I got hold of this tea in Patara, a beautiful historical site and beach near Antalya, Turkey. The person who sold it to me said that it was sage. It is indeed not sage, but for some reason, local people call it that way. Sideritis plants grow on rocky areas at high altitude (1000 meter and over), and it is also known as ‘mountain tea’. The genus of Sideritis has over 150 perennial varieties spread across the Mediterranean, Canary and Madeira islands (Bojovic et al., 2011). I thought the shape of this plant looked more like Sideritis syriaca L. or Cretan mountain tea. Perhaps, it is a different variety, but I felt that the distance between the flowers is closer to the Sideritis syriaca than Sideritis scardica L.
The name of this plant also gives away its medicinal properties. According to this source, Sideritis was a generic reference for plants capable of healing wounds caused by iron weapons during battles in ancient times. ‘Sideritis’ derives from the Greek word for iron and literally translated as ‘he who is or has the iron’, because Sideritis was considered a ‘remedy against trauma from iron weapons in wars. It is also interesting that Sideritis is known as ‘Ironwort’ in English.
Dioscorides (a Greek physician in the Roman army) in his book in De Materia Medica advises the herbal infusion of ‘mountain tea’ to soldiers as a rejuvenating, regenerating aid to help them heal quicker and fuller (González-Burgos et al., 2011). In Turkey, Sideritis tea is consumed for its anti-stress; anti-oxidant and anti-bacterial benefits amongst others. So plenty of excuses for enjoying this invigorating tisane.
Harvest time: 2020
Leave colour: Green flowers and stems
Liquor colour: Vivid yellow
Tea aroma: Floral
Tea taste: Subtle sweetness with camomile-like and citrus undertones
Steeping/brewing: Boil about 10 stems in a pot for a couple of minutes. Filter and enjoy.
Shelf life: Up to 1years (to improve shelf life store the sealed tea leaves in a dry, dark place with low temperatures)