Tsai tou vounou (pr. TSAH-ee TOU Vou-NOU) (genus Sideritis , in Greek σιδηρίτις), also known as ironwort, mountain tea and shepherd’s tea, is a genus of flowering plants well known for their use as herbal medicine, commonly as a herbal tea.
They are abundant in Mediterranean regions, the Balkans, the Iberian Peninsula and Macaronesia, but can also be found in Central Europe and temperate Asia.
History and etymology
In Greek Tsai tou Vounou literally means “Mountain Tea”. Sideritis can be literally translated as “made of iron”.
The plant was known to ancient Greeks, specifically Pedanius Dioscorides and Theophrastus. Although Dioscorides describes three species, only one (probably S. scordioides) is thought to belong to Sideritis.
In ancient times some believed that “sideritis” was used to heal wounds caused by iron weapons during battles. However, others hold that the name stems from the shape of the spear-shaped sepal and others because the herb contains a lot of iron.
Health benefits of Tsai tou Vounou
Greek tsai tou vounou is a naturally caffeine-free herbal tea infusion made from the dried flowers, leaves and stems of the Sideritis plant, which flourishes throughout high elevations (above 500 metres) in the mountains of Greece.
For thousands of years, Greeks have been drinking mountain tea for its health benefits and for its pleasant taste. The Greek philosopher and father of modern medicine, Hippocrates, hailed Mountain Tea in particular for its immune and respiratory system benefits.
Listed below are selections of some of the more noteworthy Greek mountain tea health benefits:
- It is Rich with Antioxidants.
- It has anti-inflammatory properties.
- It is rich in iron.
- It aids in dyspepsia, improves digestion and keeps a check on gastrointestinal complaints.
- It strengthens the immune system.
- It strengthens the respiratory system.
- It reduces stress and anxiety.
- Last but not least, it is commonly used to fight off the common cold or flu.
INGREDIENTS TO MAKE ICED TSAI TOU VOUNOU
- Tsai tou Vounou (Greek Mountain Tea)
- Mint Flavoured Green Tea (optional)
- Fresh or dried Mint
- Juice of your preference
- Stevia tablets (or honey, sugar or other sweeteners of your choice)
- Ice cubes
- Lemon Slice
Kettle, electric kettle or pot
Two containers (or 1 large one)
Bottles, to store
Tall glasses, to serve
How to prepare Hot Tsai tou Vounou
Preparing Tsai tou Vounou is very easy. You use both the stems, leaves and flowers of the plant.
All you need to do is to put them in a container and pour boiling water on top. You let them steep for five to ten minutes, depending on how strong you want it and the tea is ready to serve.
Alternatively, you can put them in a pot with water, bring to a boil and let them steep for a couple of minutes.
You can add additional flavour to the tea by adding more herbs, such as mint, lavender or sage, spices such as cinnamon, cloves or cardamom or some lemon juice.
In both cases you pour the tea in a cup, using a strainer to strain the leaves and serve as it is, as it is not bitter. If you like it sweeter you can add some sugar, honey or stevia.
How much Tsai tou vounou do I use?
2 – 3 stems of the plant or 3 grams of mountain tea, broken into smaller pieces is enough to brew two cups.
How to make Iced Tea
Prepare the hot tea, as above, and let it cool.
Prepare some mint tea either using green tea bags flavoured with mint or just dried mint. (Green tea contains caffeine, so if you must avoid caffeine, just use fresh or dried mint).
Let both of them cool, add whatever sweetener you prefer, if you prefer, and mix in the juice.
WHAT SWEETENER CAN I USE?
We can use:
- Stevia (no calories)
- Sugar (1 teaspoon equals 20 calories)
- Honey (1 teaspoon equals 21 calories)
- Natural Fruit Juice (Depending on the fruit). You can see the calories of each fruit in this Table.
- Leftover syrup from fruit preserves. In this case you don’t add the fruit juice. The calories will be more than using just the juice.
Note: For the 2 litres of juice I make, only 500 ml are fruit juice. Two litres tea is about 9 cups. So in each cup, the quantity of juice is only 55 ml.
Depending on the juice you will use, the tea will have a different colour and flavour. I especially prefer, pomegranate, sour cherries, peach or mixed fruit juice.
Refrigerate for a couple of hours and serve with some ice cubes and a slice of lemon.
WHY WE LOVE ICED TSAI TOU VOUNOU!
This Greek Iced Tea is incredibly quick and easy to make. Throughout the summer I like to make and keep this cool drink in my refrigerator, almost once every two days.
It can be stored in the fridge for many days but since we stopped drinking coffee, we drink a lot of iced tea, so the quantity I make only lasts for maximum two days.
It is refreshing and satisfying, the ideal drink to quench a thirst on a hot summer’s day.
There are many occasions when you can serve this amazing tea. This recipe is family friendly so you can serve it to your children and their friends, take on a picnic or to the beach or even to a potluck.
Also, if you’re hosting a party a good host will always have a homemade non-alcoholic drink to serve.
- 12 grams tsai tou vounou
- 1 tea bag green tea (οptional)
- 2 tbsp dried mint
- 1 ½ litres water
- 500 ml juice of your preference
- 4 stevia tablets
- Put the tsai tou vounou, tea bag and dried mint in a container and pour boiling water on top.
- Let them steep for five to ten minutes, depending on how strong you want it.
- Alternatively, you can put them in a pot with water, bring to a boil and let them steep for a couple of minutes.
- At this stage you can add some honey, sugar or stevia to sweeten it.
- Set aside to cool.
- Strain the tea and mix in the juice.
- Refrigerate for a few hours and serve with more ice cubes and a slice of lemon.
For the 2 litres of juice I make, only 500 ml are fruit juice. Two litres tea is about 9 cups. So in each cup, the quantity of juice is only 55 ml.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 9 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 41Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 46mgCarbohydrates: 11gFiber: 0gSugar: 8gProtein: 0g
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