Botanical Encyclopedia

Greek Mountain Tea

Greek Mountain Tea

The Sideritis plant is an original wild herb that is generally known as "Tsai Tou Vounou" in Greek (Tea of the Mountain). The many varieties of Sideritis “Greek Mountain Tea” are some of the most precious and revered medicinal plants in Greek history. The plant's name comes from the Greek word "sideros," meaning iron, thanks to the ancient folk tales of the Sideritis plant’s healing effect on wounds caused by iron weapons. 

Date:

January 04, 2024

Author:

Rishi Tea

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Greece is particularly rich with endemic medicinal, aromatic and culinary herb species. The herbs thrive in high mountain micro-climates ranging from 500 to 2000 meters above sea level. Greece’s bountiful herbs are found on the sunny and steep mountains with rocky limestone soils in various regions of the country where there are significant differences in night and daytime temperatures. 
The Sideritis plant is an original wild herb that is generally known as "Tsai Tou Vounou" in Greek (Tea of the Mountain). The many varieties of Sideritis “Greek Mountain Tea” is one of the most precious and revered medicinal plants in Greek history. The plant's name comes from the Greek word "sideros," meaning iron, thanks to the ancient folk tales of the Sideritis plant’s healing effect on wounds caused by iron weapons. 
On the Island of Crete, Greek Mountain Tea is known as "Malotiras", a name that is derived from the Italian words “Male” (human disease-sickness) and "tirare" (to draw out - remove), because during the time when the Venetians occupied Crete they considered Greek Mountain Tea as a valuable panacea tea for clearing colds and respiratory infections. 
In ancient Greece, Wild Mountain Tea consumption was documented by Theophrastus who was one of humanity’s original botanists (372-287 BC) who documented medicinal and valuable plants. The revered plant explorer and botanical observer Dioskouridis wrote about Greek Mountain Tea in the 10th Century AD. Greek Mountain Tea has been cherished and consumed by the ancients.  
In the past, mountain tea was only foraged in the wild. It was considered a bee-feeding plant for honey production and only small quantities of Mountain Tea were collected for making tea by the people living in the mountainous regions. For centuries, the Sideritis Wild Mountain Tea varieties were a precious herbal panacea with limited production and distribution.
After the Second World War, the inhabitants of the mountainous regions shared wild mountain tea with the urban populations. The Greeks from all walks of life came to know the taste and story of Wild Mountain Tea. The consumption of Greek Mountain Tea increased. As the demand for Greek Mountain Tea increased, so did its price.  Ingenious farming families in Greece collected wild plants and began to cultivate Mountain Tea in farm gardens to meet the demand.  The commercial cultivation of Greek Mountain Tea began and spread to different growing areas of Greece. These days we can find wild mountain tea but most is cultivated on farms using plant genetics originally collected from the wild mountain cliffs. 
Today, Greek Mountain Tea is very popular in Greece, all over Europe. Recently, it is sought after in North America and Asia as tourism to Greece increased. The exchanges of food and beverage cultures and aspirational experiences from travel have carried Greek Mountain Tea across the globe.
The awareness of Greece’s amazing Mountain Tea is growing due to medical research of Greek Mountain Tea’s wide ranging health benefits. Medical researchers in different parts of the word share information and reports about Greek Mountain Tea being a beneficial, caffeine-free and powerful source of antioxidant polyphenols similarly found in the finest green teas. 
Greek mountain tea has been revered for its medicinal properties for generations. It is believed to have anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties, making it a popular choice for boosting the immune system. Many people also drink it to help with digestion, improve respiratory health, and alleviate anxiety or stress. It's like a soothing cup of wellness in your hands!
One of the most fascinating areas of research is the potential benefits of Greek mountain tea for conflictive support. Some studies suggest that it may help reduce stress and anxiety levels, promoting a sense of calm and relaxation. This could be particularly beneficial for individuals experiencing high conflict and high-stress situations. 
German researches found that Greek Mountain Tea supports cognitive function, memory and may prevent the early onset of Alzheimer’s disease.  
Greek Mountain Tea has a rich and long history. Its reputation as a healthy panacea tea is powerful but most of all, Greek Mountain Tea tastes really amazing and there are different varieties of Mountain Tea that can be enjoyed.

Greece is home to 17 varieties of the Sideritis Mountain Tea. The most common varieties are Sideritis Scardica, Sideritis Raeseri, Sideritis Clandestina and Sideritis Syriaca. These different varieties of Greek Mountain Tea each have their own unique aromatic and flavorful characteristics. Sideritis Scardica is known for its strong aroma and sweet taste sensation of linden and wild honey. Sideritis Raeseri has a mild and balanced sweetness with herbaceous and wild minty flavor.  Sideritis Clandestina is amazingly aromatic and complex with resinous flavors of hops, cannabis, wild flowers and bright citrus. Sideritis Syriaca offers a rich, earthy and deep savory flavor with notes of wild sage, alpine herbs and honey. The finest Greek Mountain Tea thrives in the mountainous areas of Greece, particularly in regions like Epirus, Thessaly, Olympus, Othrys, Peloponnese and the Island of Crete. These days, there are more and more regions becoming involved in the organic farming of Sideritis in order to meet the increased demand for Greek Mountain Tea.  As tea tasters and tea lovers, we can sense and deeply appreciate the differences of terroir to be found in the various types of Greek Mountain Tea. Experiencing the range of Greek Mountain Tea varietals is an exploration of taste.