The Unique Foods of Greece and Their Healthy Benefits – Malotira, Cretan mountain tea (Sideritis Syriaca)

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” -Hippocrates

The Unique Foods of Greece and Their Healthy Benefits – Malotira, Cretan mountain tea 

(Sideritis Syriaca

Since ancient times, Greeks have known how precious Mother Nature’s gifts were. The Mediterranean climate along with the geological formations of the country created fertile ground where an abundance of wild herbs and plants could grow. Today, there are about 1800 endemic species that grow on Greek soil, with certified medicinal properties, this month we review Malotira, Cretan mountain tea!

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” -Hippocrates

ORIGIN AND TRAITS

Malotira is a herb known since the age of Dioskourides (1st century AD) that has always grown in the mountains of Western Crete – Lefka Ori and Psiloritis with altitudes of 900-2000m (2952- 6561 ft.). Cretans were quick to discover its medicinal properties and began using the plant to treat common colds as well as diseases of the stomach and respiratory tract. When Venetian conquerors were introduced to the medicinal herb, they named it Malotira after the Latin words male (illness) and tirare (drag, push away); the panacea that pushes away all illness.

Malotira is a popular aromatic herb. It is a perennial whose height ranges from 10 to 50 cm (3, 9 – 19, 6 inches). Its branches are thin, round and covered in fuzz and its leaves are 1-6 cm (0, 39 – 2, 4 inches) long, thick and succulent. The plant produces corymbs of yellowish flowers.

The herb blooms from late June till the end of July and it is collected from May to August, during its flowering. Malotira is an endemic plant of Crete; it does not grow anywhere else in the world…

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