patty. The crisp flavors of fresh mint and chilled, sweet Intense Dark chocolate are a perfect pairing. I served them at a recent dinner party to family and friends. We allowed them to melt in our mouths, cleansing our palates with cooling sweetness. It was the perfect way to end our meal … a lovely escape. Breathe deep, relax, and enjoy!

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Baking Sheet

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Dark Chocolate Mint Leaves

4.5 from 4 votes Servings
35 servings Prep Time
10 minutes Cook Time
30 minutes Kosher Key
Dairy Total Time
40 minutes Calories 17 kcal Print Recipe


Natural bite-sized mint dessert. Large fresh mint leaves frozen in Ghirardelli Twilight Delight Intense Dark Chocolate.


  • 1 bunch large, unblemished mint leaves (you’ll need about 35 leaves total)
  • 1 bar Ghirardelli Intense Dark Twilight Delight chocolate

Recipe Notes

Adapted from

You will also need: baking sheet, parchment paper


  1. These fresh mint leaves will only stay fresh-looking for about 5 hours, and should be served straight out of the freezer, so plan your preparations accordingly.

  2. Assemble your mint sprigs. Rinse them clean with cold water, then pat them thoroughly dry with paper towels. Cut the largest, sturdiest leaves from the stems. You’ll need about 35 large leaves.

  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Break the chocolate bar into pieces, place in a heat-safe dish, and melt chocolate in the microwave on 50% power for 1-2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, till melted and smooth. Dip the mint leaves into the melted chocolate one by one, covering 3/4 of each leaf with chocolate.

  4. As each leaf is dipped, place it on the parchment-lined baking sheet. When all of the leaves have been dipped, place the baking sheet into the freezer for 30 minutes till chocolate is firm and chilled, up to 5 hours.

  5. Serve dark chocolate mint leaves straight from the freezer on a chilled plate.

  6. You can also use the leaves as a creative topping for ice cream. Serve immediately; don’t allow them to sit at room temperature for long. Enjoy!

Nutrition Facts Dark Chocolate Mint Leaves Amount Per Serving Calories 17 Calories from Fat 9 % Daily Value* Fat 1g2% Potassium 20mg1% Carbohydrates 1g0% Vitamin A 5IU0% Calcium 2mg0% Iron 0.3mg2% * Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

This post was sponsored by Ghirardelli Intense Dark Chocolate. Create your own escape by checking out Ghirardelli’s Pairing Page.

Thank you for supporting my sponsors, they allow me to share more free recipes, crafts and food history with you!

Which herbs should you start from seeds?

You can experiment and find out on your own…

…or you can read the rest of this post and save yourself the hassle.

If you want to save time and energy, continue reading.

Some herbs require too much of your time

There definitely is something fun about starting from seed. You get to take care of the seedling and watch it grow until you finally use. Like a child of yours.

No doubt on that.

But there are some herbs that are too much work and require too much of your precious time to start from seed and you’re better off buying transplants.

This is especially true because we are urban gardening in small spaces like our apartments and in containers. We have to maximize our space.

The herbs that experts say you shouldn’t start from seed

Bay Leaf
“Bay is extremely difficult to germinate because they must be fresh and viable, and must be stratified and kept moist,” said Briscoe White, the owner of an herb company. “That’s one of the reasons bays are in such high demand- they’re hard to find because they’re hard to germinate, have a low germination rate and grow extremely slowly.”

“Lavender can be a little tricky because they’re both very slow growing from seed, which can lead to problems with disease or fungus, since the young plants are so susceptible,” said the White. “Lavender also is very finicky with moisture and because of its slow growth can be difficult to keep healthy.”

Flavored Mints
“Many kinds of flavored mints, like chocolate mint or orange mint, can’t be started from seed, only from cuttings,” said Fern from Life on the Balcony. “This is because they’re hybrid varieties that don’t come true to form when grown from seed.”

Rosemary is much like lavender and, “It can be frustrating to grow from seed because there are so many varieties,” said the White. “To ensure that you get a true variety, you’re best to take a cutting and propagate from that, rather than seed.”

“Rosemary is so much easier to start from a cutting or from a plant bought at the nursery,” added Fern.

