The use of thyme dates back to over 10,000 years ago. It was frequently used to embalm the dead, as demonstrated by the Etruscans and Egyptians, and to purify the air. Its bactericidal properties must have been discovered through a process of experimentation. It was also burned in honor of the Gods.

As a Mediterranean herb, it is unsurprising that it makes an appearance in Greek mythology. The beautiful and coveted Helen, daughter of Zeus, decided to marry Menelaus, King of Sparta, to the chagrin of Paris, the Trojan prince who abducted her. This abduction sparked the Trojan War. During these conflicts between lovers and warriors, Helen cried many tears, which trickled down to the ground. Where her tears fell, thyme grew so much that it took over the entire territory of Troy.

This plant then became a symbol of courage. Roman soldiers used to take baths in thyme to give themselves courage. Later, the Crusaders and the Knights wore a sprig of thyme embroidered onto their scarf.

Thyme has always had an important medical role. It has been used in medical preparations and also in perfumes and cosmetics.

It was used across all civilizations to flavor food, but it was only in around the 16th century that it became a symbol of Provencal cuisine, often under the name farigoule

Thyme is sold in bunches of several branches, rarely very fresh, often dried or in the process of drying.

Dried leaves, usually already in the process of turning into powder, are also sold, sometimes mixed with other herbs (herbes de Provence).

Thyme essential oil is also available.

A liqueur made from farigoule (the Provençal name for thyme) is produced in Provence. 

Freshly picked thyme is always better and more flavorful than dried thyme, especially when in bloom.

Commercially made herbes de Provence should be avoided as it often smells slightly of old hay. 

Freshly picked thyme is always better and more flavorful than dried thyme, especially when in bloom.

Commercially made herbes de Provence should be avoided as it often smells slightly of old hay. 

Fresh thyme should be kept in a cool place, wrapped in a damp paper towel, to keep it fresh for as long as possible.

If it is not used immediately, the flowers break off and dry.

Semi-dried or dried thyme should be stored in a plastic box as its leaves tend to scatter when it dries.

The active ingredient in thyme, thymol, has antibacterial properties, which is why a sprig of thyme always used to be added to marinades.

An infusion of thyme aids digestion and can also be used as a mouthwash to combat dental infections or inhaled to help with bronchial congestion. Many medicinal products and toothpastes also contain thymol.

Thyme essential oil is still used in herbal medicine, and to make cosmetics and certain types of candy. 

Dozens of varieties of thyme exist, including:

. Common thyme: the most common.

. Silver thyme: its leaves are streaked with white.

. Lemon thyme: as the name suggests, it smells of lemon. Silver lemon thyme has leaves streaked with white, while the leaves of golden lemon thyme are streaked with yellow.

. Caraway thyme: it has a stronger aroma with undertones of cumin and lemongrass.

. Orange thyme: it has a fruity aroma reminiscent of orange.

. Wild thyme or creeping thyme: it is a little less spicy than common thyme.

. Purple carpet creeping thyme: it is similar to wild thyme.

. Winter thyme or German thyme: it has wider leaves and a slightly bitter flavor.