I love growing my own herbs, so when I saw a chocolate mint in my local garden centre, I though I would give it a go! It was very easy to plant and look after - it practically doesn't need any help.
Chocolate Mint is a medium growing mint reaching up to 60cm tall, but it can spread quite a bit. The large ovate leaves are a bronze – dark green, with deep reddish-purple stems.
It is called chocolate mint, but the aroma and flavour are not always recognisable. I can detect the mint with a hint of chocolate, but my husband can only taste the mint. Not sure whether my palet is more sensitive or whether after years of working with chocolate I can taste chocolate in everything.
How to grow chocolate mint
Chocolate mint develops its best colour growing in a full sun, but can take part shade. It is happy in most soil types and likes moist areas in the garden. I grow mine in a raised herb garden, which is mainly sunny and the plan seems to be doing just fine.
Chocolate Mint is quite fast growing plant and spreads by sending roots out underground and on the soils surface. It is best kept contained within large containers or secure garden beds. Like many of the mints it can easily take over the garden, if not kept contained or cut back regularly. Because of that chocolate mint is very easy to propagate, which is easily done by dividing large plant into several smaller ones.
How to use chocolate mint
I prefer to keep mine chocolate mint herb growing in the garden all year round and just pinch a few leaves when I need to. But you can easily cut hard the plant several times a year and harvest the leaves by drying. To dry your chocolate mint leaves, just leave them on a clean paper sheet somewhere dry and warm, but not on direct sunlight. Once dry, just keep them in a paper bag and store out of the direct light in a dry cupboard.
Chocolate mint, like other mints can help with minor ailments and digestive disorders.
Chocolate mint is of course perfect to use in kitchen - both for baking or cooking. The flavour is mostly of peppermint, with subtle chocolate undertones. It may be used to garnish meat, stews, sauces, soups and other meals. This mint adds an interesting flavour to breads and other creative bakes.
Of course, chocolate mint it is particularly useful for garnishing desserts and for supplementing the ingredients in chocolate desserts. For example, chocolate mint ice cream, chocolate mousse, chocolate brownies or chocolate mint slices. You can also add it to any drinks that have a chocolate or minty flavour, such as hot chocolate. Many people add chocolate mint to other varieties of tea and even coffee, as well as making herbal tea.
The easiest way to make chocolate mint tea is to gather few fresh leaves, put them in a tea cup and pour over boiling water. Leave to infuse for 3-5 minutes. Drink as it is or add a square of plain chocolate to develop the chocolate flavour even further. As with most herbal teas, it's best drank without milk.
Hope you've enjoyed my little diversion from kitchen to garden and do let me know how you get on with your own chocolate mint plant.