There is much to like about Naxos (the largest of the Cyclades island group in the Aegean), pristine beaches, medieval towns and ancient terraced olive groves, adding greenery and welcome shade to the mountain-scape beyond.
A thirty minute drive east and you'll reach the village of Filoti. Built up and around Mount Zas, this sprawling expanse of pretty white houses strikes a rustic contrast to the elegant coastal towns. The mountain villagers of Naxos, known for their goats and cheese, are a far cry from town inhabitants. Through rustic isolation, the Filotians are almost closed off from the face of encroaching tourism and continue a more traditional, authentic lifestyle, the result being exceptional quality produce.
Full-leafed olive branches have come to symbolise peace and prosperity in Mediterranean and western cultures, even appearing on the seal of the United Nations and on British and American coins. However, olive leaves have been used by traditional Mediterranean medical practitioners for thousands of years. Distinctively pungently flavoured, with grassy undertones, olive leaves have impressively high levels of olive phenolics, known to benefit the health.
Currently there are over 400,000 olive trees in Naxos, of which 200,000 are in the basin of Tragaia, and many are centuries old.
Our pristine olive leaves are single origin and certified organic. The Spanos family have been farming and tending to their beautiful Honroelia olive groves on the Island of Naxos for over 150 years – with some of their preexisting Hondroelia olive trees being 400-600 years old!
Cycladi, the Spanos family farm, now run by Stefanos Spanos, is around 50 acres, and features apple, pear and fig orchards and vines yielding wine-making grapes.
The use of chemicals is shunned in favour of traditional farming methods. Many families in the area still gather their olive leaves together. During the harvest, the terraces resound with activity as the precious leaves are collected and distributed amongst friends and family throughout the coming year. In short, as in days of yore, quality is chosen above quantity, still dependent upon rainfall and natural manpower, as opposed to chemicals.
Olive leaves are usually picked mid-morning when any dew has dried, and air dried naturally upside down under the shade of the olive trees, to maintain the essential oils present. Branches growing from the base of the trees are selected as the leaves are greener, and contain higher levels of polyphenols (therefore antioxidants), than older leaves growing from main branches.
Each sip of our olive leaf tea bestows on the drinker not only centuries of history and tradition, but access to a very traditional Mediterranean way of life, closed off from the modern world!
Our naturally grown hibiscus flowers are handpicked from around the Cycladic island of Paros during August each year. Compared to standard hibiscus, our flowers are smoother and more balanced (with a little less astringency), due to the varietal and purer growing conditions.
Paros has much to love just as with Naxos, both islands being the heart and soul of the Cylcadic islands with beautiful wide sandy and pristine beaches, quiet pebble coves, medieval towns, rich ancient archaeological findings, and even the oldest church in constant use in Greece, Panagia Ekatontapyliani, which was the largest early Byzantine church in Greece.
Whilst Paros is second in size to Naxos, and also less mountainous, the terrain relief gently slopes towards the sea which allows for it to be greener, more lush and with plenty of water, which is ideal for shrubs such as Hibiscus.
Paros gained significant wealth from its world famous pristine marble. That rich volcanic and geographical history means that the South and East of Paros is especially fertile, supporting not only a wide range of arable and livestock farming, but also vibrant wine and cheese making. As with all the places we source from, the inhabitants of Paros, Parians, have for over thousands of years held a strong love and respect for herbs and flowers, which are generally naturally grown or wild. The area has been inhabited for at about six thousand years (4300 to 3900BC) encompassing the Neolithic period, which transitioned to the Cycladic, Minoan, and Mycenaean civilisations before Ancient Greece and all that followed to today.
Cycladi Farm production is select, small and certified organic. The Spanos family have been farming and tending to their olive groves for over 150 years, with the use of chemicals being shunned in favour of traditional farming methods.