White Sage
“White Sage is also difficult to germinate as it has a 10-15% germination rate and on top of that, just takes a lot of time to get growing,” said the owner. “The viability is so low, that we end up placing 10-12 seeds per cell to try to get enough plants to sprout.”

Where you can buy these herbs

You can get these herbs from

  • Your local nursery
  • A cutting from a friend

Sound off

What herbs are you growing or want to start growing?

Urban Harvester: Mint

Check in weekly, on Wednesdays, to read our new post on gardening, harvesting, and making use of that fine, extra-local produce! We’ll share tips and techniques, gleaned from our urban farms and gardens. Email [email protected] with any topics you’d like us to cover.

Mint can be an especially rewarding plant to grow in the garden. It’s a versatile herb, with plenty of flavors and uses, and it’s a perennial, which means it comes back every year. It grows lush and spreads in a variety of environments…and there lies its downfall too! Mint can quickly take over and spread to areas where it’s not wanted.

Mint spreads primarily by rhizomes, which means by the roots. As the roots spread, they sprout a stems and leaves and eventually become their own plants. So to keep the mint plant from spreading all over the garden, the roots need to be contained.

Chocolate mint seedlings for sale at the Frick greenhouse.

Growing Conditions

Unlike most of its vegetable and herb counterparts, mint can grow in full sun or in partial shade. So choosing a partially shady location can help you make use of an area that otherwise wouldn’t be a great spot for edible gardening. Mint prefers to have “wet feet,” so keep it well-watered and mulch to retain soil moisture. Like most edible plants, mint prefers fertile soil.

Growing methods

So, what are the best ways to grow mint without it taking over the garden? Here are a few tips:

  • Plant in a container. Mint, like most herbs, grows well in a container. You can bring the pot in over the winter, or leave outside in a protected area, as mint is very hardy. (Be aware that terra cotta will begin to disintegrate if left out over the winter.) Every couple of years, the mint will need to be removed from the container and divided, as the roots will begin to take up the entire pot.
  • Cut the bottom out of a container, sink it into the ground, and plant mint inside it. This method simply creates a barrier all around the plant, limiting its growth. Be sure to check in occasionally to trim back any stems that might be lying on the ground, forming roots outside of the container.
  • Plant mint in a separate section of the garden that is surrounded by barriers. A barrier could be lawn (some mint may spread into a lawn but thick grass will usually keep mint at bay), sidewalk, patio, deep shade, sand, gravel, a sunken plastic or wooden bed edging.

It’s also important to note that mint should be obtained as a plant, rather than as seeds. Mint may not “come true,” or be the type you were hoping for if you grow it from seed.

This mint overwintered at the Dillworth Edible Schoolyard garden.

Varieties and Uses

Mint is used to flavor foods and beverages and is used medicinally to treat digestive woes. Mints fall into two main culinary groups:

Spearmint has a milder flavor and is used often in culinary dishes as well as in beverages, tea, and to flavor gum. These mints are in the spearmint family:

  • Spearmint
  • Apple mint
  • Pineapple mint
  • Curly mint
  • Smooth leaf mint

Peppermint has a strong, intense flavor, as it contains menthol. It’s used to flavor candies like candy canes, as well as to make peppermint tea and breath mints. These mints are in the peppermint family:

  • Peppermint
  • Chocolate mint
  • Orange mint
  • Ginger mint
  • Grapefruit mint

Harvesting Mint

After the plant has become established in its location (it should have several new stems or increased in size since planting), simply trim the stems to harvest usable mint. Think of harvesting as pruning; at the location where you clip the stem, the plant will develop new, branching stems. Mint that is flowering can be harvested and used but won’t have the same intensity of flavor. To harvest mint for garnishes, trim the very top clusters of leaves from the plant.


English Peas with Mint

Hot or Iced Spearmint Tea

Fresh Peppermint Tea

Fresh Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

Categories: Urban Harvester

5 uses for chocolate mint:

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Chocolate Mint- Good For Much More Than Tea!

Did you know that there’s a plant that is nearly impossible to kill, grows abundantly, and has a myriad of uses? Sound good? It sure did to me! For a $2 investment, I’ve been enjoying these benefits for the past few years.

I’m all about multi-use items. If I can buy a product for a low cost and continue to use it, year after year, I’m a pretty satisfied customer.

