I went through a period of time, when I would add fresh thyme to almost everything I cooked. Although that had to stop, thyme remains one of my favourite herbs and I will always look forward to breathing in its scent every time I happen to be buying a bunch.
In nutritional terms thyme hasn't got much going for it, but never-the-less it is a source of iron, magnesium and vitamin K. Where this herb excels is in the antiseptic properties and it is used widely to treat sore throats, respiratory conditions, dry coughts and so on. Thymol, the essential oil of thyme is used as active ingredient in Listerine, the mouthwash.
- There are over 100 varieties of thyme.
- Thyme was used throughout the ancient world: the Egyptians applied it in the mummification process, the Greeks burnt it as incense in sacred temples, and Romans treated the depression with it.
- Universally throughout the ancient world thyme was associated with strength and courage.
- The legend has is that thyme developed from the tears of Helen of Troy.
- During the middle ages a sprig of thyme was placed under the pillow to induce sleep and to prevent nightmares.
- According to another folk belief, fairies supposed to love thyme. In France and England people used to plant large beds of thyme to attract fairies and a 17th century recipe, which uses thyme as a key ingredient, is said to enable people to see them. In A Midsummer Nights Dream, Shakespeare referenced that folk association when writing that Titania, the Queen of the fairies, often went to "a bank whereon the wild thyme blows”.