Why You Shouldn't Bother Trying To Substitute Dried Mint With Tea

Fresh or dried mint is a must when making a classic mint jelly, spiced honey mint lamb skewers, or a mint dressing for your lentil fattoush salad. The sweet, yet cool, flavor this herb adds to dishes cannot be easily replicated. But if you are cooking with mint and need to make a substitution call, skip the dried mint tea leaves. It may seem like an easy swap, but you will be disappointed in your results because dried mint and mint tea leaves are quite different in taste. This is because mint tea leaves utilize peppermint which is quite different from the taste herby mint imparts on recipes.

The mint family has over 3,500 members and all mints aren't created equal. This is the case with the peppermint used in your tea and the spearmint which is generally the herb you are cooking with. Peppermint is warm, spicy, and pungent because it is 40% menthol, making it perfect for candy canes. Spearmint, on the other hand, contains just .5% menthol, meaning it will have a mild sweetness.

Mint substitutions

For this reason, you want to leave your dried tea leaves in your cup of tea and not in your recipes. So, what can you use if you are in a bind and without fresh or dried mint leaves? Believe it or not, flat parsley, cilantro, thyme, and oregano can stand in for fresh mint, depending on the recipe. None of these will give you that same subtle sweetness that mint adds, but cilantro's spicy and citrusy notes can work in savory dishes. Flat parsley has a fresh neutral flavor that can work in dishes where mint plays a minor role. 

When it comes to dried swaps, thyme is a great substitute for minty salad dressings, and oregano's sweetness can pinch hit for mint in a tabouleh salad or even for a new spin on hummus. These herbs will definitely change the taste of your final product, but in a delicious way that will keep you eating.