"Bayou Bill" Scifres
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Sassafras Tea Preparation
Copyright © 2002 by Bill Scifres

So you went out and dug some sassafras roots and now you are thinking about a steaming cup of the brisk red brew that old-time Hoosiers used to swill as a sort of tonic in late winter. 

In the wake of a sedentary winter, the oldtimers said sassafras tea thinned the blood. Maybe . . . maybe not. But there can be little doubt that a cup of steaming sassafras tea laced with honey will tickle the palate. 

The first step in making sassafras tea (assuming that you have the roots) is to remove any earth that may be cling to them. A good strong spraying with a garden hose outside or at the kitchen sink will handle this chore. When the roots are clean, they should be allowed to dry. 

The roots then should be sawed into four to six-inch lengths and split several times lengthwise with hatchet or ax. 

The chunks of roots (with bark) then are placed in a sauce pan and covered with cold tap water. Place the pan on medium heat and when the water starts steaming, turn the heat down. 

In half an hour or less the oil from the roots will create tea which can be strained into cups and sweetened with sugar or honey. 

More roots can be added occasionally and the "teapot" can be maintained by simply adding water occasionally. 

Roots not used can be tied in bundles and stored on the garage wall--or even in the kitchen--if you like the pleasant aroma of sassafras. Roots retain their oils for long periods of time, even when dry. 

It has been said that oils in sassafras roots contain carcinogens, but I know a lot of people who drink sassafras tea any time they can get it . . . and they are still about. 
 

 

 
All columns are copyrighted by Bill Scifres and may not be reproduced in any form without prior permission from the author.  For reproduction permission and media usage fees, contact: Bill Scifres, 6420 East 116th Street, Fishers, IN 46038, E-mail: billscifres@aol.com

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