Tea, herbs, nature and all things creative and healthy for the mind, body and soul is what my journey as The Tea Traveller is about. As an intuitive herbalist, tea sommelier and Inspiritress, the plants guide me to create blends according to what the being in front of me needs at the given moment. When travelling, I like to discover local teas and herbs and often bring a good amount of ethically and organically sourced bunches back for my clients.
Today, I’d like us to travel together to the home of the Greek Gods, Mount Olympus, where we will explore a herb that will strengthen your very core.
Olympus tea (Sideritis scardica), also known as Mountain tea, Shepard’s tea or Ironwort can be found at altitudes above 1000 meters above sea level. It is a genus of flowering plants which has been known in the Mediterranean regions for its healing properties since antiquity.
When translated, ‘Sideritis’ means iron or he who is made of iron because, in ancient times, one of the beliefs was that the plants were effective in healing wounds caused by iron weapons. Upon closer observation, you will see that the plant has a spear-like sepal and that the leaves are soft and hairy with a hard stem with the flowers varying from white to pale yellow to pink, red, or even purple. The gathering and drying of this shrub are usually done in July when in full bloom.
Wherever you go in the north of Greece, you only have to follow your nose to track a brewing pot as Mountain tea has a sweet and distinct smell. In addition to tasting like morning dew on mountain flowers, Olympus tea is highly regarded for its health benefits. Drink it when you need minerals or when you lack iron. It is also very good at getting rid of water retention and soothing an upset stomach. Due to the flavonoids it contains it has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties which makes it great for treating respiratory problems, colds and flu. Aside from these bonus benefits, you can also simply drink it for pleasure.
“So, let’s sit and sip the herb of the gods with the nine Muses.”
Origin: Mount Olympus, Greece
Harvest time: July 2019
Herb colour: Pale vintage green with pale yellow flowers
Liquor colour: Deep amber
Tea Aroma: Woody with a fruity zest
Tea taste: You cannot escape that mountain feeling. The taste is that of earthy freshness, morning mountain dew, and then it also has some minty, lime and zesty notes.
Steeping/brewing: Prepare this tea as a decoction by boiling the stems, leaves and flowers in a pot of water with a lid. You can serve it with lemon and honey if you wish, but I find it naturally sweet enough. Olympus tea can also be consumed at any time of the day as it contains no caffeine.
Shelf life: In my experience, long.