There are many teas available that can calm and soothe, but very few come close to the medicinal benefits of Greek Mountain Tea (Sideritis)
But first a bit of history of this gem from Greece.
Being a mountainous country and sunny a good part of the year, Greece is a haven for 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 doctors such as Hippocrates. When De Materia Medica, written by the Greek physician Pedanius Dioscorides in the 1st century AD, it was emerging as the basis of the world’s botanical knowledge. In ancient times Sideritis was used as a toning herb, commonly used to treat wounds – especially those from iron swords or arrows.
Another key player in educating ordinary people about the merits of botanical medicine was playwright Aristophanes, who weaved information about the benefits and uses of herbs into his plays. Even today, despite now having access to conventional medicine, many people use herbs to make teas, tinctures, and other concoctions to treat all kinds of conditions.
For thousands of years, chamomile, mint, sage, and verbena have been go-to healing herbs. In recent years a great deal of international research has focused on the impressive benefits of mountain tea.
Shepherd’s tea mostly consumed in Greece and Spain; in Greece, you can try about 17 different varieties from mountains around the country. Of these only one is cultivated, all others are wild. Its essential oils are used in a variety of herbal medicine and cosmetic products. This humble tea has a sweet, floral, and earthy flavor and is caffeine-free.
Ironwort, Tsai tou Vounou, Balkan Sideritis, Greek Mountain Tea, Mountain Tea, Pirin Tea, Mursalski Tea or Shepherd’s Tea
Ironwort is known scientifically to be anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-oxidant. Active elements include diterpenoid and flavonoids, sterols, and other phytonutrients. Significant research has been done on ironwort confirming its popular use to prevent colds, flu, and allergies. Most of this research has taken place in universities in the Netherlands and in the southern Balkans where the plant is indigenous.
Sideritis & Alzheimer’s Disease
This is of special interest to me, as I had family members with this condition and it is so hard to cope with.
German research on Greek mountain tea, strongly indicated that it can prevent or even reverse Alzheimer’s disease. Neurology Professor Jens Pahnke from the Otto von Guericke University of Magdeburg in Germany said of his research: “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 stabilized.” He added: “I had a patient who had a memory and orientation problem, and had reached a point where he could neither go to the toilet on his own. I gave him Greek mountain tea for two months, and now he has improved to such an extent that he is preparing to go on holiday with a friend in the Alps!”
At the Otto von Guericke University of Magdeburg in Germany, the professor of Neurology, Jens Pahnke, revealed that Greek mountain tea lessens damage to the brain by nearly 80% in Alzheimer’s Disease patients. It also assists with prevention and is used in combination with St. John’s Wort.
Shepherd’s tea & depression
A recent study showed bioactive-rich Sideritis scardica tea (mountain tea) is as potent as Camellia sinensis tea (regular green/black tea) defenses and preventing oxidative stress. Green tea, which is often touted as a superior drink, is a plant which is rich in caffeine could lead to problems such as anxiety.
Even Hippocrates noticed that sipping Mountain Tea had a positive effect on anxiety and depression. A paper published in the peer reviewed MDPI journals, discussed a study in which flavonoids found in Mountain Tea were shown to have an effect on inhibiting hMAO in the human brain. Higher levels of hMAO in the brain are associated with several conditions including anxiety, depression, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease.
Greek Mountain Tea & Lowering Blood Pressure
A study featured in the October 2012 issue of the Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology found that extracts made from Sideritis helped lower blood pressure levels while helping blood vessels to relax.
The animal study measured arterial blood pressure and found that a dose of Sideritis extract led to blood vessel dilation, which helped lower blood pressure levels and reduced stress on the heart muscle.
While the studies helped support the use of Sideritis for its heart health benefits, further research is needed before Sideritis tea can be considered a treatment for cardiovascular conditions.
There is also a study on pain management using sideritis. According to a 2018 article published by Pain Research and Management, plants in the Lamiaceae family (which includes the Sideritis genus) are widely used for medicinal purposes in areas of the world — more commonly outside the United States. Sideritis scardica, also known as Greek mountain tea, is one of them.
There is also mentions that it helps with diabetes.
The list goes on and on, well let's just brew a cup - shall we?!
It is enormously popular in Greece and is brewed most often in winter when levels of physical activity decrease and colds, aches, and pains increase. It is said to have a positive effect on almost anything that ails you, but mostly it is used to combat colds, respiratory problems, indigestion, and mild anxiety. It is said to bolster the immune system and is valued for its antioxidants, as an anti-inflammatory and to reduce fever. I drink it hot in winter and iced in summer, and it is delicious both ways.
Making Mountain Tea is pretty simple. For one serving, add a small handful of the herb to water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. While many other teas are made by pouring boiling water over the tea leaves or herbs, bringing the water to a boil with the herb from the start is preferred with this type of tea. Just strain add lemon and sweetener if desired and enjoy.
Like all other teas we recommend for everyday use, 3-5 cups a day is often enough to provide the needed health benefits. Greek mountain tea is caffeine free, so it's also good during later hours. It also has a naturally sweet, floral flavor with a note of lemon, and it would make an excellent iced tea while retaining all the stated benefits. Incorporating Greek mountain tea is a great way to improve your health.
Cassia Organics carries three organics types of Shepherd's tea.
Sideritis Raeseri is indigenous on Mount Parnassus.
Sideritis Scardica is indigenous on Mount Olympus.
Sideritis Syriaca can be found on the island of Crete.
Discount Code for a limited time for the tea is here: MOUNTAIN
Youtube with Prof. Pahnke in English, most others in this channel are in German but also very interesting!
De Materia Medica copy from 1555 link