Greek mountain tea, also known as “Sideritis” or “Ironwort” is a type of herbal tea that grows wild on the mountains of Greece and has been consumed for its medicinal properties for many hundreds—if not thousands—of years. It is one of our favourite teas, making this a somewhat biased review from the outset, so rather than using this space to put a particular brand under the microscope, we’ll just focus on the tea itself and explain why it is we enjoy it so much.
Types of Sideritis Tea
Sideritis comes in several forms, but the ones grown for tea consumption tend to be just one of a few different varieties. These are all labelled as “Greek mountain tea” and they are all hugely beneficial, so the variety is not something you should concern yourself with. There are some taste differences and you’ll pay more or less for certain varieties, but the composition of most forms of Sideritis is the same and provides the same benefits as a result.
There does seem to be more of an emphasis on a type of Sideritis known as “Scardica”, purely because this was the variety that was at the forefront of a major clinical trial undertaken by a German university (we’ll get to that soon). But similar tests have been done on other varieties with equally positive results.
Put simply, as long as it’s Sideritis it’s all good.
Where to Buy Greek Mountain Tea in the UK
We’ve been big fans of this tea for a while, but living in the UK has made it hard to get a decent supply. We’ve tried eBay, but the teas sent through the world’s leading auction site tend to be stale and of a very low quality. There is also no way of tracing where these teas come from, how old they are, if they have been coated with pesticides or if they have been taken from government land in the wild (a common issue).
Update: We recently found a new website operating in the UK that sells Greek mountain tea. They call themselves Shelgo Tea and have a great selection of Greek products, just what we have spent several years look for. You can buy Sideritis Scardica from them by clicking the link. If you do, make sure you use the code “YouReviews” to get 10% off your order.
To date, they are the only reliable supplier of organic Greek mountain tea we have come across and they also sell other great products from Greece. We can’t recommend them highly enough!
Greek Mountain Tea Health Benefits
There are a huge number of potential and proven benefits of Greek mountain tea. The aforementioned study was done just a few years ago and suggested that Sideritis tea could help ward off early signs of dementia and Alzheimer’s, improving cognitive function over the long-haul and helping to keep your mind strong and healthy.
But it goes much deeper than that. The Greeks have always believed that Greek mountain tea could help stave off colds and flus and that it could even be used to cure them. Nothing can cure the common cold, but Sideritis does come very close as it may help to boost your immune system.
Sideritis was also believed to be able to help with digestive distress, inflammation and indigestion, among other things.
It is loaded with antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties, suggesting that the Greeks were onto something. It is also anti-microbial and a 2012 study discovered that regular consumption reduced inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract, something that was attributed to the phenol and antioxidant content.
Other Sideritis Tea Health Benefits
Greek mountain tea also contains essential oils and this, in combination with its rich vitamin and mineral profile, goes someway to explaining the calming effect that the tea has on those who drink it. This effect is comparable to teas like chamomile, which is to say that while it’s not akin to a prescription or recreational drug, it is strong enough to be noticeable and provides welcome benefits.
Greek mountain tea can also reduce your blood pressure and drastically reduce stress, which means it may help to reduce your chances of developing cardiovascular disease.
There are countless studies out there that sing the praises of Greek mountain tea and list a huge number of Sideritis health benefits, but we’re still discovering more and more of these with each passing day. This is a true superfood, an elixir that we could all benefit from and one that we should be consuming more of on a regular basis.
How to Make Sideritis Tea
Sideritis tea can be boiled and this is one of the most common ways to prepare it. You take a few of the buds, put them in a pan of water and then bring to the boil, stirring gently for a few minutes. The pan is then taken off the heat and the liquid is drained and served, often with a squirt of lemon juice and a spoonful of honey.
This method gives you more bang for your buck. It means you can use less of the Sideritis and get the same super-strong and highly beneficial tea. But the same could be said for many teas as boiling in this manner will always leech more of the beneficial oils out of the tea.
And as with other teas, if you don’t have the time, the patience or the will, you can simply steep it in boiling water. There are no tannins in Sideritis tea, so it’s difficult to over-steep and create a bitter liquid. Because of this we like to err on the side of strong, opting for more Sideritis buds and a longer steep. The fact that no milk is used and the water is boiling means the liquid will still be piping hot by the time you drink it, even if you steep it for 5 or more minutes.
Ironwort is just another name for Sideritis, stemming from the fact that the Greek name for this tea translates into something like, “He who is made of iron”. This in turn stems from the belief that it will make you stronger, as the Ancient Greeks, just like modern Greeks, held this herbal tea in very high esteem.