Greeks have been savvy about both the culinary and therapeutic values of herbs for eons. The profuse use of herbs, both in cooking and as infusions, is something one encounters all over the country. So many herbs grow wild, but most people also cultivate them for personal use. In my own summer garden on Ikaria, we have two kinds of mint, oregano, two types of sage, louiza, lemon balm, various varieties of basil, fennel, parsley, and coriander growing.
Herbal teas are a salve for so many ailments. One of my favorites is mint tea, typically made with dried (or, in more contemporary kitchens like mine, fresh) doublemint, dyosmos in Greek. Mint is filled with nutritional value. It is one of the herbs richest in iron and magnesium and is chock full of polyphenols, the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities of which are beneficial to our health.
Drink a delicious cup of mint tea or toss a handful of fresh mint into a pitcher of ice water on a hot summer day.
In the Greek kitchen, mint is one of the most popular herbs, used to season the majority of savory greens and vegetable pies, Greek meatballs (keftedakia), salads, and so much more.
To make mint tea: Bring a kettle of water to a boil and pour some into a tea pot or cup. Steep the mint for several minutes and strain to serve. You can make mint tea with either fresh or dried mint. For dried mint use approximately one tsp. per cup; for fresh, measure out 2 tsp of fresh leaves per cup.