Mountain tea is made using the dried leaves and flowers of Sideritis plants (ironwort). The tea is aptly named: the plant used to make it is found on rocky slopes at elevations over 1000 meters (3,200 feet). These plants are hardy flowering perennials that have adapted to survive with little water and little soil. Only two types of this plant are cultivated - Sideritis raeseri in Greece, and Sideritis scardica in Bulgaria; otherwise, these and other types are gathered in the wild.
Mountain Tea is known by a wide variety of names in different areas:
Mountain Tea is enormously popular in the Balkans (Turkey, Bulgaria, Greece, the Republic of Macedonia and Albania) and used most often in winter when levels of physical activity decrease and colds, aches, and pains increase. It is said to have a positive effect on almost anything that ails but, most notably, it is used for colds, respiratory problems, digestion, the immune system, mild anxiety, and as an anti-oxidant. It is also used as an anti-inflammatory and to reduce fever.
Mountain tea is traditionally used to fight the common cold, flu and allergies. Other traditional uses are for soothing breathing difficulties, aiding digestion, strengthening the immune system, and calming mild anxiety. It is also used to relieve sinus congestion.
Scientists recently suggested that the traditional Balkan 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 it also has distinct anti-oxidant properties. The studies also indicate Mountain Tea has a positive effect on almost anything that ails.
Mountain tea is known scientifically to be anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-oxidant. The active elements in Mountain tea that make it beneficial for health are diterpenoids, flavonoids, and its essential oils. Significant research has been done on Mountain tea confirming its popular use to prevent colds, flu, and allergies. Its Rhodopian reputation as a virility aid, however, is less scientific! Local folk will assure you that if aspiring parents take it while trying for a baby, the odds of having twins are greatly improved.
Sideritis scardica is protected by law in Bulgaria. Very few are permitted to harvest it, and fewer still to cultivate it. Lyuben Ushev is renowned throughout the region. His family have been cultivating Mursalski Tea since he inherited the plantation from his father, and to this day the whole family are involved in the business, carefully following the priciples of natural cultivation and hand picking that have been the hallmark of Mursalski Tea down the generations. (Some producers "mow" the tea for tea-bag production, with obvious consequences for quality).
Mursalski Tea is the premium Mountain Tea available - organically grown, hand harvested and bunched, and despatched by Balkan Herbs directly to you from Bulgaria. Mursalski Tea is the only Mountain tea to have been awarded the prestigious Green Apple award in 2007 and Green Hero status (in 2008) by the Green Organisation , presented to Lyuben in person by David Bellamy.
Bring to the boil a sprig of Mursalski Tea in 250 ml fresh water (or 4 sprigs in 1 liter ) and then brew for 5 minutes, until the colour becomes yellow. Filter and add sugar or honey to taste. Best effect is achieved when using the stalk once.
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