Guide to SKOPJE

Tea for comfort


A valuable companion to chilly weather


In Greece black tea is not a common beverage, as it is most famously in Turkey and Asia. If you ask a Greek “would you like some tea?” they will likely reply “no thank you, I am not ill!”…hm…now why would they say that? It’s because Greeks traditionally drink hot tea to cure an illness – and they generally connect it with feeling poorly, even a little insecure 🙂


So it is more common to drink herbal tea instead. The Greeks’ most popular herbal tea is called “Mountain Tea” (Tsai tou Vounou). The plant is endemic in the Mediterranean, it has over 100 sub-species (17 in Greece) and its consumption is popular around many countries of the Mediterranean basin – even though it is systematically cultivated only in Greece.tea3_balkon3

Tea harvest in a farm in Domokos area, Fthiotida region.

The generic scientific name of the plant is Sideritis L. (sidiros=iron) and indeed it contains significant amounts of iron, a substance that happens to serve well the frequently diagnosed iron-deficiency of Mediterranean populations. Mountain tea grows, as the name suggests, at over 1,000 m. altitude and is adapted to the arid soil and prolonged sunshine of the Mediterranean region. Greece is a perfect country for it, since mountains cover over 80% of its territory.

Mountain tea is collected in literally every mountain region all around Greece. In every region the local sub-species may slightly vary and so will the local names. It can take the name of local dialects, for example Malotyra (Cretan); or of the region of harvest (Evia tea); or the proper mountain of harvest (Olympos tea, Parnassos tea) and in Mount Athos it is named after the Vlach people of Greek Macedonia (Vlach tea).tea4_balkon3

The actual plant is but a humble bush with thick velvety leaves and yellow flowers.

The leaves and buds are collected by hand in the beginning of summer, then they are dried and sold everywhere in the country, in bulk, in batches, even in tea bags. The product is 100% natural and when cultivated requires no pesticides or fertilizers, which makes it very easy to acquire official “organic” certification.

The beverage is not only tasty and aromatic, it is also known to have anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and analgesic qualities, that’s why it is a popular cure for the common cold, cough and stomach aches. Scientists have even discovered it can also act as an anxiolytic (anti-stress factor) without any side-effects that are e.g. witnessed in other plant-based beverages. Prepared like the Greeks love to drink it, as an infusion, and taken very hot with honey, it makes your sore throat feel better and your system stronger.

Balkon3 suggests Mountain Tea for coping with a busy winter, a chilly weather… and drinks to your health! 


 Sophia Nikolaou