Chocolate mint has been one of those treasured purchases for me. I have discovered many practical uses for this plant, so I use it abundantly. Not only is Chocolate Mint easy to grow, but it is hard to kill. It is an herbal plant, but NO GREEN THUMB is required. I promise!

Five or six years ago I stumbled upon a Chocolate Mint plant while browsing the herb section at a local nursery. Intrigued by the name, I purchased a small 4-inch pot for about $2.00. My purchase was made in springtime, and by early summer I had more than an abundance of Chocolate Mint!

If you can’t find a plant locally, have no fear, you can purchase seeds and have them delivered to your door!

1. Hot Herbal Tea

Chocolate Mint makes the best fresh herbal tea ever! Just clip enough leaves to half fill your cup. Place the tea leaves into a tea strainer, add strainer to the cup, pour in boiling water and steep for at least five minutes. Remove tea strainer and sip the most amazingly refreshing tea!

Want a little more creamy and chocolatey flavor? Just add a couple of tablespoons of chocolate almond, coconut, or soy milk. This is my all-time favorite! I call it “hot chocolate mint tea.” Delicious! (And if you crave chocolate, this will give you a healthful and low-calorie fix.)

2. Sweet Chocolate Mint Tea

Add chopped chocolate mint to a tea strainer. Add the tea strainer to a half-gallon jug, along with 2 Luzianne family-sized tea bags. Pour boiling water over the tea. Steep for 20 minutes. Remove tea bags and strainer. Sweeten with your choice of 4 dropper-fulls of liquid chocolate Stevia or 1/2 cup sugar. Fill a jug with cold water. Refrigerate until cold. Serve over ice.

3. Palate cleanser and food digestion

Added to an after-dinner green salad, Chocolate Mint makes an interesting palate cleanser that will actually aid in food digestion. Dare I say? When eaten regularly, it can even eliminate or greatly diminish the foul smell of some naturally occurring gaseous body odors.

Ladies, this can be extremely beneficial, if like me, you have a house full of males. Yes, I will personally testify to the truth of this claim! I hide it in salads for this very reason. Shhhh, let this be our little secret.

4. Bug and rodent repellent

Mint plants, including my cherished Chocolate Mint, have been said to repel flies, fleas, mosquitoes, ants, mice, and rats. Because of this, I keep a pot of mint by my swing growing right along with my lavender and purple petunias. I also grow some by my chicken coop. Since I have recently placed a couple of pots on my back patio, there has been a notable decrease in mosquitos there.

5. Great Gift

Because chocolate mint multiplies easily, it is a great plant for gifting. Have a tea-loving friend? Pot one of the runners, and share the tea! Having a tea party? Once your plant is established, you can plant enough Chocolate Mint starters for all your guests! For added charm, plant them in a tea-pot or tea-cup. Your guests will be delighted.

Now, this hardy plant is wonderful, but there are a few tips and tricks I need to share with you!

A few notes on caring for your Chocolate Mint plant:

Be sure to have plenty of room for your mint plant to grow. The plant sends out runners and will quickly take over a garden area. It makes a beautiful ground cover if you have the room. If you’d rather contain the plant, you’ll need to plant it in a container and keep it trimmed.

If you’d like to bulk harvest your chocolate mint, do so by waiting until just before the plant blooms. This will ensure the most intense flavor. Cut the whole plant to just above the first or second set of leaves. You’ll be removing the yellowing lower leaves, which will promote bushier growth. You should be able to bulk harvest in this manner three times per season.

To dry your chocolate mint, clean it as needed after harvesting. Spread the leaves into a single layer on cookie sheets. Bake in a pre-heated 170*F oven for 2-3 hours. Remove from oven, allow to cool completely. Crumble leaves into a glass storage jar, preferably storing this jar in a cool, dark place.

Looking for more uses for mint and other teas that you can grow? I found this great book and have it on my book wishlist! Growing Your Own Tea Garden: The Guide to Growing and Harvesting Flavorful Teas in Your Backyard!

I hope that I’ve inspired you to go out and pick up your own $2 Chocolate Mint plant and get it planted! If you have more uses for this excellent garden addition, I’d love for you to share them here!

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Grow Your Own Chocolate – Chocolate Mint, That Is!

