Being a mountainous country showered by sunshine for a good part of the year, Greece has natural landscapes blanketed by over 3,600 species and subspecies of plants. The healing properties of many of these medicinal plants have been lauded and used since antiquity by Hippocrates, Theofrastus, Dioscorides and Galen, and became known to the wider world when the ‘herbal bible’,
Dioscorides (40-90 AD) De Materia Medica, was translated into Arabic and Latin in the 12th and 13th C and in German, Spanish, French, Italian and finally English after the 16th century, emerging as the basis of the world’s botanical knowledge.
For thousands of years, chamomile, mint, sage and verbena have been go-to healing herbs for making curative infusions in the majority of Greek homes, but in very recent years a great deal of international research has focused on the health benefits of mountain tea.
German research on Greek mountain tea, also known as ironwort (sideritis) and Tsai tou Vounou, strongly indicated that it can prevent or even reverse Alzheimer’s disease: “By drinking mountain tea for six months, patients with Alzheimer disease reduced the disease to the level it was nine months ago and then it stabilised.”
Mountain tea usually grows in rocky places at an altitude of 1000 metres and above. 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. It is said 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.
Mountain Tea Facts
* There are around 17 varieties of mountain tea. 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 fruit helps the body absorb iron.
Greek City Times