Greek mountain tea is truly a superfood, one that could drastically improve your health if consumed every day. It tastes great, so consuming a regular dose shouldn’t be an issue, providing you know how to make it. In this guide we’ll take a look at the different varieties of sideritis while also showing you some quick and easy sideritis recipes for making hot and iced Greek mountain tea.
Types of Greek Mountain Tea
There are many different varieties of Greek mountain tea. All of the ones packed for consumption are beneficial for your health and they produce similar if not the same benefits. But some may be more beneficial than others, and there are also differences in taste and appearance. The three main types of sideritis include:
- Sideritis Scardica: Often said to be the most beneficial of Greek mountain teas, scardica is the one that has undergone the most research. There are suggestions that it contains more flavonoids than other varieties, but it also has a milder taste and fragrance and is therefore not as popular.
- Sideritis Syriaca: Probably the most popular variety of Greek mountain tea, the best sideritis syriaca has a very rich, deep fragrance and taste. It is also hugely beneficial. This variety is found in Crete and sold throughout Greece.
- Sideritis Raiseri: This variety is commonly found in Albania and is also grown in parts of Greece, often in combination with other varieties.
- Mix Breeds: There are also breeds that cross some of the ones mentioned above with the aim of getting the best out of both worlds. These have not been tested as much, but there is some promise here. The same could be said for all varieties of Greek mountain tea though as this is a winner regardless of the type.
Our personal favorite is sideritis syriaca, but if you’re new to the tea you may be better off with scardica. In any case, it’s worth noting that very few suppliers will actually tell you which variety you’re getting. That’s why it’s important to go with the well known, reputable and commercial brands.
How to Prepare Sideritis Tea
The best and easiest way to consume sideritis is to stick a few buds in a teapot, steep for 5 to 7 minutes, add some sugar or honey and then drink. It is best consumed without milk and you can add a squirt of lemon juice if you want a little acidity.
There are no tannins in this tea and if you use the right amount then it is difficult to over-steep and create a bitter drink. It will be bitter if you use too much of the herb and it will also be bland and weak if you use too little. Luckily, there is a very large grey area and you can experiment with doses in order to arrive at a taste that suits you. In terms of the health benefits of sideritis, the more you consume the better, so opt for a dose that is sizable, but still drinkable.
This drink should be enjoyed as well, so don’t make a super-strong concoction that you need to force down. There’s no point drinking it if you don’t enjoy it, regardless of how beneficial it might be.
Other Ways to Make Sideritis
If you have a little more time on your hands and want to get more from your Greek mountain tea then do as the Greeks do and boil it. Just add some buds to a pan, boil it for 5 to 10 minutes and then transfer to a cup. It’s best to over boil as you can also top-up with hot water if it’s too strong. And because of the many health benefits of this Greek tea, discussed in our benefits of Greek mountain tea article, stronger is better anyway. Some sideritis varieties, including raeseri, should not be boiled, but they tend to state this on the packet when this is the case.
You can also experiment with other ingredients in order to make this tea even healthier and even tastier. One of the best herbal additives we have come across is lemon verbena, which goes by the name Louisa. You can also try mixing it with lavender and chamomile if you want a relaxing blend, or some dried fruit (hibiscus, cranberry) for a fruity kick.
Green tea may make for a good mix as well, but these are two completely different teas and it’s a mix we haven’t tried ourselves. Whatever you do, just know that there is no wrong mix and everything should be drinkable providing you don’t overdo it.
If you find a mix that you really love and want to share, feel free to get in touch via our Contact Page. That way we can share your great sideritis recipes with the world. Or the readers of this website at least.
How to Prepare Sideritis Iced Tea
If you are not a big fan of hot tea or you just prefer something cooler to enjoy throughout the day, then you can make a big batch of Greek mountain iced tea. We have made this a few times and if you get the mix right it is delicious. In fact, even if you don’t you should be onto a winner as it’s hard to get this wrong.
It’s best to make this sideritis iced tea in batches and then store it in the fridge. You should boil the tea to extract more of the goodness and flavor out of it and use less of the product as a result. Just take a handful of the tea, throw it into a pan with a quart (1 liter) of water and then bring to the boil.
Let it boil away for 10 minutes before removing the sideritis herb and setting it to one side. You can use it in a batch later, substituting 2 to 3 grams of used herb for 1 gram of fresh herb.
Add honey and/or sugar to taste, top up with another quart (1 liter) of water, transfer to a jug and then leave it in the fridge to cool. After a couple hours, take it out, add a couple slices of lemon, throw some ice cubes in and serve.
It’ll be the healthiest iced tea you’ve ever had and it’ll also taste infinitely better than green tea made in the same way.