Growing wild in most Mediterranean and many Central European regions, Mountain Tea has a long history of use as an herb of healing and magic. This fuzzy flowering plant known formally as Sideritis syriaca has a host of folk names including Ironwort and Shepherd’s Tea. The Greek word Sideritis where Mountain Tea gets its formal name translates to ‘she who possesses iron’; a definite nod in the direction of the energy and application of this delightful mountain herb.
Mountain Tea, as its name implies, is most commonly used as a tea. I generally steep it as a gentle infusion, but traditionally it’s made as a decoction. Read on to learn how to make it both ways in your own kitchen- and how to bring out the best in its natural flavors.
Speaking of flavors, I love how Mountain Tea tastes. It’s at once green and bright while also peppery and earthy. The complex flavors remind me of the distinct tapestries of foods in the areas where it grows, and many people use it in culinary creations.
In ancient time, herbalists used Siderities to treat wounds caused by iron weapons. The leaves themselves somewhat resemble the tips of iron weapons. Each leaf is covered in delicate fuzz that’s soft to the touch and deeply comforting. The color is sage green, and the fragrance is truly unique. The flowers are tiny, compact, and yellow and add a lot of color and flavor to the tea. I’ve heard of some people only using the leaves and stems in their Mountain Tea brew but I suggest using the entire above-ground plant to get all of its many energies and therapeutic benefits.
The Health Benefits Of Mountain Tea
As mentioned above, Mountain Tea has ancient roots in herbalism; and the various countries and people who have worked with it have found various healing benefits it offers. Here are a few of the most celebrated:
- Sipping Mountain Tea can help soothe, strengthen, and regulate the digestive process. It’s a wonderful herbal tea to enjoy before, during, or after a meal for those who deal with sluggish or imbalanced digestion issues. It is specifically anti-inflammatory to the GI tract, so any issues that arise from inflammation could be benefited by this tea.
- Because of its history of use in treating iron wounds, I’m happy to enjoy Ironwort herbal tea whenever I get a cut or scrape. I also tuck Ironwort into my pocket along with Yarrow when I work with sharp tools to help protect myself against injury.
- Because of pronounced antioxidant and flavanoid content, Mountain Tea is a wonderful all-purpose ally to the immune system. I like to think of those iron spear-shaped leaves as coming to my own defense when people around me are coming down with cold and flu. It can also be a fantastic and effective sipping tea to work with when you;’re actually sick- the bright notes are uplifting while the peppery, earthy notes help clear and cleanse.
- Hippocrates was a Greek herbalist who lived nearly 2,500 years ago. He loved Mountain Tea for its effects against anxiety, stress, and depression. He worked with Sideritis to lift the mood and ease anxiety, and modern research is showing his work with this herb to be accurate. It turns out that Mountain Tea flavanoids can have a deeply positive effect on better brain and mood function!
How To Make Mountain Tea
There are two simple ways to make Mountain herbal tea at home…
The first is a basic infusion. Just take your Mountain Tea dried plant or tea bag and steep it in hot water for about 6 minutes.
You can also make a stronger brew by gently simmering the herb in a covered non-metallic pot for 15 minutes. This is a decoction and is most appropriate when the herb is being used for deep therapeutic benefits.
I love adding a little local honey to my Mountain Tea- but it tastes great on its own as well!
Here are the Mountain Tea products I use. Click the images for my sources: