Sideritis syriaca is a herb that is used to prevent and fight the common cold. It grows in the Eastern Mediterranean, specifically the Balkans. Sideritis is known as Mountain Tea, Ironwort, Sheperd's Tea, or Pirin Tea. These plants are wild, hardy flowering perennials that have adapted to survive with little water and little soil. This species of Sideritis thrives on rocky slopes and pastures at elevations over 3000 feet. The plant grows in abundance at the foot of Mount Olympus in Greece, where it was traditionally harvested by shepherds.

Use in tea

Very popular in Greece, the Republic of Macedonia, Bulgaria, Albania and throughout the Eastern Mediterranean, the plant is used to remedy the common cold. The herb is often used to prepare a tea (or more accurately a Tisane) widely believed to alleviate sinus congestion, aches /pains, and viruses including flu and the common cold. A very aromatic variant of the tea includes combining the Sideritis plant with spices common to Mediterranean cuisine.

Traditional preparation of the tea involves boiling the stems, leaves and flowers in a pot of water. The tea is often served with honey and lemon. Modern packaged preparations are available that allow the tea to be steeped using a tea ball, press or other loose tea preparation devices.

Historical references

This plant has been referenced in the Materia Medica written in the 1st Century A.D. This book was written by Pedanius Dioscorides (Greek: Πεδάνιος Διοσκορίδης; ca. 40-ca. 90), a Greek doctor who lived in Rome during the time of Nero. Dioscorides traveled the Mediterranean with the Roman legions, where he studied the medicinal benefits of the plants he would encounter.

Health benefits

Sideritis is traditionally used to fight the common cold, flu and allergies. Other traditional uses are for soothing respiratory problems, aiding digestion, strengthening the immune system, and calming mild anxiety. It is also used to relieve sinus congestion.

Scientists recently suggested that the traditional Greek promotion of mountain tea as a panacea for most illnesses may be remarkably close to the truth. Modern tests have indicted that the tea helps in the prevention of osteoporosis while its anti-oxidant properties aid in the prevention of cancer. The studies also indicate Mountain Tea has a positive effect on almost anything that ails.

Sideritis is known scientifically to be anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-oxidant. The active elements in Sideritis that make it beneficial for health are diterpenoids, flavonoids, and its essential oils. Significant research has been done on Sideritis confirming its popular use to prevent colds, flu, and allergies. Most of this research has taken place in Universities in the Netherlands, Greece, Turkey, the Republic of Macedonia, Bulgaria, and Albania, where the plant is indigenous (except the Netherlands).

Name variants

  • Mountain Tea - common name
  • Tsai tou vounou (Mountain Tea)- in Greece
  • Caj Mali (Mountain Tea) - in Albanian
  • Olympus Tea- named after Mount Oylmpus in Greece
  • Pirin Tea - named after the Pirin Mountains in Bulgaria
  • Mediterranean Mountain Tea
  • Ironwort- Sideritis is derived from the Greek meaning 'made of iron'.
  • Shepherd's Tea

External links

Health Benefit Reports

  • Check the health benefits page of for a free research paper.

How to prepare this tea:


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