One of Greece’s best kept secrets — mountain tea — is about to go mainstream. The goodness of the Greek mountainside is available in the US, thanks to Klio Greek Mountain Tea.
People are drinking more tea these days, noting the myriad health benefits. Greece’s unique herbal teas, cultivated in the mountains of Greece, are now easily accessible in the US, thanks to Santa-Barbara, CA-based Klio.
Curiosity Sparks a Business Idea
Steve Raftopoulos, who traces his Greek roots to Athens and Corinth, grew up in the South, but later lived in New York, and moved to California five years ago. In 2012, he was in a Greek store in LA stocking up on large cans of Cretan olive oil, and spotted a basket with small packages of Greek mountain tea.
“I recalled that my mom often talked about Greek mountain tea, and being a tea drinker, I bought some to try. I quickly became addicted to it and started drinking it several times a day. After doing some research, I became familiar with the various health properties, phyto-nutrients, and antioxidants. From there I learned more about Greek herbs in general, and how special they are in the world of herbs, in terms of quality and health properties.”
In his research, he noted that there were no branded lines of Greek herbal tea outside of Greece. The former JPMorgan mergers & acquisitions banker took all the knowledge he acquired on Wall Street, added his love for the teas and their benefits with his wish to share them with the world, plus his desire to develop commerce with Greece, and created the brand Klio Greek Herbal Tea. A cousin in Greece helped to develop a supply chain.
Inspired by a muse
When Steve was considering names for his business, he found inspiration in his Greek roots.
“I wanted a name that was short and easy to pronounce. The name was inspired by the Greek Muse of History and daughter of Zeus, whose name was Klio, sometimes spelled Clio or Kleio.”
Where does the tea come from?
The mountain tea is grown on Mt. Othrys, in the region of Magnisia, Greece, on small plots of land at elevations over 3,000 feet. They are harvested by hand by local Greek villagers, using traditional methods. The teas arrive from Greece by ship at the Port of LA and are tested in the US by a third party laboratory to determine the antioxidant and phyto-nutrient content. They are packed loose leaf and single-variety, at the Santa Barbara facility.
All Klio teas have been certified organic by the European Union and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).They are offered in their original form, single varietal, not processed or blended with flavor additives, so they can be enjoyed the same way that the Ancient Greeks did.
IMAGE: Klio Mountain Tea
Why are Greek teas so healthy?
Greece is home to some 8,000 different herbs, and they play a significant role in the Mediterranean diet. For centuries, many of these herbs have been used as teas because of the health and medicinal benefits. Greek herbal teas are characterized by significant health properties and unique flavor profiles.
The arid environment, substantial sunshine hours, and rocky soils of the mountains and foothills of the Greek countryside represents a unique “terroir”, resulting in aromatic herbs of
exceptional quality with high concentrations of essential oils and phyto-nutrients.
Greek herbal teas have significant antioxidant properties resulting from their content of phyto-nutrients such as polyphenols and flavonoids. These compounds are important to achieving
optimal health and are believed to offer protection from age-related diseases. In fact, a recent study published in the Society of Chemical Industry found Greek mountain tea to be as potent as the highly revered Green tea at inducing cellular antioxidant defenses and reducing oxidative stress.
Our yiayias knew what they were doing when they used these herbs as natural remedies, like boiling chamomile for tea to alleviate stomach issues. This wisdom is true and still relevant.
Currently, the following teas are sold on their website (with free shipping). Each tea is from a specified origin within Greece.
- Greek Mountain Tea (Tsai Tou VouNou)
- Greek Sage Tea (Faskomilo)
- Greek Lemon Verbena (Luiza)
- Greek Chamomile (Chamomili) – currently sold out
- Greek Sea Buckthorn Leaf (Hippophaes)
- Greek Olive Leaf (Fyllo Elias) – coming soon
The teas are earthy but light in profile, and easy to drink. Add a touch of lemon or honey if you wish, but they’re enjoyable all by themselves. I’m drinking some right now!
There’s more to come
While the teas are gaining in popularity, Steve won’t rest on his laurels. In the coming months, he plans to introduce a Greek mountain tea from Mt. Olympus.
“The Olympus variety has a different aroma and flavor profile than its counterpart from Mt. Othrys,” he explained.
He is also exploring a bottled ready-to-drink version of Greek mountain tea.
In the future, look for additional teas from other regions of Greece. Soon, all health-conscious people will be drinking Greek herbal teas, thanks to Klio Greek Herbal Tea.
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