Mountain tea, which has a high phyto-nutrient content that protects it from UV rays
Mountain tea, which has a high phyto-nutrient content that protects it from UV rays and other elements, usually grows in rocky places at an altitude of 1000 metres and above (which is why it’s also known as Shepherd’s Tea). The plant has been scientifically shown to offer a multitude of important health benefits as it has powerful antioxidant qualities previously recognised only in green tea. But that’s certainly not all – this herb is also shown to have potent antiviral, antimicrobial, antifungal and antioxidant qualities. Although caffeine free, Aristotle described it as an energy tonic, and indeed, it is known to boost the immune system; drinking two to three cups of mountain tea every day is thought to help prevent or fight flu symptoms and stress-related ailments such as chest infections, a foggy head, digestive complaints, fatigue and anxiety.
Even as recently as a decade ago, paradoxically one couldn’t order Greek herbal teas even in the rustic kafeneio of a mountain village – the yellow teabags of black tea from abroad had to do. But today, fortunately and finally, Greek entrepreneurs are recognising the blessings and huge potential offered by their country’s natural produce. Mountain tea is now sold in a tin like a soft-drink (sweetened with honey) by the TuVunu company as well as in exquisitely packaged form by Anassa Organic Herbs and other businesses, many of which are by now online.
Mountain Tea Fun Facts
* Tsai vounou is from the Sideritis plant, whose name means ‘made of iron’. Some believe that in ancient times the herb was used to heal wounds from iron spears, while others sustain the name comes from the spear-like shape.
* There are around 17 varieties of mountain tea, (which belongs to the mint family). The ones considered to be of the highest quality in Greece are: Sideritis athoa (from Mount Athos), Sideritis clandestina (from Mt Taygetos & the Helmos mountains), Sideritis scardica (from Mt Olympus), Sideritis raeseri (from Mt Parnassos), Sideritis syriaca (from Crete, where it’s known as malotira, meaning, from the Italian, puling away the harm) and Sideritis euboea (from Evia).
* Mountain tea is best drunk with a big squeeze of lemon, as the vitamin C in the citrus friuit helps the body absorb iron.
* Don’t like the taste? Steep it along with other flavoursome herbs such as mint and chamomile or sage and rosehip – the addition of these will only add to the health benefits of your drink!