Greek mountain tea, also known as shepherd’s tea, is made from the leaves of plants from the Sideritis species. An herbal tea, Greek mountain tea has been drunk for its health benefits for many years. Also sometimes called ironwart, the tea is still made from freshly harvested herbs in the Mediterranean. It is available as dried loose tea or in tea bags in health food stores and some grocery stores. It may help with digestive health and contains natural antioxidants.
Full of Flavonoids and Antioxidants
In 2011, the “Journal of Ethnopharmacology” published a study on the flavonoid content of all plants found within the Sideritis genus. Despite the wide array of species available -- over 150 -- researchers found that all Sideritis species plants were shown to have anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-spasmodic properties. They were rich in a number of natural antioxidants, including flavonoids, and almost all species also contained essential oils.
Lowers Blood Pressure
A 2012 publication of the “Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology” found that extracts made from Sideritis helped lower blood pressure levels while helping blood vessels to relax. The animal study measured arterial blood pressure and found that a dose of Sideritis extract led to blood vessel dilation, which helped lower blood pressure levels and reduced stress on the heart muscle. While the studies helped support the use of Sideritis for its heart health benefits, further research is needed before Greek mountain tea can be considered a treatment for cardiovascular conditions.
Protects the Digestive System
In 2012, “Planta Medica” published an animal study on the effects of Greek mountain tea on gastrointestinal health and disorders. Researchers found that taking an oral dose of Greek mountain tea led to less inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract, likely due to the presence of phenols and antioxidants found naturally in the plant. Researchers also found that taking the supplement led to reduced inflammation and toxicity in the long term, demonstrating Greek mountain tea’s protective abilities. While the results were promising, further study is needed on Greek mountain tea as an herbal treatment for gastrointestinal complications.
Brewing Greek Mountain Tea
When brewing Greek mountain tea from fresh plants, you can use the flowers, stem and leaves of the plant. Place around six to eight 2-inch pieces of the plant into boiling water and lower the heat, allowing it to simmer for five to 10 minutes depending on how strong you like the tea. Greek mountain tea has an earthy taste and, if you use the flowers, a slight floral scent. For dried tea leaves or tea bags, add about 2 tablespoons, or a third of a tea bag, into a teapot and fill with boiling water, letting steep for five to 10 minutes. You can add honey as well as milk or lemon to flavor the tea.