Just about over a year ago, I posted a recipe for pan seared day-lilies (How to Cook Day-lilies). In it I talked about how it was my Grandma that first introduced me to the fine art of ‘foraging’, mostly in the woods in my backyard. Some of you asked for a recipe for the Sassafras tea I mentioned, but at the time I wasn’t able to find any Sassafras tree’s to make it. But I recently found one! :) (some of the photos below were taken with my phone, so I apologize for the poor quality)
(The Sassafras tree has very unique leaves, which makes it easy to identify)
I hated tea as a child. We used to have tea parties, my close friends and I, but I never drank the tea (I went for the buttery pastries and cucumber sandwiches though, of course!). But this – this was different. Grandma and I would go for walks out in the woods and we’d look for Sassafras seedlings. It was one of my first tree identification activities – I never thought I’d end up as a horticulturalist! Maybe this subliminally had something to do with it :). But anyway, when we got back to the house, we’d cleaned them up and then Grandma would boil the roots until the kitchen smelled of Sassafras. There was such a pride in this as a child; drinking up something that I’d help to gather right out of the woods. I think that’s why I liked it.
(Sassafras seedlings just chillin’ in the yard)
Anyway, on top of being a full time graduate student, I have a side job where I garden that allows me to get off campus, breathe beautiful fresh air, and get dirt under my fingernails again. It wasn’t until recently that I realized there was a Sassafras tree on the property. Needless to say, I’ve been ‘weeding’ all the little volunteer seedlings in the yard. And for good reason too. This tea is scrumptious!
And before you try it, you might be wondering what it tastes like. I suppose the above description left that part out! If you’ve ever smelled the roots of a Sassafras tree, you won’t need an explanation as it’s a very unique smell and taste. But I liken it to a mix of cinnamon and anise or licorice. A perfect tea flavor!
* Forage at your own risk!
Sassafras tree seedling roots
NuNaturals alcohol free liquid stevia
*Equipment needed: Fine mesh strainer
Start by finding a Sassafras tree. Easier said that done, especially if you’re not a plantsman! But I’ve added a few photo’s here to help you identify the tree when you see it. They grow natively in a large part of the U.S., so if you’re from the east coast or mid-west, expect to see these trees growing in forest and woodlands. Here is a map provided by the USDA that shows which area’s Sassafras tree’s grow natively.
Be very careful when pulling out the seedlings. The roots are tender and tend to break off if you pull too hard. One solution for this is to wet the soil around the seedlings in order to pull them out better. Or, if you’ve found a tree in the woods it’s likely to be easier, as the soil in forested area’s tend to have more organic matter and isn’t so tightly packed around roots.
Once you’ve successfully pulled out the roots, take them back to the kitchen for some deep cleaning. Cut the roots off at the crown of the seedling (where the roots meet the green stem) and discard the green parts. Pick off any of the fiberous roots (shown below), as they tend to hold dirt more and they also have very little of the flavor when compared to the larger roots. Use water with high pressure (such as a ‘shower’ style spray with a sink hose extender) to wash off any dirt.
And just to be sure, as only a small amount of dirt can really make the tea taste bad (obviously :)), soak the roots in a bowl of lukewarm water for about ten minutes. Then rinse again.
(you don’t want any of these roots – only the larger ones)
In a medium saucepan, add about 1 cup of water for each large root. For the collection of small roots I had, I chose to go with 3 cups of water. Some of it will boil away anyway, of course.
Once the pot boils, let the roots brew on medium high for 7 to 10 minutes.
While the tea brews, set up your mesh strainer in a medium bowl. Pour the liquid through the strainer and remove all plant parts from it. Mix in 6 to 7 drops of NuNaturals alcohol free liquid stevia. Pour the tea from the bowl into mugs and enjoy!
I know what you’re thinking… this sounds like a lot of work. And I would agree with you. At least if one were to compare this to going to the store and buying a box of tea. But trust me when I say there isn’t anything quiet like a pot of fresh brewed Sassafras tea :)
This recipe is linked to Sugar free Sunday, Seasonal Sunday, My Meatless Monday, Midnight Madness Meatless Monday, Just another Meatless Monday, Mouthwatering Monday, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday, Delicious Dishes, Made from Scratch Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday Parade of Food, Tuesdays at the Table, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday.