Teva Tip 4 - End of Summer Natural Teas
Summer is coming to an end and now is a good time to collect plants you dry and use for natural tea throughout the winter. Remember when you harvest
anything to give thanks to the Creator for providing you with what you need. And never take more than 1/3 rd of your needs from a single plant. Gather a little from one plant, go to another and so forth
until you have what you need. We are guardians of the world and our tasks begin with ourselves.
1. Sumac Berries
You've probably seen sumac trees growing along the highways if you've traveled in most of the eastern half of the United States. They are small trees with thin limbs and bright red berries that look like cone-shaped flowers. Many people mistakenly identify these plants as "poison sumac." Nope. I've enjoyed many a cups of iced and hot sumac berry tea - and I've sucked on the tart, dried berries - with absolutely no ill effects. Real poison sumac grows in wet regions, in bogs and wetlands and it gets a white berry that hangs over. Any of the red berry sumacs are fine to use.
To make tea, pick several large clusters of berries.
Squeeze to bruise and place 3-4 in a 2-quart pitcher. Chill for a day or two (to suite your own taste) and add sweetener as desired. You can also heat the tea and serve it hot.
There is no mistaking mint - simply use your nose. Use fresh or dry in a paper bag or a plastic salad bag with tiny holes. Experiment with how much to use. Generally, for one cup, use enough "tea" to fill the palm of your hand. Put into a cup of boiling hot water and let steep for 15 minutes. If you want a stronger taste, leave to steep longer.
Sassafras is a tree that is common throughout the Great Lakes, the Ohio River Valley and parts of the eastern United States. I do not know if it grows in other locations but it's taste is so good that I couldn't pass it up. Take a look at a tree book to see how to identify sassafras leaves. Note that the younger saplings have a light green bark that usually stands out once one becomes aware of it. Find a young sapling, something small enough that you can pull it out or dig up a good length of its root. The root is what you will use. Wash and lightly scrape off the outside covering. Chop the root into slivers or pieces and place in a pot of water. Again, it takes a palm full of material to make a single cup of tea. Let steep in the boiling hot water until the water turns a reddish color. Adjust the amount of time you leave the root to steep based on your taste.
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