Greek mountain tea, also known as Shepherd’s Tea and ironwort, is a herbal tea made from the Sideritis plant. Its healing powers were discovered thousands of years ago as the ancient Greeks used it as a herbal medicine for many purposes. The health benefits of Greek mountain tea have been later confirmed by scientific research. Read this article to learn more about this amazing herbal tea!
I first tried Greek mountain tea several years ago when I was visiting Santorini island. I am a big herbal tea enthusiast but I had not heard about this tea before. When I tasted it, I really liked its sweet floral taste and bought some to bring back home. Later I started studying more about it and found out about its many health benefits. I developed a habit of drinking it frequently, and when I run out of stock, I immediately ordered more online.
Continue reading this article to learn more about the Sideritis plant and its health benefits, how to prepare Greek mountain tea, and where you can buy it.
Sideritis is a genus of flowering plants that typically grow in the Mediterranean countries. There are hundreds of different species of Sideritis plants, but it has been difficult to name and classify them due to the faint differences between some of the species. It grows in high altitudes, usually over 3000 feet (1000 meters), and is a hardy plant that does well in harsh conditions with little water and soil. The Sideritis plants are perennial and grow as a short shrub that is less than 2 feet high.
Sideritis is a Greek word that means “made of iron”, and that’s why it is also called ironwort. It is very popular in Greece, Turkey, and the Balkan area, and is commonly used for brewing tea and adding herbal aroma to local dishes.
Greek Mountain Tea Health Benefits
The health benefits of the Greek mountain tea have been known for thousands of years and it has been used as a remedy for many illnesses. It has a high concentration of antioxidants, flavonoids, sterols, and essential oils. It is most commonly used to treat the common cold, aches and pains, indigestion, and respiratory problems.
Contains Flavonoids and Antioxidants
Greek mountain tea contains several beneficial flavonoids and has powerful anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, antispasmodic, and antioxidant capabilities. According to a study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, consuming the mountain tea increases antioxidant defense. In addition, it’s rich in iron and thus helps with avoiding anemia.
Boosts Immunity and Aids Digestion
Thanks to its anti-viral and anti-microbial properties, Shepherd’s Tea helps your body with fighting against the common cold and preventing fever. The mountain tea also strengthens and stimulates our immune systems, which further protects us from pathogens.
Mountain tea is often drunk after a meal and used as an aid for digestion because it stimulates gastric secretions. Its antimicrobial effects are helpful in avoiding, and getting rid of, pathogens that might cause diarrhea and stomach pain. A study from 2007 indicates that the mountain tea has significant anti-inflammatory properties as well as antimicrobial qualities against several common bacteria, including Escherichia coli.
Lowers Blood Pressure
Greek mountain tea is known to improve cardiovascular function due to its anti-thrombotic effects. According to a study from 2012 Sideritis can help with lowering blood pressure by relieving blood vessels. Research clearly supports the mountain tea’s benefits for heart health and usefulness with treating cardiovascular problems, but more studies are needed to confirm these results.
May Increase Libido and Help with Anxiety and Osteoporosis
The mood-lifting effect of the mountain tea was described by Hippocrates, the father of Western medicine, already thousands of years ago. Science agrees with this, as a study from 2013 indicates that drinking the mountain tea prevents anxiety-related behavior. It can also protect our brain against depression, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Some older sources say that mountain tea has positive effects on libido. This has not been scientifically proven, but it contains potassium and zinc, which are beneficial for sexual health. Research also indicates that it can increase bone mineral density, which helps in avoiding osteoporosis.
How to Prepare It
There are many ways to brew Greek mountain tea, and after experimenting a little bit, I found out that it’s best to let it simmer for a while. This ensures that a maximum amount of the flavors and beneficial compounds will be dissolved into the tea. All you need for making a cup of taste mountain tea is some dried Sideritis plant, a stove, a kettle with a lid, and some clean water (I prefer spring water).
This is how I prepare my Greek mountain tea:
- Pour the desired amount of water into the kettle and add some dried Sideritis. I think you can’t really make it too strong, so you can put as much as you want. I prefer cutting the dried plant into about 4 inch long pieces (10 cm) and adding 4 to 6 of those in the kettle.
- Cover with a lid and bring water to a low boil. Reduce the heat and leave to simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Pour the tea into glasses. You can use a strainer or remove the pieces of the plant from the kettle before pouring it into glasses.
- Enjoy your tea! I prefer adding a bit of organic raw honey to my Sideritis tea.
Here is an excellent video instructing how to brew Greek mountain tea:
You can also prepare it in a french press, but I found that it’s hard to get the full potential out of it without simmering it for a while. However, if you want to try preparing it with the french press, I think it is better to crush the dried plants first so that the dissolving process will be more efficient.
Where to Buy It
If you visit Greece or some other country where dried Sideritis is commonly available, just buy a bunch of it and bring it home with you. It usually comes as whole dried stalks with flowers and leaves. If you are not planning on a trip to the Mediterranian anytime soon, you can also buy it online. Luckily, there is very good quality Greek mountain tea available on Amazon, and for a reasonable price.
Click on the image below to check the current price on Amazon:
Greek Mountain Tea
I like to drink Greek mountain tea frequently and have found it especially useful for strengthening the immune system and suppressing common cold. If I feel like I’m about to get sick, I immediately start drinking Sideritis tea three times a day, and often I have been able to avoid getting sick this way. If I get sick despite drinking it, I still continue drinking it every day, and I feel like it helps me with getting well faster and coping with the symptoms of the flu.
I really like the relatively mild and sweet floral taste of the mountain tea, so drinking it is always very enjoyable. It also makes an excellent ice-tea, and it’s naturally free of caffeine, so you can drink in the evening without worrying about sleeping difficulties. In addition to all the health benefits mentioned earlier, the mountain tea also helps with detoxing vital organs and healing wounds.
If you have any questions or want to share your experience related to Greek Mountain tea and its health benefits, please post a comment below!