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Habek mint has long, narrow, grey-green leaves that are soft, mildly hairy, and oblong in shape. The leaves measure up to 2 centimeters in width, by 4 to 10 centimeters in length. The Habek mint plant produces edible lilac, purple or white flowers that grow in dense clusters on the tips of the elongated stems. Habek mint is very aromatic with a strong camphor scent, and offers a sharp peppermint flavor.
Habek mint is available year-round, with a peak season in the summer and fall months.
Habek mint is botanically classified as Mentha longifolia, and belongs to the large mint family of Lamiaceae. It may also be called Wild mint, Silver mint, and Horse mint. Thanks to its aromatic leaves, Habek mint is a great natural pesticide, and is often grown near cabbages and tomatoes. Use care when handling the plant as its secreted oils may cause skin irritation.
Habek mint contains essential minerals such as sodium, calcium, phosphorous, zinc and magnesium. It also contains a high amount of volatile oils, which have antiseptic properties. Habek mint is used medicinally throughout the world, most commonly for respiratory and digestive issues, and the essential oil derived from the mint is known to have stimulating, anti–asthmatic, antiseptic and antispasmodic properties.
Habek mint can be used fresh or dried. In the Middle East, the fresh leaves are used in salads, chutneys, and relishes. Habek mint is a key ingredient in the traditional salad, tabbouli – a dish of bulgar wheat, lemon juice, salt, pepper, parsley, and mint, along with vegetables such as cucumber. Habek mint leaves are commonly used to make tea, and the peppermint-tasting oil of the plant may be used to flavor sweets. Habek mint may be substituted in dishes that call for the use of spearmint. Habek mint can be stored dried in an airtight container, or fresh in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Habek mint is thought to be the species of mint that is referred to in the Bible’s New Testament, where it was used as a currency along with anise and cumin. Thus, Habek mint is also referred to as Bible mint.
Habek mint is found throughout Europe, the Mediterranean, Asia, and North and South Africa. The exact origins of Habek mint are unknown, although it is believed that it was originally cultivated in the Middle East. The Habek mint plant grows in various climates, from woodlands to deserts to aquatic habitats. Like other mints, Habek mint prefers warm, sunny days but cooler nights.