There is something in this word that conjures up contradiction. Let me do some explaining.
Think of a few leaves of peppermint in a jug of Pimms. To my own complete satisfaction, I once pulled some leaves fresh from the cracks between the paving stones in my back garden and added them straight to the jug.
Then imagine someone breathing spearmint over you on the tube.
Fresh mint chopped into a saucepan of boiled potatoes with a dab of butter: my grandmother had a clever little metal device into which you fed in the mint, held the machine over the hot potatoes and wound a wooden handle. Out would come the mint: battered, bruised and shredded.
On holiday in France, some friends had been sitting outside a bar and seen someone drinking something bright green. "Menthe a l'eau", the waiter explained when they pointed to it and asked. "Like toothpaste water", my friend Kate said. I insisted on trying ot for myself and grew a taste for it, very cold in a tall glass with ice, the syrup curling oilily around the water.