Cretan Mountain Tea

On our recent trip to Crete, we were introduced to traditional Mountain Tea, and suddenly began to see it and hear about it everywhere we went. Many Cretans were eager to share with us the powerful healing properties of this tea, and to suggest that we should drink it every day. It is especially recommended for use if someone has a stomachache or feels a cold coming on. It is said to be a cure-all.

Crete has been historically known to have the highest rates of longevity and lowest rates of virtually all diseases. We asked several people over the age of 50 what they believed was the cause of this, and one of the most common answers was: the wild herbs that grow here, especially the Mountain Tea.

Mountain Tea is also called Shepherd’s Tea. This is because shepherds would use the plant for making tea while tending their flock in the mountains. Another name for Mountain Tea is Ironwort. This name comes from ancient Greek mythology, where stories of battle would include using this plant to cure wounds inflicted by weapons made of iron. The plant grows at high altitudes, with little water and little soil. It is comprised of long, slightly fuzzy stems, with multiple yellow flowers that are in full bloom in July in the Mediterranean, the time when this plant is wild harvested. Very little cultivation of this plant occurs because it grows so abundantly in the wild.

The tea is also commonly called MAAOTHPA by Greeks (pronounced Malotira). We saw bags of dried Mountain Tea for sale everywhere we went, often combined with dried wild marjoram, as the flavors blend together so well. We prepared this tea in the little kitchenette of the small apartment we were renting during our stay in Chania. Soon we were hooked! We love the aromatic, slightly floral, slightly earthy taste, and the golden color. It’s even more flavorful when you add the local honey.

To make the tea: boil a pot of water, add the dried stems (with leaves & flowers attached) to the pot. Reduce heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Strain and drink.

Upon further research, we found that this plant does indeed possess a wide array of healing properties, the rumors are true!

Its medicinal actions are: anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-oxidant. It is used to prevent colds, flu, fevers, allergies and respiratory problems. It aids digestion by reducing inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract, and is commonly used to sooth stomachaches. It lowers blood pressure by dilating blood vessels. It also helps to reduce anxiety.

What’s not to love about Mountain Tea? The only downside is that it does not grow in North America. If you’re not able to make a trip to Crete to stock up on Mountain Tea, we recommend checking out a Greek market in your area. But if there aren’t any nearby, you can always buy it online. Here is a link to one supplier.







 The Next Session Starts Soon!

The Mediterranean Way 10 Week Diet & Lifestyle program teaches you everything you need to know to easily and deliciously get the benefits of the proven healthy Mediterranean diet. Meal Plans, Recipes, Shopping Lists, Weekly Challenges and Lessons, Private Facebook Support Group, Cooking Videos and more!

Learn More →


“This program is a way of life, one which I have adopted successfully, and more importantly one which I have sustained for over one year now. My weight remains steady at 160 pounds (down from 216). My energy levels rival that of someone 20 years younger than me (I’m now 57), enabling me to exercise in any way that I desire, from lifting weights to intense cardio sessions.”
— Michael Little

“After completing my 10-week program, I had a regularly-scheduled appointment with my doctor. Because my cholesterol has always been above the normal range (229 last year) I requested that she test it again this year. I’m happy to report that my total cholesterol dropped to 169, which is in the normal range, and all my other numbers improved as well.”
— Claire C.

Learn More →

Foods of Crete Cookbook

"The scientifically acclaimed “Mediterranean Diet” is presented at its best here, with the liberal use of olive oil and plenty of vegetable and fish dishes in addition to mezedes (appetizers), meat dishes, desserts, and pretty much every Cretan dish you can think of." - Mary

Read more and buy →


  1. madmom.sharon January 6, 2015 at 4:53 pm - Reply

    How many of the stalks would you use for a couple of cups of tea? I just ordered some from amazon, thinking it would have a recipe, but it doesn’t. I live alone and just wanted to make one or two cups.

    • Christine Dutton January 20, 2015 at 7:18 pm - Reply

      To make the Cretan Mountain Tea:

      Place 3-4 stalks of the dried plant with leaves and flowers in a pot, and pour 3 cups of water over it. Bring to a low boil, and then reduce heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Since you are using the stalks, you need to simmer it to get the full benefit.

      A general rule for making tea is to use 1 tablespoon of the dried herb per cup of water.
      Enjoy your tea!

Leave A Comment

Mediterranean Living

Our Newsletter

Get seasonal recipe ideas as well as special offers on our online programs, live webinars and video releases. Sent once a week.