I’ve always been a major fan of fresh herbs –to season foods, give salads the perfect flavour and steeped in hot water to make a heartwarming tea.
Whenever I can, I pick my own from my little balcony or a friend’s country garden, or just buy bunches at the local markets and traditional or bio stores. The soothing quality of a cup of hot herbal tea in winter or iced tea in summer is delightful and, knowing that herbs have so many health benefits just adds to the pleasure.
Top-quality, organic, pesticide-free Greek herbal teas have become a big thing in recent years, with many small producers creating excellent blends, often sold in trendy, sophisticated packaging.
One of my favourites is ANASSA tea. To be honest, as a sucker for refined aesthetics, it was their beautiful packaging that first drew me to their fragrant and tasteful blends.
Starting with the outside, I liked the modern, sleek and minimal light grey metal boxes with illustrations of Grecian Gods; my favourite blend, Happiness, is represented by Pegasus, the divine winged horse, and contains a lovely and uplifting mix of savoury Mountain Tea (shown to have as many antioxidants like green tea and known to boost brain function, especially as prevention and even cure for Alzheimer’s), cool Mint, intense Sage and uplifting Lemon balm.
Upon opening the box, you get an elevating whiff of aromatic herbs and find something completely unique – a packet of biodegradable tea bags and a bunch of thin wooden sticks to thread through them and rest the teabag on the rim of your cup as the tea steeps. Talking of cups they have even designed a glass mug with the word “δες” inside, meaning “see”, which reflects beautifully on the sides as you drink.
Anassa (pronounced with an accent on the first ‘A’, and meaning queen in ancient Greek, but, cleverly, also meaning ‘breath’ when pronounced with the accent on the second ‘a’) was the brainchild of duo Aphrodite Florou and Yanna Mattheou, whose motto is: “Live Organic, Pick Greek, Enjoy thoroughly!”. Both with a solid background in entrepreneurial positions, they successfully combined their love of nature, passion for medicinal and aromatic local herbs, and an inherent desire to work with 100% bio small producers around the country on fair trade terms, with a team of marketing-savvy designers.
The herbs are handpicked, and the clearing is done manually so as to preserve all valuable ingredients. They are then dehydrated using the most contemporary methods in order to fully retain the aroma and vivid colours of the herbs as well as their precious essential oils. Apart from the multitude of information gathered about Greek herbs since ancient times in herbal bibles such as the Materia Medica, Mattheou and Florou also worked closely with a scientific team in selecting the herbs they would be using and the blends they were creating. So here’s to a regular cup of their excellent tea!