John Sibthorp (1758 – 1796) was an English botanist, borned in Oxford. An ambitious scientist who wished to leave his mark in the field of botany, he decided to travel to Greece in order to study Europe's last unexplored plants. With a copy of Dioscorides' De Materia Medica, as his guide and the company of Ferdinand Lucas Bauer, a botanical illustrator, Sibthorp recorded about 2,500 Greek medical plants, of which 700 had never been classified before. The material which Sibthorp brought back to the University of Oxford included thousands of samples of plants, sketches, as well as notes on the flora which he was unable to complete given that he died of consumption during a second trip to Greece. “Flora Graeca” was eventually published after his death and was proved quite a publishing and scientific sensation at the time and Sibthorp contributed to the international dissemination of Greek plants and the overall development of botany.
That richness and diversity of Greek flora that was seen by the Sibthrop back then is still little apreciated. Greece is primarily a mountainous country and some of its mountains form the most interesting botanical localities. Unfortunately only a small proportion of botanical plants have been investigated and chemically characterized.
But if we look back to the old form of Cretan Diet, herbal drinks like malotira, dittany, sage, marjoram mint and linden were a very important part of the daily life, which we now tend to ignore. Their consumption dates back to ancient times, when the Greek philosopher Hippocrates was referring to Mountain Tea as a panacea.
As for the most known Greek herb, Sideritis (Greek mountain tea), more and more contemporary scientific studies are finding numerous health benefits to its consumption.
Naturally caffeine-free, Sideritis is rich in antioxidants and contains significant amounts of flavonoids and polyphenols. It has been proven to be as potent as Green tea at inducing cellular antioxidant defenses and reducing oxidative stress. A growing body of published research shows promising results for its use in the prevention of osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease and even cancer. It also has demonstrated a positive effect on other ailments, including colds, fevers, respiratory problems and digestion problems, and anxiety.
HOW TO BREW
Bring freshly drawn, cold water to a boil in a kettle.
When water is at a gentle boil, remove heat.
Pour hot water into teapot and teacups and pour off. By warming the cups, the water temperature will be more consistent.
Add the proper amount of tea leaves per person to the pot.
Allow water to cool to the proper temperature, if necessary, and pour over the tea leaves.
Steep for 8-10 minutes.
Strain completely into the serving cups.
Put the herbs into a glass bottle and fill it with lukewarm water.
You should need one to two teaspoons of herbal blend for one glass of water.
Rinse the herbs with boiling water before sinking them into the bottle of water. This is also a good method to sanitise the herbs.
Put the bottle into the refrigerator and let it rest for about 12 hours.
Strain and serve.
Follow the hot brew instructions and pour the infusion in a glass filled with ice. As the ice will dilute the flavours, you need to make an extra strong brew at the beging. You can also add a stem of mint, rosemary, lavender or any other herb into your glass, or lemon and organge slices.