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Add some chocolate to your diet and garden without adding all those calories.

Chocolate mint is an easy to grow plant with a strong minty fragrance and flavor topped off with a hint of chocolate. It makes the perfect garnish for desserts and as an ingredient in tea, ice cream, mojitos and anything chocolate.

Like most mints this is an aggressive plant. Grow it in a pot on your patio, deck or porch to keep it accessible and contained. Place your pot of mint in full sun or partial shade. It prefers cool moist soils, but as most gardeners have discovered, it tolerates a variety of conditions.

Harvest leaves and sprigs of your chocolate mint as needed throughout the season. Don’t be timid – the more you harvest the more new stems and leaves will be produced. This fresh new growth has the best flavor.

Store sprigs of fresh mint in a glass of water or dry and wrap in plastic in the refrigerator.

A bit more information: Make larger harvests for drying and freezing just as the flowers begin to appear. You’ll get the greatest concentration of flavor. Larger harvests will not weaken the plant. Watch for fresh new growth and continue to harvest as needed.

It began as a simple assignment: find a little information about chocolate mint and report back. It’s a common-enough herb, available at the farmers’ market. Like most mint, it will overrun a garden given half a chance. But we wanted to know more: What might one do with chocolate mint in the kitchen? Where does chocolate mint come from? Why does it smell like chocolate? Wait—it smells like chocolate, right? It’s in the name. Obviously it smells like chocolate.

It turns out there is not widespread agreement on this point.

Chocolate mint is a cultivar of peppermint, a cultivar being a strain cultivated specifically for a few desirable characteristics—in the case of chocolate mint, the pretty brown hue of its stems and an aroma that’s been compared to Andes mints (the chocolate-peppermint candy that your grandparents liked to keep in the fridge for when you visited as a kid). But does it actually smell like chocolate? Is it really any different than regular peppermint? We asked the experts.

Argument: Chocolate Mint Is as Real as Santa Claus

The co-author of The Culinary Herbal: Growing and Preserving 97 Colorful Herbs, longtime herb expert Susan Belsinger claims that chocolate mint is just one big nothingburger of an herb. (Okay, I’m paraphrasing here.)

“It doesn’t really deserve to be listed under its own classification,” she says. It’s just peppermint putting on airs. Just a common old plant with good marketing.

“It’s only in your head that the hint of chocolate is there,” Belsinger says. Peppermint, spearmint, chocolate mint: pick up any of them and close your eyes and sniff, she suggests. Because of mint’s affinity for chocolate, because of the way they pair so well together, you can imagine that any of them might contain a note of chocolate. But in its morphology, in its chemical makeup, Belsinger says, chocolate mint is nothing special.

Argument: Chocolate Mint is Real—If You Just Believe

Richters, a Canadian nursery that sells chocolate mint, is open with customers about the controversy surrounding the herb.

“For years we resisted offering chocolate mint because we were convinced the ‘chocolateness’ was a figment of someone’s imagination,” the Richters website reads. “But customers continued to insist that there is such a thing and brought us plants to prove it. As we suspected, most are pretty much the same as true peppermint, but one strain surprised us. Hard to pin down as truly ‘chocolate’, but its clean fragrance of peppermint is overlaid by something else that adds up to a striking ‘peppermint patty’ scent. A real treat for discriminating noses!”

Chocolate mint’s fans include Shannon Algiere, the herbs and flowers manager at the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, who orders the herb from Richters and says she finds it slightly different in flavor from the other peppermint she grows. Algiere acknowledges that the perceived chocolate notes might be imaginary, but says she is nonetheless “willing to embrace the poetry of chocolate mint” and is “open to the adventure of its suggestive deliciousness.”

Argument: Is Anything Really Real? Does It Even Matter? Let’s Just Have Dessert

Whether you call it chocolate mint or just plain peppermint, the herb is ideal for sweeter applications—its “mentholated coolness,” Belsinger speculates, might be the reason it brings chocolate to mind. (Spearmint, by contrast, contains little menthol.) Algiere likes it in tea, and Belsinger puts it in lemonade. (I’d put it in a julep.) Infuse it in some cream before you make truffles. Make this mint sugar with it and whip up a batch of brownies. Chocolate mint may or may not be real, but it’s definitely delicious.

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