This picture is Dave's Great-Grandpa John and Great-Grandma Marie Kellner fishing in Minnesota in June 1969. Dave said a family tradition (besides fishing) was great-grandmother Marie Kellner boiling Sassafras roots to make tea. Great-Grandma Marie was also remembered for other drinks, her sweet tea that would leave a collection of sugar in the bottom of the pitcher and a grape juice Dave fondly remembers being served to him at breakfast.
Sassafras Trees are smaller from other tress. These trees were actually on our property before we removed them this weekend. You could tell the sassafras trees apart from the others as soon as the roots are exposed. The smell seemed very familiar to me, maybe from a candy I had growing up? It is the main ingredient in traditional root beer and sassafras root tea. The roots have to be dug early spring before the sap is brought back up the trunk of the tree.
After the trees were removed, we cut the roots. Some of the roots were white, others were red. I picked the smaller roots, not the larger ones.
We took the roots home and peeled some of the bark back and boiled water.
The roots were boiled for five minutes, water was drained, and roots boiled for another 6 minutes. The tea was strained through a cheesecloth. Then it was time for the taste-test. I waited for the tea to cool down a little bit, but I didn't drink it cold. It had a the sassafras taste to it, and Dave tried it too. I thought it tasted good, and didn't have any after taste. If I was a betting person, I would imagine Great-Grandma Marie added some sugar to this as well.
It is amazing what you can actually get from nature, if you just take a look around and use your natural resources.