This iconic herb is known by many names and by many different type of species, increasing its demand and its mystery. This herb has been mentioned in text as far back as in the Bible to even in current events throughout the world today.
Different names of this herb come in many words and phrases but the end result is always the same, a delicious herb that is the center-stone of any Middle Eastern food and culture. Used as seasoning and eaten for breakfast, brunch, lunch, linner, dinner and any other daily meals that I may have forgotten. From seasoning bread, salads, popcorn to even seasoning plain ice cream.
The names for Zaatar are many, the following is a list of the names used:
- Biblical Hyssop, Bible Hyssop, Basil Thyme
- Cleopatra Oregano
- Egyptian Marjoram
- Ezob, Ezov
- Holy Hyssop, Hyssopus Officinalise
- Karakekik, Kekik
- Lebanese Oregano, Lebanese Marjoram
- Marjoram Syriaca, Middle Eastern Oregano, Majorana Syriaca
- Origanum Onites, Origanum Syriacum, Origanum Vulgare Syriacum
- Pot Marjoram
- Syrian Marjoram, Syrian Oregano, Syrian Wild Marjoram, Syrian Hyssop, Satar, Syriaca Zaatar
- Thymbra Spicata, True Za’tar, Turkish Oregano
- Wild Za’atar, Wild Middle Eastern Oregano, Wild Thyme, White Oregano
- Zaatar, Zatar, Zahtar, Zahter, Zaater, Za’tar, Zatr, Zattr, Zahatar, Zaktar, Zubayr, Zuheif
My Passion for Zaatar
I fell in love with zaatar when I was a very young. I would eat it as much as I could. I loved it and still do on fresh baked flat bread with olive oil, also including the other ways this amazing herbal mix can be used.
For how much I love zaatar, I mean I even created a website focusing on this herb and herbal mix, I would be so disappointed with the quality of zaatar mix in this country, USA. From Los Angeles, Fresno to San Francisco, the zaatar are lousy. You do not know how many countless times that I look at fresh pile of man’oushe (flat baked bread with zaatar mix and oil) and say to myself that I hope this is going to be good. I then find out that the zaatar is lousy and tasteless after the first bite. Most zaatar mixes taste like soil and very old. There are rumors that store bought imported zaatar has ground twigs, soil and other impurities in it to produce the mix cheaply).
Realization of the Need for Zaatar
The same year my first child was born, I decided to search far and wide (meaning the internet) to find the names, species and ideal growth habits of plants that are referred to as Zaatar. It was extremely difficult but through asking and word of mouth I found many of the herbs that are considered to be zaatar in many countries, I have propagated them and have been growing them ever since.
Mind you, some of these herbs that are considered zaatar have been said by
professional chefs in media interviews that you will not find them outside of the countries of Israel, Lebanon and Syria.
Well, I have, grow and propagate those EXACT herbs, right down to the EXACT binomial nomenclature in the United States of America, in Fresno, California.
Not only do I grow a variety of herbs that are called Zaatar, but I also grow herbs that are typically added to tweak the original herbal mixture recipe.
Brainstorming about Zaatar
I have always been gardening my entire life. I love it so much I can’t sleep because I am thinking about it. So when I heard many, many, MANY people that came to the United States from the Middle East and say things such as, “Why can’t I find Wild Thyme?” “All the zaatar tastes horrible here.” “I can’t believe that I have wait for one of the friends or family members to return from the Middle East to bring me good zaatar.”
Market for Zaatar
I have been hearing this for quite sometime and with me having a good sense of business and a Master’s Degree in Business on top of that, I saw a great opportunity for a open market with high demand.
Path to Growing Zaatar
I first started by propagating as much zaatar herbs as I could, getting all the way up to around 1,000 plants of just only one type of zaatar herb. I didn’t realize how much yield of leaves these plants would produce, pounds and pounds of it. Today, I have much more plants, well over 1,000 of them and of different zaatar herb variety from different country origins.
I decided to grow and propagate many different herbs that are deemed Zaatar by different cultures. I began growing different herbs, due to people telling me “That is not the Zaatar I grew up with when I was a child in the old country.” Instead of getting upset or annoyed, I simply researched which herb was growing wild in their country and then grew and propagated those herbs as well.
Over this time and even while I am typing this page I am researching this mystical
plant. I never thought I would be this fascinated with a plant in my life. I am extremely passionate about zaatar herbs and the herbal mix, of course only homemade zaatar mixes.
Wake Up Call – Zaatar
Like I just stated, I am very passionate, but it wasn’t until I brought some of my
freshly cut zaatar herbs to a cultural Middle Eastern event. I knew that I would get questions and people wondering what these fresh cut herbs were that I brought but I didn’t expect what happened. I brought the bags of herbs and displayed the herbs on the table for people to use on their food, take home, etc. but the response I got is something that I would never forget.
I placed the herbs on a big table and was prepared to answer questions. As I looked up after laying the herbs on the table I saw everyone (all individuals that were born and raised in Lebanon and in Syria) stop moving, stop talking and staring at the table of herbs.
It was like things were moving in slow motion, the music felt like it even stopped. One of them put their hand softly on my shoulder while he walked closer to the table and stared at the herbs. A couple of people had tears in their eyes. One person said, “I can’t believe it, are you kidding me?” One of the women that was tearing up stated, “I remember this plant when I would run in the mountains in Lebanon with my cousins, I haven’t seen these plants in over 30 years.” A man, friend of mine, to spin off of what she said stated “I use to go through the hills and mountains to pick them for my mother so she could make food with them.” Another man stated, “I pick them in the wild and presented them to my new Mother-in-Law as a gesture of love.” Keep in mind that they didn’t even touch, smell or taste the zaatar herb yet. Just the sight of it made them reflect on younger times. I did not expect these responses, I was speechless.
If you have any comments or questions, please visit our Contact Us page.