Za’atar or ‘Lebanese thyme’ (‘za’atar’ means ‘thyme’ in Arabic) originates from the Mediterranean Basin and belongs to the Lamiaceae family.
It’s important to differentiate it from ‘Lebanese za’atar’, a mix which of course contains Lebanese thyme, but also sumac and sesame. Lebanese thyme has long been used for its various properties and benefits. Nowadays, it is popular and widely used all over the world.
The plant has many slender, branched stems containing small, thin, green leaves with a strong scent.
Za’atar grows in light, chalky, clay and wet soils at altitudes of up to 2000m and can reach a height of up to 40cm. To grow, Lebanese thyme needs exposure to sunlight. However, you have to be very careful because za’atar does not withstand dryness.
It blooms from June to October and is harvested just before it blooms. Small, usually white flowers appear when the plant is in bloom.
Like thyme, za’atar is very popular in Mediterranean cuisine.
It can be used fresh as well as dried. It enhances the flavour of salads, tomatoes, vinaigrettes, pasta, ratatouille and lamb-based dishes.