I've been in a very nostalgic mood lately, and I blame it all on this tea. I brought it back from Greece this summer, and it's been sitting in my cupboard ever since. I finally brewed a pot this weekend, and now I can't get memories of Greece out of my head.
Greek mountain tea (tsai tou vounou) is made of the dried flowers and leaves of the ironwort plant (sideritis), and is reputed to be good for whatever ails ya- digestion, respiratory problems, anxiety, you name it. It's available everywhere in Greece- and it's cheap, too. I got this huge bag at a supermarket chain in the Peloponnese for less than 1 euro (~$1.50).
The use of ironwort in the Mediterranean as an herbal remedy goes back thousands of years- Dioscorides, a physician born in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey) in the 1st century A.D., mentions the plant in his work De Materia Medica, a pharmaceutical encyclopedia.
The tea came in a huge bag of whole dried stalks. Not knowing how much to brew, or what part of the plant you use (flowers? leaves? the whole thing?), I crumbled up a few buds and steeped with a cup of hot (just off boiling) water. The resulting tea was bright, floral, lemony and herby-- tasting, strangely, exactly the way the Greek countryside smells in the spring and summer. I love it.
It makes an nice evening brew, as it's caffeine-free and very soothing. One of my fellow archaeologists on the project I worked on this summer used to brew up some iced mountain tea in a water bottle and bring it out to work- I'll have to try that too.
I've never seen mountain tea for sale in the U.S., but I imagine you might find it at some Mediterranean or specialty stores. Or, failing that, there's always the miracle of the internet.