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Mountain tea in the past and present Greece

Mountain tea, however, was something I drank very often at my childhood. This tea is made from the dried leaves of the Sideritis plant and it is usually served with honey and lemon. My mother used to prepare it for me and my siblings every night to calm us down after the day’s bustle and lull us to sleep. In winter, she made us chicken soup for dinner and mountain tea before we went to sleep, so that we would wake up feeling strong and healthy.

It was well known in the village that mountain tea was great for treating colds and flu and combating stomach issues, indigestion and insomnia. Whenever I felt unwell, I drank it. When I grew up, I began to drink more and more mountain tea, several cups a day every day. It was like a detoxifying tonic that lifted my spirit and energized my body.

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Coffee was not known in ancient Greece, but mountain tea was very popular in all layers of society. Even the poor could pick these wild, native herbs from the mountains and make their tea over the fire, day or night. They used the tea as a digestive aid and as a medicine for colds and other illnesses.

Ο καφές και το τσάι στην Ελλάδα του χθες και του σήμερα

 Sideritis plant grows in rocky places at high altitudes and its name means “one that is/ or contains iron”. The ancient Greeks named it so, because it was known to help heal the soldiers’ wounds caused by iron weapons during the battle. It seems that the ancient Greeks knew about the plant something that took the modern scientists’ years to discover: ironwort has high iron content, and that is why in some countries it is called “iron-grass”.

 Read the whole excerpt in Greek here.
Translated and abridged from the excerpt from
(“The Greek Diet” Maria Loi – Sarah Toland, publisher: Harper Collins)