Gemma Harris drank peppermint tea every day for a week to find out if it really does tame our tummies — that’s if you can stomach it!
As I tentatively sip the yellow coloured liquid from my mug, I try not to think about the fact it resembles the colour of someone’s urine. I think this is quite possibly the hardest thing I have put myself through for my stomach yet! It is only the strong, fresh minty smell that reassures me I am definitely drinking peppermint tea. My claims may sound silly and dramatic, but I’m really not a fan of the herbal beverage. Why am I torturing myself then you may be wondering? Well, because of the gut health benefits the tea is known to provide.
Online recipe site The Spruce Eats claim peppermint tea soothes an upset stomach, relieves stomach pains, cramps and flatulence as well as promoting healthy digestion. For this reason, it is even sometimes referred to as “the stomach healer.”
They continue, peppermint oil has been shown to effectively treat Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and for this reason, many healthcare practitioners believe that drinking peppermint tea regularly may help with the condition.
“Animal studies indicate that peppermint relaxes your digestive system and may ease pain. It also prevents smooth muscles from contracting, which could relieve spasms in your gut,” add wellness expert Healthline.
I have also been advised to drink it by my doctor, but have continually put it off due to the fear of its acquired taste. But with the post-Christmas bloat looming from overindulging during the festive period, the day has finally come when I feel I should give it a go. It sounds like this tea works wonders and at least if it doesn’t work for me, I will end up with minty fresh breath! Is peppermint tea a true stomach healer?
So, my trial began a couple of days later than planned as I caught a rather nasty cold. Full of congestion, my intended peppermint tea drink became replaced with a blackcurrant Lemsip – there wasn’t much difference as I can’t stand those either.
When I finally did feel well enough to embark on my challenge, it was 10.45pm on the second Thursday of 2020. I followed The Spruce Eats’ advice to drink it after dinner and before bed as this is when it can be particularly effective if you have eaten late or have the onset of stomach discomfort. Plus, the tea is caffeine-free which means it can be enjoyed at any time of the day.
As I open the box, then the tinfoil packet and pull a tea bag out, I cannot help but grimace. I’m really not looking forward to this. Surprisingly, the teabag smells very fresh, and dare I say it, even quite pleasant. I place it in my mug, pour hot water from the kettle on top and brew it for the 2-minute minimum time suggestion — there is no way I want it to taste too strong. Once I have disposed of the tea bag, I take it up to bed to sip while I read a book; I am hopeful that reading will distract me from any unpleasantness. Psyching myself up for the first sip, I bring the mug towards me. It certainly smells very strong. I swallow the smallest mouthful as I chuckle at the thought that it feels a bit like a bush tucker trial. Time for sip two… not as dreadful, quite soothing in a way. Perhaps its unique flavour will just take some getting used to. Dragging out the time between each sip, the tea ends up going cold and then it is even worse! Let’s just say I don’t manage the whole cup. Let’s see what benefits it brings and try again tomorrow.
Days two — three
Coincidentally or not, my stomach has felt more settled this morning. However, by the evening and after dinner, I begin feeling bloated so I definitely want to drink it to see if it will help ease my symptoms. The first sip on the second night doesn’t seem so bad. Could I be getting used to it already? My mom who has a liking for weird and wonderful tastes has a sniff and asks to try some. Of course, she likes it and takes another sip. “Ooh, I might have to start drinking that!” she exclaims, “I can feel it soothing my stomach.” At least one of us is enjoying it and I know who I can donate any leftover tea bags to if this doesn’t work out. For me, it still seems to taste worse with every sip, but I manage to drink the whole cup so that’s progress at least. Only five more days to go.
Okay, so it’s Saturday 11 January at 11.15pm and time for another cup. My tummy has felt unsettled after dinner tonight, so I’m once again hopeful that the tea will help. As I go to remove the tea bag from the mug, it surprises me that I may have become acclimatised to the overpowering smell as I forget it is even peppermint tea that I am making. Even more surprisingly, I am able to take quite big gulps without turning my nose up; it actually feels quite soothing and comforting before bed.
Days four — seven
I have to say, this morning I wouldn’t have even known I was bloated last night, so it’s definitely worth continuing my personal trial. Although, I can’t say I am enthusiastic about drinking peppermint tea tonight, but yet again I feel bloated after dinner. After drinking tonight’s mug, I don’t really have many thoughts about it — it’s just like any other drink now.
Four days down and I’m not really feeling it tonight. Maybe it’s because it’s a Monday or maybe it’s because I ate too late. Either way, I struggle to finish the cupful today, but it will be interesting to see if it still soothes my stomach. I guess we all have off days.
On the last couple of days and feeling back to my ‘normal’ self, again I feel like I have been blown up with a bicycle pump so I need something to relieve my symptoms. Luckily, drinking it doesn’t bother me too much, it has almost become a habit where I wonder: “Ooh, is it peppermint tea time?”
On the final day — Wednesday 15 January — I can’t deny that I am not relieved it is the last time I have to consecutively drink peppermint tea, but this past week has definitely opened my eyes and as someone who goes to bed bloated more nights than not, I will definitely drink it when I feel I need to. I’ve learnt sometimes we have to make ourselves do things we don’t necessarily want in order to find a deeper benefit. This process started off feeling like the worst thing I have done, but has become a positive habit to develop for 2020.
Has peppermint tea helped your stomach? Do you like the taste? Get in touch.
Pick up some peppermint
Clipper Teas Organic Peppermint Refreshing Infusion
- Price: £1.45
- Where: order at shop.clipper-teas.com
Pukka Herbs Organic Three Mint Tea
- Price: £2.99
- Where: in store or online at Holland & Barrett
Pukka Herbs Organic Peppermint & Licorice
- Price: £2.99
- Where: in store or online at Holland & Barrett
Twinings Pure Peppermint
- Price: £1.70
- Where: in store or online at Sainsbury’s
The views expressed on the health benefits of peppermint tea are entirely my own and are not held by any of the brands mentioned.