Greeks are not known for their love for tea, as the British or the Turkish are. However, when it comes to tea, the first variety that a Greek would mention is ”chai tou vounou”, or Greek mountain tea.
Sideritis, as it is officially known, has been used since ancient times as a medicine, as well as a refreshment.
Ancient, medieval and modern Greeks were also using this herb to boost energy and memory, and up to this very day, it is by far the most popular and famous herb in the country.
The term ”Sideritis”, actually comes from the name used by ancient Greeks for this herb.
Meaning “that which contains iron,” Sideritis was used as medicine since it is perfect for sore throats or the common cold.
Anyone who’s been in Greece in winter must have been offered a nice hot cup of mountain tea, which is traditionally consumed without milk.
Ancient Greek biologist Theophrastus (372-287 BC) who is considered to be the father of botany, has written that Sideritis, was so named because of its property to heal wounds from iron objects.
Thus, ancient Greeks not only believed it was a refreshment and a remedy for the common winter cold but also a medicine for far more serious conditions, such as injuries.
In modern times, the beneficial properties of Greek mountain tea have been known for decades by scientific studies conducted around the world.
There is even a recent German study which suggests that Greek mountain tea can even be a powerful friend in our fight against Alzheimer’s disease, which leads to the degeneration of brain cells, due to its energy-boosting properties that keep the brain active.
It has to be noted here that the term ”Greek mountain tea” does not actually mean that this variety of tea is solely Greek.
The Sideritis variety can be found in abundance in most Mediterranean regions, from the Iberic peninsula all the way to the Asian coast of the Mediterranean Sea.
Its consumption, however, is very popular in the southern parts of the Balkan peninsula and in Turkey.
Traditionally Greeks prefer mountain tea during wintertime.
It is mainly used as a treatment for its beneficial effect on colds and upper respiratory tract infections.
Many also drink it for indigestion and gastrointestinal disorders and is even considered an anticonvulsant.
Greek mountain tea is rich in caffeine, which acts as a stimulant of the nervous system, but there are traces of theobromine, a diuretic, which acts on the respiratory system.
Its fresh leaves are also quite rich in vitamin C.
However, because of its caffeine-rich nature, daily consumption in large amounts can lead to insomnia, so try not to overdo it!