Peppermlnt is a plant indigenous to China and Europe. It is now also produced in other parts of the world, including the USA, India, Korea, Japan and Brazil. According to historical records, the Chinese first used peppermint in the Song Dynasty (960- 1279), mainly as a medicine to treat acute febrile diseases and heat strokes.
Since the 1950s peppermint production in China has increased steadily with rising demand on the world market. Nantong Prefecture in Jiangsu Province at the mouth of the Yangtze River, which administers six countries, is one of China’s and the worlds largest peppermint producers. With a temperate climate and a fertile soil, Nantong also produces the best peppermint in the country. Large-scale production of the plant in the area started in 1931, when a factory in nearby Shanghai across the Yangtze needed large supplies.
Now Nantong supplies about 30% of China’s peppermint oil and about 1/10 of the worlds total. Some 10,000 hectares of land in the area are devoted to growing peppermint, according to Ding Yunzhu, deputy director of the Nantong Prefecture Planning office. Each year the state buys all the peppermint oil produced in the area, about 1,700 tons, and exports 1,250 tons. The rest is processed and sold on the domestic market.