Greek mountain tea, or sideritis, has been used since the ancient times as medicine, a refreshment, a memory and energy booster, and is one of Greece’s most recognizable and popular herbs.
Ancient Greeks called it sideritis, meaning ‘that which contains iron’. They used it as medicine since it is perfect for sore throat or the common cold. Theophrastus (372-287 BC) who is considered to be the father of botany, wrote that sideritis was so named because of its property to heal wounds from iron objects.
The beneficial properties of Greek mountain tea have been known for decades by the scientific community. Recently, German scientists found that the miraculous qualities of Greek mountain tea are a powerful weapon in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease, which leads to the degeneration of brain cells.
The higher you go, the better the tea
According to the Chinese, the best tea grows in high mountains. The same applies to the Greek mountain tea. It grows almost exclusively in mountainous areas. Specifically, it grows in rocky alpine and subalpine areas in mainland Greece and Crete.
There are about 17 native varieties, the most famous being those of Mount Athos, Mount Taygetos, Mount Olympus, and Mount Parnassos. Also the tea varieties from the mountains of Crete and Evia are very popular.
However, the medicinal qualities of Greek mountain tea have made it very sought-after and scientists say that it is at risk of extinction because of over-exploitation. For this is reason over-harvesting of mountain tea is forbidden in Greece.
The natural medicine
Traditionally in Greece, mountain tea is preferred for its beneficial effects on colds and upper respiratory tract infections, as well as against indigestion and gastrointestinal disorders. It is also considered anticonvulsant, analgesic, and healing. Its active ingredients are caffeine that is a stimulant of the nervous system, but there are traces of theobromine that is a diuretic and acts on the respiratory system.
Its fresh leaves are quite rich in vitamin C. The plant infusion is used as a digestive, diuretic in digestive disorders and as a stimulant of the brain and muscles. It also speeds up breathing. However, long-term and excessive use of tea can cause disorders such as insomnia, slimming, loss of appetite and nervous system problems.