Tasty Homemade Zaatar Herb Mix

The following is a link of a quick video of this Zaatar Herb Tea Mix.

I love going through my herb garden and looking for different herbs to make tea mixes.  Recently our family went through a bit of a chest and head cold.

To help elevate the discomfort of having a head and chest cold, I went out and gathered fresh herbs to create an herbal tea.

Zaatar Herb Tea Mix 1
Keeping Zaatar Herbs moist and cleaning with cool water.

A hint with collecting herbs for immediate use is while collecting herbs you place the freshly cut herbs into a bowl of cool water.  This helps the herbs stay fresh longer and retain a healthy level of essential oils within the leaves and stems.

Zaatar Herb Tea Mix 2
My own Special Combination of Zaatar Herb Tea Mix.

The image above is the Special Zaatar Herb Tea Mix that I gathered.

List of the herbs and spices starting from the bottom corner working clockwise:

Herbs (grown from home garden)

Spices (in the center of the plate – bought from store)

  • Star of Anise
  • Cloves
  • Cinnamon Stick
Zaatar Herb Tea Mix 3
Zaatar Herb Tea Mix Brewing.

I added all of the herbs and spices into my tea kettle, added about 1 tablespoon of raw honey and let it boil for about 5 minutes.

Drinking the tea definitely help sooth my throat, lessen my cough and made me feel calm.

**These are only my observation of myself, please consult your physician if you feel or are ill.

How to make Zaatar Spice

The most important use of the herb Origanum Syriacum (a type of Zaatar plant) is by making Zaatar Spice.

Step 1

First step in make Zaatar Spice is by taking the Zaatar herb leaves off of the plant.

Bundle of crushed Zaatar
Grabbing a big clump of freshly dried Zaatar.

Step 2

Place raw Sesame Seeds into a frying pan and roast on top of a stove (preferably a gas stove).

Sesame Seeds Zaatar
Another key ingredient in Zaatar mix is Sesame Seeds.
Roasted Sesame Seeds Zaatar
Sesame Seeds in a frying pan till roasted.

Step 3

Add Sumac or Sumaq to Zaatar leaves.  Sumac is a red berry that will add tartness to the Zaatar Spice.

Sumac
Sumac adds tartness to the Zaatar mix.
Sumac and Zaatar
Add Sumac to the dry Zaatar herbs.

Step 4

Add the roasted Sesame Seeds to the Zaatar Spice mix.

Sesame Seed & Zaatar
Mix roasted Sesame Seeds into Zaatar mix.

Step 5

Place the Zaatar Spice into a mortar and pestle or electric blender.  Crush the mix till there is a soft and fluffy consistency.

Crush Zaatar Mix
Crush Zaatar in Mortar and Pestle
Add Zaatar mixture to Blener
Blender is just as good as using a mortar and pestle with mixing Zaatar.

Step 6

Add additional spices – Salt, crushed dried garbanzo beans, cumin, fennel, anise, etc..

** I do not add anything else but Zaatar herbs, Sumac & Sesame Seeds. **

Step 7 – Optional

I always test my mix by placing a small amount of Zaatar Spice with olive oil to see the ratio of sumac, zaatar herb and sesame seeds within the mix.  Creating a small amount of Zaatar Paste is key to testing your newly created Zaatar Spice mix.

Zaatar Olive Oil Test
Testing Zaatar Mix Consistency.

Origanum Syriacum

Origanum Syriacum

Origanum Syriacum
Origanum Syriacum, the true Zaatar Plant.

Known by many other names:

  • Wild Zaatar Oregano
  • Lebanese Oregano
  • Holy Hyssop
  • Syrian Oregano
  • Bible Hyssop

 

Origanum Syriacum grows wild throughout the mountain regions of Lebanon, Israel, Jordan and Syria (Syria = SYRIAcum).

Out of all the different plant varieties of Zaatar that I grow, Origanum Syriacum has the greatest numbing effect on the tongue, especially when eaten fresh.  So strong that I would not be surprised if the people in Middle Eastern history, chewed on this plant before dental work, haha.

Origanum Syriacum Flowers
Flower clusters of Origanum Syriacum

I will also admit that out of all the different plant varieties of Zaatar that I grow, Origanum Syriacum is the most difficult.  Don’t get me wrong, this plant is TOUGH, its growth patterns spreads almost like mint and bugs LOVE this plant.

When you smell Origanum Syriacum, is blends the scents of Thyme, Oregano and Marjoram.  There are many people that, when creating their own Zahtar mix, use oregano, thyme and marjoram to mimic the smell and taste of this one plant.

Origanum Syriacum can grow all year round (I cover the plant if temperatures go below freezing).  Although the plant can be grown all year-round, spring and summer is the only time in which the leaves are at their highest potency and edible.

Origanum Syriacum produces an essiential oil, carvacrol.  Carcacrol possesses antiseptic properties.  Origanum Syriacum also has thymol, a terpenoid that helps inhibit harmful bacteria.  Thymol is also an active ingredient in most commercially produced cleansing mouthwashes.

