Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Teas & Trees: Erodas and Sideritis, Looking at Cretan Herbal Teas

Each culture of the world has its own native herbs that it turns into some sort of tea like drink, it is actually one of my passions, finding out all the various plants that people around the world drink, be it for medicinal reasons or just because it tastes good, it is a good way to try something new and learn about a culture's medical and culinary tradition. Today I am finishing out the teas sent to me by Teas & Trees, from the home of the Minoan Civilization, and possibly with a history as old, Erodas and Sideritis!

Sideritis

Also known as Mountain Tea, Malotira, Shepard's Tea, or Ironwort, it was known as a bit of a panacea back in the time of the Ancient Greeks (the name sideritis is a reference to its ability to heal wounds made of Iron) and I am no professional herbalist so I won't make the same claim, I will say it is immensely soothing to drink during allergy season! The aroma of the wonderfully fuzzy (and certainly not small) leaves, stems, and flower stalks is sweet, like fresh hay and flower pollen, with undertones of camphor, sage, and dill. It is a very herbaceous....well...herb, but it is on the sweet side over green or savory. This tea takes well to gongfuing and western style, the taste is light and sweet, with notes of sage and dill, honey and pollen, with a slightly citrus and menthol finish. The texture is really fun, light while also being thick and with an immense amount of fuzzies! If you are going the gongfu route it can get a bunch of steeps!

Erodas

You probably know this one as Dittany of Crete, it is probably the plant's more common name, this plant also has quite the history of medicinal properties, even being mentioned in the Aeneid where Venus uses it to heal Aeneas (I would have just left him injured, he is kinda a jerk) I of course can't help but wonder if it was used by Venus because its association with love or became a plant associated with love because of that scene in the Aeneid. The aroma of this tea (also immensely fuzzy, with very pretty leaves) is a blend of sage, celery, parsley, thyme, and menthol, not a lot of sweetness here, this one is all herbaceous and green. Steeping this tea was a blast, it is so fuzzy, and all the trichomes happily floating on top of the water was very pretty, also the few leaves that escaped my gaiwan and floated in my fish cup reminded me of lily pads. Wow, this tea is fuzzy! The mouthfeel is ticklish and very cooling, I feel as though I just had a burst of mint's cooling goodness in my mouth. The taste is very green and herbaceous, notes of sage, celery, parsley, thyme, with a touch of bitterness at the finish that is not at all unpleasant, very much so the bitterness of herbs, I found it pleasantly refreshing. This cooling and fuzzy tea is perfect on allergy day (as is sideritis) and feel very soothing when your throat is ragged from coughing!

Both teas sent for review

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