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.