Greek Mountain Tea
Getting to know the mountain tea
Known since antiquity, the mountain tea was the first beverage people used for colds, since it helped combat influenza and colds, while combined with honey it soothes sore throat. Generally it helps in inflammation of the upper respiratory tract and it is also good for combating indigestion and gastrointestinal disorders. Finally, it is antispasmodic, analgesic, healing and anti-anxiety while it helps in anemia, because it contains iron.
That is why Hippocrates recommended it as a tonic. Dioscorides had only good words to say about the mountain tea and he considered it to be a powerful shield against cold.
From several studies we know that genus Sideritis scardica have potential pharmacological properties such as anti-inflammatory, antioxidant -in extent corresponding to green tea-, immunomodulatory, antibacterial, protecting the gastrointestinal system and the mitochondria and contains substances that inhibit the reuptake of serotonin, dopamine and norandrenalinis (tricyclic antidepressants). It also has anti-hypertensive activity, as well as antithrombotic because of the rich content of flavonoids, which shield the circulatory and cardiovascular systems. it is considered good for stomach, diaphoretic and tonic.
Studies made by the Universities of Patras and Ioannina have shown the beneficial effects of mountain tea. Other studies by the University of Athens argue that the extracts of Sideritis euboea and Sideritis clandestina can contribute proactively to osteoporosis, as well as protect against the loss of bone density and enhance the mechanical strength of bone.
Furthermore German studies suggest that the mountain tea may protect against Alzheimer's disease. Other studies have shown that it contains important ingredients which inhibit production of urokinase, an enzyme that contributes to the development of cancer.
Mountain tea today remains one of the most popular Greek herbs. As a concoction it is highly preferred by the Greeks, especially during the winter months because of the beneficial effect on colds and inflammation of the upper respiratory system. These properties are enhanced with the addition of honey. Moreover, the beverage is very tasty and aromatic and can be drunk hot or cold, with sugar, honey or plain. So far the cultivation of this plant takes place only in Greece. It is ideal for the cold days of winter and the hot days of summer.
Mountain tea has no stimulating effect and can easily be consumed in the evening before bedtime.
The correct way to prepare the beverage, is to first boil the water and just before boiling point to remove it from the heat. Then pour in the mountain tea (2-3 branches), leave for 3-4 minutes to bring out the flavor and its medicinal substances, strain it and drink it. Mountain tea might as well be eaten cold (after preparing let cool). Serve plain, with honey, or with honey, lemon and cinnamon.