Woman standing by a kitchen counter, having a cup of spearmint tea which helps with focus

Brain-Boosting Beverage: Spearmint Tea Recipe

Published: February 2021 | Updated: April 2022

What's your go-to when you need to focus? Many people turn to caffeine, especially from coffee. While many studies indicate coffee (and caffeine) can be beneficial to our health, they might not be the best option for everyone.

One issue with stimulants, such as caffeinated coffee, is that they may interfere with sleep, especially if consumed later in the afternoon and evening. And other people may not tolerate caffeine well. So what else is out there for those who need a boost?

It turns out that mint does more than improve your breath—it also may give your mental focus an edge. Scientists have developed FOCUS TEA™ (sugar-free and caffeine-free) spearmint powder extract that was shown in clinical trials to support aspects of mental cognition, such as working memory and attention.

Interesting fact: While this spearmint beverage is called a "tea," spearmint is not derived from Camellia sinensis, so it technically is not tea in the traditional sense. That doesn't mean it doesn't taste delicious, especially in the tasty recipe we share below!

What is spearmint?

Spearmint, or Mentha spicata, is a species of mint, similar in taste to peppermint, or Mentha peperita. You probably know spearmint from your gum, mouthwash, or toothpaste, or maybe you enjoy it in food (chocolate mint ice cream, anyone?) or as an essential oil. And just as spearmint refreshes your breath and your taste buds, and mint essential oils can lift your spirits after a long day, spearmint also can give your mental powers a "pick-me-up," when standardized into tea form.

2 ways spearmint tea benefits your brain

Young man drinking spearmint tea to stay focused

When we say spearmint tea may have cognitive health benefits, we're really talking about how this herbal beverage may influence memory...and we're not referring to whether you remember the name of your high school crush! Instead, spearmint, specifically the kind in FOCUS TEA™, appears to support memory in two very practical different ways:

  1. Staying on task:

    Spearmint supports your working memory, which is a part of your short-term memory that allows you to store information and manipulate it while working on another mental task. Controlled by the prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus, working memory helps maintain attention, focus and concentration and may enhance movement and reaction times.
  2. Knowing your way around:

    This type of mint tea also gives a boost to your spatial working memory, which is the ability to know where items are arranged in space, such as the layout of your house or how to get around town.

Both working memory and spatial working memory are necessary for fully functioning cognitive ability...all the more reason to drink mint tea when you want to harness your full mental powers!

Will any type of spearmint help my memory?

Bunch of spearmint with brain health benefits on a rustic cloth

Many people like to chew a piece of minty gum as they're hard at work…but unfortunately, no, not just any spearmint will do when it comes to memory support. The spearmint used in FOCUS TEA™ is actually a trademarked herb (Neumentix™) with an innovative profile of over 50 beneficial phenolic compounds. One of these herbal compounds, or "phenols," is rosmarinic acid, which is also in the herb rosemary, and it has clinically studied benefits for your attention and focus.

To be fair, spearmint in other products and foods (including spearmint flavored tea bags you'll find in the grocery store) also contains rosmarinic acid…but not at the same potency as a cup of FOCUS TEA™. That's because this high-rosmarinic acid-containing herbal beverage contains spearmint extract in a powdered form that has been standardized to ensure you'll receive a beneficial dosage of the active compounds found in spearmint.

Bonus: FOCUS TEA™ happens to be refreshing and delicious, especially when prepared using the following recipe!

Neumentix™ is a trademark of Kemin Industries, Inc.

Brain Boost in a Cup: Mint Tea Recipe

A cup of spearmint tea with honey and lemon

Spearmint tea has been shown to be a great option to support mental focus and offers benefits beyond the immediate boost. And without caffeine, this herbal tea recipe is a great choice for an afternoon pick-me-up.

Ingredients

Dairy-free, sugar-free, caffeine-free, gluten-free

  • 8 oz. of hot water
  • 1 stick pack (1 g) FOCUS TEA™ spearmint powder
  • Lemon wedge for flavor and a slice for garnish
  • Fresh mint leaves
  • 1-2 tsp honey (or a sugar free substitute)

Preparation

  1. Boil water.
  2. Pour FOCUS TEA™ powder into 8 oz. cup of hot water and stir until dissolved to fully brew.
  3. Squeeze the juice of a fresh lemon wedge and honey to taste and stir the mint water.
  4. Garnish with a sprig of mint leaf and a thin slice of lemon on top and enjoy!

Servings: 1

Is there any proof that spearmint tea supports memory?

Smart woman having a cup of spearmint tea while studying

Minty tea supporting memory— it's delicious, and it's true! In fact, in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, spearmint extract was shown to improve both working and spatial memory. These were statistically significant improvements over placebo that indicated enhanced brain function. Additionally, this study even found benefits to mood and sleep!

