As a young kid I practically grew up in the woods. If I wasn’t doing school or working on chores I was out in the woods building forts and just messing around. I am not sure how or who first showed me a sassafras tree but I have many fond memories of getting excited finding one in the woods. What comes to mind when I hear sassafras? Tea! It is probably better known for being one of the original ingredients in Root Beer because the beverage comes from the root, hence the name.
One good and tasty use for sassafras is tea. The oils in the leaves, stem, twigs, and roots are very aromatic donning a nicely balanced tea. Follow the instructions outlined here to start enjoying your own natural tasty tea!
First off you will need to find a sassafras tree. Trees can grow as tall as 155 feet but you will want to look for a younger shorter tree for the best taste. The tree is unique because it has 3 shapes of leaves; trilobed (has three lobes), bilobed (this has the shape of a mitten), and unlobed (this is just an oval leaf with no separate lobes). The leaves are green in the summer and turn bright yellow in the fall making them easier to find later in the year.
Once you have your tree you can either harvest all the roots on that tree or simply dig down and cut off a few from the base and back fill your hole so that the tree will continue to grow. A tuber the size of your pinky finger will make a 12 once cup of tea.
Wash the roots to get any dirt off and then using a sharp knife scrape the outer layer of skin off. Hold the knife horizontal to the root so that it scrapes and doesn’t cut large slices out of the flesh (similar to peeling ginger). Rinse again and then snap into 3-4 inch lengths. Depending on how much tea you are making will determine how many roots you will be putting into your water. Any extra roots can be dried out and stored in a jar to be used later.
Bring your water to a light boil and add your sassafras roots. Boil for at least 10 minutes or longer if you would like your tea stronger. The water will turn a rich red color which just adds to the beauty of sassafras tea!
After boiling for at least 10 minutes simply take out the tubers and pour yourself your first cup of sassafras tea! If you rinsed the roots off prior to placing them in the boiling water then you should not have to strain the water. If desired you can also add sugar to the tea to enhance the flavor. Now, grab a book or entertain some friends while drinking your home made tea.