Creative Wonders

Man Builds Teahouse From Natural and Reclaimed Materials to Share His ‘Aromatic Plant Cocktails’

BY Louise Chambers TIMEMay 4, 2022 PRINT

A Greek botanist has found a unique way to share his passion for medicinal plants by building a teahouse from natural materials, all from scratch, in the midst of nature. There, he invites visitors to taste tea from the aromatic garden plants as well as get natural therapies.

Zalidas Ioannis, 51, built the House of Tea in his hometown, the village of Krinida in Serres, northern Greece.

Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of Zalidas Ioannis)

“In the village, I created a botanical garden, a collection of Greek aromatic medicinal plants,” Ioannis told The Epoch Times.

Sharing how he got inspired to make this teahouse almost three years ago, Ioannis said: “One day, on a walk in the garden with my colleague, Zenovia Antoniadou, a therapeutic acupuncturist, the idea was born to make a ‘tea house’ in the garden so that visitors could taste tea from the garden plants, as well as a place that offers natural therapies.

“The truth is that it exceeded expectations and became, in a word, a fairytale,” he marveled.

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Ioannis’s idea for this project was to use only natural and reclaimed materials from the surrounding area, such as stone from abandoned houses and tree trunks, so that the teahouse would exist in harmony with nature and be cheaper to build.

Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of Zalidas Ioannis)

With no prior experience in construction, Ioannis set to work observing other structures and taking photos. He scavenged the first six wooden columns for his teahouse from a demolished building and started learning how to work with wood through sanding and painting.

“Before I put the columns on the ground, I realized that I first had to make a solid base,” he recalled, “so I dug with my hands and shaped the original space, carried stones and the rest of the materials, and again, with my hands, I made the concrete base.

“I would say that it took me more time to make the materials than to install them. The challenges were huge; at first, I had no knowledge … I did not have the tools, and I was working with primitive means such as a hand saw, axe, and scalpel. There was no electricity in the herb garden, so no power tools could be used, and I had no money to pay workers and craftsmen.”

Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of Zalidas Ioannis)

Working alone, Ioannis had to invent solutions every step of the way, from how to place a huge trunk to how to calculate the forces exerted on his chosen materials. But challenges, he said, were “all overcome with patience, perseverance, and will!”

The botanist erected his teahouse in an area of outstanding natural beauty near mountains, hot springs, caves, coastlines, scattered archaeological sites from the Paleolithic era, and the beautiful gorge of Aggitis. To maximize visitors’ connection to the great outdoors, and for them to enjoy a beautiful view, he installed windows on all sides.

“I started picking up old wooden windows that I even found in the trash; I started to find ways to renovate them and make them the way I wanted,” said Ioannis. “I kept coming up with various ideas.”

Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of Zalidas Ioannis)
Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of Zalidas Ioannis)

Ioannis carried stones to build a low stone wall “with excellent results.” He scavenged metal from old carts and felled logs from walnut, olive, acacia, and karagatsi trees that were ideal for his construction, teaching himself to remove the bark.

“Each time I placed a piece of wood, it brought me a new idea, such as an interior balcony, an internal staircase, a small balcony to the north … and that’s exactly what I did because there was no original plan,” he explained. “I was drawing at every step.”

With the addition of roof tiles taken from demolished houses, Ioannis’s House of Tea was complete. On Jan. 5, 2022, he shared photos of the finished construction on Facebook.

Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of Zalidas Ioannis)
Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of Zalidas Ioannis)

On the ground floor, the botanist hosts tea tastings for up to 10 guests at a time, showcasing aromatic plants from his herb garden. On the first floor, Antoniadou provides her acupuncture treatments.

“We offer dozens of drinks from mixtures of herbs, as well as information on how to make tea without destroying the healing properties of plants, and how to get all their beneficial ingredients,” said Ioannis, who hosts visitors from local schools, nature clubs, and tea lovers.

“There is a great interest from people who come to the ‘tea house,’ they like it very much and those who come do not want to leave,” Ioannis said.

Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of Zalidas Ioannis)

House of Tea is part of Ioannis’s larger passion project: to connect human beings with their own nature through plants. He has a second house inside the herb garden for bathing with aromatic medicinal plants to that end, a traditional method popularized by the classical Greek physician Hippocrates.

Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of Zalidas Ioannis)
Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of Zalidas Ioannis)

“We give the body the opportunity to remember the flavors, the aromas, the sounds, and the forms that nourish the body and the spirit,” said Ioannis.

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Louise Chambers is a writer, born and raised in London, England. She covers inspiring news and human interest stories.
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