In another study of 90 individuals with age-associated memory decline, 900 mg/day of a spearmint extract improved their mood and alertness (i.e., cognitive health). And other clinical trials with spearmint extract indicated that it could boost complex attention and concentration as well: in an analysis of 142 individuals aged 50-70 who received 900 mg of a spearmint extract daily for 90 days, those receiving the extract displayed improved sustained attention and cognitive performance compared to placebo.

Last, but certainly not least, the phenolic compounds present in spearmint were shown in preclinical studies to inhibit acetylcholinesterase, an enzyme that breaks down the vital memory-associated neurotransmitter acetylcholine.

Can spearmint tea help you generate new brain cells?

The scientific community once believed that humans stop growing new brain cells after adolescence. However, modern research has shown this to be untrue. Yup — it IS possible to generate new brain cells, a process called neurogenesis.

As scientists looked into the effects of spearmint, early lab and animal data suggested that it delivers significant support for neurogenesis. Also, the compounds in spearmint may protect existing brain cells from oxidative stress.

Spearmint tea FAQ

  • Where can I buy spearmint tea?

    Mint tea is widely available in grocery stores or online. FOCUS TEA™ is available through Life Extension and in select health markets nationwide.
  • How much rosmarinic acid is in spearmint tea?

    Commercial spearmint can range from 7.1 to 58.1 mg/g of rosmarinic acid while Neumentix™ spearmint is standardized to contain 145 mg/g.
  • Does spearmint tea have caffeine?

    No, spearmint tea is an herbal tea and therefore it is stimulant-free (no caffeine). Black tea, however, has caffeine (as do most types of green tea, unless decaffeinated).
  • Can you drink spearmint tea when pregnant? Is it safe?

    Spearmint tea does not have caffeine, making it a good option, as caffeine should be limited during pregnancy. However, according to WebMD, spearmint is possibly unsafe if consumed in large amounts during pregnancy. So, be sure to check with a doctor.
  • When to drink spearmint tea?

    Drinking this tasty herbal tea in the morning or during the day can help with focus. Because it is caffeine-free, it can also be enjoyed at night. Plus, it may help promote relaxation.
  • Can FOCUS TEA™ powder be mixed with cold liquids?

    While we suggest mixing FOCUS TEA™ with hot or boiling water, it can be mixed into cold liquids – however, this will require more mixing as it may not dissolve as easily. Making iced tea with FOCUS TEA™ is a great option for a refreshing drink in the warmer months. For iced tea, you can follow the same steps with the same ingredients using the recipe above and pour over ice once cooled. Or, add to cool water and mix thoroughly until dissolved.
  • When can I expect an effect?

    Based on the study, some effects were seen as early as 2.25 and 4 hours following a single serving of Neumentix™ with the best effects seen after 90 days. Life Extension® suggests following the study duration to determine efficacy.
  • Are there any side effects?

    No, there are no known side effects to drinking FOCUS TEA™. However, as a general rule of thumb, you should not exceed the recommended dose on the packaging, and if you have any concerns, speak with your healthcare provider.

Does spearmint have other health benefits?

Spearmint has antioxidant properties, which can benefit your whole body, including your immune system. In fact, an extract of spearmint has been shown to have higher antioxidant activity than peppermint!

Spearmint tea:

  • Supports healthy cell division
  • May help inhibit inflammation to support digestive tract health
  • We can't "forget" about the cognitive benefits, of course!

What are other ways to enjoy spearmint?

While you'll get the most brain benefits from drinking FOCUS TEA™, that doesn't mean there aren't other perks from having more of this helpful herb in your life:

  • Essential oils:

    Spearmint oil feels refreshing against the skin, and the scent can be invigorating, especially after a long day. You can also enjoy the aromatic scent by using a diffuser.
  • Fresh spearmint fruit salad:

    Add a fresh leaf of spearmint to your fruit salad to add complexity to an otherwise ordinary snack or dessert.
  • Dried mint in stews:

    Mix in some dried spearmint to give soups, chili and stews a kick. Try it in this vegan lentil soup recipe!

Looking for more healthy drink recipes? Sip on a Golden Milk Turmeric Latte, which is also caffeine-free.

References

  • Falcone, Paul H et al. "The attention-enhancing effects of spearmint extract supplementation in healthy men and women: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel trial." Nutr Res., April 2019, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30802720/
  • Herrlinger, Kelli A et al. "Spearmint Extract Improves Working Memory in Men and Women with Age-Associated Memory Impairment." J Altern Complement Med., January 2018, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29314866/
  • Mirza, Fatima Javed et al. "Rosmarinic acid and uroslic acid alleviate deficits in cognition, synaptic regulation and adult hippocampal neurogenesis in an Aβ1-42-induced mouse model of Alzheimer's disease." Phytomedicine, March 2021, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0944711321000325

By: Holli Ryan, RD, LD/N

Holli Ryan is a food & nutrition expert, registered & licensed dietitian-nutritionist, health & wellness writer, blogger, and social media specialist. She graduated from Florida International University and is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. In her free time she enjoys photography, travel, cooking, art, music, and nature.