Mountain Herbal Tea
It is a perennial plant of the Sideritis genus, that belongs to the Lamiaceae family. Its height reaches up to 50cm and it grows in rocky areas in altitudes of 400m and more.
The genus includes many plant species, over 150, that usually have small yellow flowers. Greece and Spain are the two biggest consumers of mountain herbal tea. In the Greek mountains we can find about 17 types, the most famous of which are Sideritis athoa, Sideritis clandestine, Sideritis scardica, Sideritis raeseri, Sideritis syriaca, Sideritis Euboea.
HISTORY OF ITS NAME
In Greece , mountain herbal tea is found in the texts of Theophrastus (372-287 B.C.) and Dioscourides (10th century A.C. ).
The official name of Sideritis derives from the Greek word “sidiros” (ferrum/iron) due to its capacity to heal wounds caused by iron weapons. According to another version, the plant took its name from its high concentration in ferrum. A third version suggests that it owes its name to the shape of its leaves that look like the teeth of the shell on the edge of a spear.
In Crete it is also known as “malotira”, a name that probably derives from the Italian words “male” (illness) and “tirare” (drag), because in the years of the Venetian domination on the island it was considered to be the best medicine against the cold or any respiratory conditions.
The ancient Greeks used to refer to the Sideritis scardica as the “tea of Gods” or the “tea of Titans”. The Titans were very strong, powerful deities, (the first dominants of the world), who lived in mount Othris and fought with the Olympian Gods throwing huge rocks on mount Olympus.
HOW TO PREPARE AND ENJOY THE BEVERAGE
Tasty and aromatic, the mountain herbal tea can be consumed hot or cold, with lemon, honey, cinnamon or even plain. In order to be as beneficial as possible , it is important to pay attention to the method of preparation. Heat the water and, before it reaches boiling point, withdraw it from the heat, put the tea leaves inside, leave for 3-4 minutes, remove the leaves and drink the beverage.
In contrast to common tea, mountain herbal tea doesn’t have stimulant action, so it can also be consumed at night without affecting sleep.