What is Sassafras?
Native to Asia and eastern North America, the Sassafras plant is a useful tree with an aromatic citrus scent. All the parts are used, including the roots, twigs, leaves, bark, flowers and fruit, for culinary and medicinal purposes.
The original version of root beer was made from the sassafras plant as well as sassafras tea.
What is Sassafras Good For?
There are so many things sassafras has been used for throughout history and not just for culinary or medicinal purposes. The wood from the tree has been used to build furniture and ships in Europe, China and the U.S. Even the twigs were used as toothbrushes.
Sassafras root tea is a popular beverage made from this plant and the ground leaves are used in Creole cuisine, as well as a thickening and flavoring agent in gumbo. Perfumes and soaps were once made with sassafras for its aromatic qualities.
Commercially produced root beer no longer uses sassafras oil for flavoring due to the regulated use of products that contain safrole – which is believed to be carcinogenic in large amounts.
Sassafras Tea Benefits
Several Native American tribes would use the leaves of sassafras for treating wounds and other parts of the plant for acne, high fevers and urinary conditions. Different species of sassafras are used in Chinese medicine for rheumatism and other medical conditions.
Believed to have antiseptic and analgesic properties, the roots, bark and oil have been used to treat many skin conditions, scurvy, kidney problems and toothaches to name a few. Its pleasing taste and aroma have been useful in making other medicines taste better. Sassafras tea benefits include:
- Boosting Immunity – with antimicrobial and antiseptic actions
- Alleviating Inflammation – helping with gout, rheumatism and arthritis
- Treating Skin Conditions – from boils and rashes to scrapes and acne
- Soothing Menstrual Pain – also bloating, cramps and heavy bleeding
- Increasing Energy Levels – as a stimulant to overcome fatigue
- Detoxifying the Body – the diuretic properties help with eliminating toxins
How to Make Sassafras Tea
Used as an early Spring tonic, sassafras root tea is also a great blood purifier. You can buy the roots cut and sifted or in tea bags if it’s your first time and want to keep it simple. It’s the bark of the root that is used for sassafras tea, as the flavor is mostly contained there.
- If using the root bark – place one to two teaspoons in a saucepan and cover with a cup or two of water, depending on how strong you like it. Bring it to a boil and then simmer for approx ten minutes. The color of the tea will be a reddish brown and the smell will be delicious. Strain and enjoy with or without honey or sweeteners.
- If using a tea bag – like most herbal teas, you can bring the water to just boiling then pour over the teabag and leave to steep for at least 5 minutes. After removing the tea bag, take a sip to gauge the level of bitterness before sweetening.
Learning how to make sassafras tea is rather simple but the benefits and unique flavor will dictate how you decide to prepare it in the future.
Whether mixing it with other herbs or brewing a large jug for iced tea, you’ll enjoy the citrus zing and energy boost that comes from drinking this amazing herbal tea.