I typically get about 3 cuttings from this plant throughout the year.  This plant is a heavy producer of leaves.

This plant grows straight upwards to about 2.5 feet.

It can take really hot weather, also with minimal water intake, in fact the less water it receives the stronger the smell and flavor become.

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Drying Zaatar Herbs

About three (3) times a year you can cut your Zaatar plants to use.

Bundle of Zaatar
Freshly cut bundle of Zaatar.

Growing not just Zaatar plants but any herb plant is extremely easy.

Freshly Cut Zaatar
Cutting fresh Zaatar from my garden.

After you cut your Zaatar herbs you must wash them in cold water, let them sit for awhile so you can ensure that all, if any, bugs are flushed out.

Cleaning Zaatar
Cleaning the Zaatar before drying.

Ensure that after washing off your Zaatar that the leaves are as dry as they can be.

DO NOT leave too much water on the leaves of the Zaatar or the color will darken/blacken and the taste will diminish.

The best way, in my opinion to ensure that as much water gets removed from the leaves is by utilizing a salad spinner.

Salad Spinner Zaatar
A salad spinner is the best way to dry wet Zaatar leaves.

Set your Zaatar in a dark room, spread out evenly and temperature ranging from 70-75 degrees F.  Ensure that, at least, for the first day that there is air movement in the drying room (a small fan would do).

Collection of Zaatar
Zaatar before drying

Then after three (3) days your Zaatar herbs are completely dry.

Dried Zaatar
Zaatar fully dried.

Labneh with Zaatar Mix

One of my favorite ways to make Labneh for breakfast.

Son adding mint to Labneh
My son, Shant, helping top labneh with crushed mint

Step 1

Start by spreading labneh onto a plate and then adding a spoonful of pepper paste.

Pepper Paste and Labneh
Add a spoonful of Pepper Paste into labneh

Step 2

Mix the pepper paste with the labneh.

Mixed Pepper Paste and Labne
Mix the pepper paste into the labne

Step 3

Chop olives (preferably salty, pickled olives) and mix with labneh.

Olives and Labneh
Cut olives into the labneh and mix

Step 4

 

Labneh Seasonings
Add Sumac, Mint & Zaatar Mix

Step 5

Add spices/seasonings (Wild Zaatar, Mint & Sumac).

Add Olive Oil.

Labneh Seasonings
Add Sumac, Mint & Zaatar Mix

Step 6

Add fresh cut tomatoes.

Labne and Tomatoes
Add Tomatoes to your Labne

 

Final

Lebanese Breakfast Labneh Zaatar
Ready to dig into our Labneh breakfast

Caraway Thyme

Thymus Herba Barona

Caraway Thyme
Caraway Thyme is a great substitute for caraway.

One of the fastest growing thyme plants in the world.

This is my favorite thyme to grow, the reason, it is the fastest growing thyme.  There is joke, when growing Thyme, it takes THYME to grow.  Ha ha.  Well that joke doesn’t apply to this frisky plant.

Produces a very pungent, sweet smell reminiscent of Caraway.  Caraway is a spice that is often used to enhance the flavor of some Zaatar mixes.

Not only does Caraway Thyme grow the fastest, but it also is, in my opinion, the most attractive thyme.

Herba Barona, translates to Herb of Beef.  In medieval times, this plant was used to spice meat that has gone past its expiration date.

Caraway Thyme only grows about 4 inches tall (very short plant), but can spread out far and fast.

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Bee on Pink Savory

Pink Savory and Bees go hand and hand.

Bee on Pink Savory
Bees Love Pink Savory Flowers.

Out of all the different variety of Zaatar plants that I grow, Pink Savory is the one that bees love the most.

Here are some ideas/observations that I have on the reason(s) why:

  • Flowers smell sweet
  • Leaves smell sweet
  • Spiciest leaves of all the Zaatar plants
  • Most Productive Flowers of any Zaatar Variety

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Satureja Montana

Winter Savory

Winter Savory
Winter Savory is extremely spicy.

Satureja Montana or Winter Savory is a very spicy herb.

Winter Savory is a very easy to grow perennial herb.

It is not tasty enough, by itself, to be the main herb in a Zaatar mix.  Although, if you mix Winter Savory with other herbs, such as Thymbra Spicata or Coridothymus Capitatus, then Satureja Montana does itself well by providing a semi-sweet & very spicy addition.

Satureja Montana grows to about one foot high.

Needs full sun and the really good drainage, more than the other Zaatar plants

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Pink Savory

Satureja Thymbra

Pink Savory
Spicy scent of Pink Savory.

Known as different names:

  • Pink Savory
  • Barrel Sweetner

Do not let this small herb fool you.  Pink Savory is a short herb with a lot of punch, VERY SPICY.

You can use Pink Savory not just in your Zaatar mix but also with any recipe that calls for savory.

Pink Savory loves dry heat weather.

Pink Savory typically grows to about one foot high and two feet wide.  From May to June it is covered with pink flowers, which are also spicy.

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