Harvesting Edible Sassafras Root For Making Tea

Hey guys this is Josh here with Trillium: Wild Edibles. I wanted to bring you guys a video on how to harvest Sassafras root. I got a pretty easy way I like to harvest my Sassafras root. And I like to usually do it, with just a knife. Here this little green sapling that you see on front of us is a small Sassafras tree or bush. Sassafras can get to varying heights in the Eastern Woodlands. Usually you’ll find them any where from four to twelve feet tall. But everyonce in a while and you’ll get lucky and find one that’s thirty feet tall or more. Okay and once you’ve gotten to your Sassafras tree, and you’ve found one you want to harvest. The thing we want to harvest is the root. Now what you want to do is you want to go ahead and clear away the soil, clear away the debris. Then clear away any loose dirt that you can with your hands. If you’re going to be harvesting something bigger, you’re probably going to need a shovel or a trowel. And here you can see we’ve started to expose the root. So at this point you just want to take your knife, and be very careful. And just loosen up the soil. You’ll see that once we loosen up the soil a good portion of it is now loose. Now we just want to grab and then pull. And once we’ve done that this is what we have. The big section of the root. Okay and then once you’ve got your Sassafras roots and your at home, go ahead and get them to your sink. Of course just wash them up really good. And what I like to do after I get a prelimnary washing is I like to go ahead and just take a brush. A brush kind of like this will do just fine, you can use a toothbrush, or anything of that nature. This just helps to remove any loose bark, or any loose dirt, or dirt that’s stuck on there that we couldn’t get off very well. We just want to go ahead and wash these up and then scrub them up really good with a brush. Then once you’ve washed them up, just go ahead and then pat them dry with a paper towel, their going to get wet again anyways, if you wanto to go ahead and skip this step you can. I just like to do it to see how much dirt I actually get off of them and see how dirty they still are. Okay now you may be able to see that there is still a little bit of dirt up in here, so I’m just going to take this back to the sink and I’m just going to wash it off. Okay we’ve got them clean and rinsed off. Go ahead and get a knife, put it on the cutting board. Then bang through them, they are going to fly. They are really tough to cut. Alright and once you’ve cut your Sassafras roots up go ahead and get yourself about two cups of water in a saucepan. Put it on the stove and get it to boiling. Once we get it to boiling I’ll come back to you. Alright now you can see our waters boiling now so all we’re going to do is just throw our Sassafras roots right in the water and we’re just going to boil this until it s a reddish brown in color. Okay you can see the color of our water is starting to change. Now it’s getting this kind of pinkish hue to it, it’s real light in color. The smell of Sassafras is going to be getting stronger and stronger at this point. Now really at this point it’s just kind of a matter of getting it to the point you actually like it. Everybody has a different personal preference. I’m actually going ot be turning my burner down it’s starting to get really hot here. Holy cowabunga! Everybody has different personal preferences as far as the strength of their tea is concerned. And the darker this water becomes the stronger it’s going to be. So that kind of gives you an idea of about how dark you want it, I hope. Okay here you can see our water’s changed from a dark reddish brown, this is the point Ilike it. Really good strong smell of Sassafras, so what we want to do now we just want to pick those roots out. Alright and at this point, your Sassafras tea is done. You can actually strain some of these smaller particles out if you want, with like a coffee filter or something. I don’t usually worry about it, so you can just go ahead and pur yourself a cup. And once it’s done you can either put it in the fridge and sweeten it, and cool it down, drink it cold. Or you could drink it warm, it doesn’t really matter. I like mine warm and I like mine cold. It’s still a little hot, but yeah that’s good. So I thank you guys for watching this video, and I hope you enjoyed it.


  1. as a kid growing up, you could find sassafras roots in the produce dept of grocery stores. when we made some tea, we would save the roots, put them in a shallow dish to dry out  and use them again for tea. we would continue doing that till there was no more flavor or color to come out of the roots

  2. ditto what Ok Prepper said, plus; Once it starts boiling turn it down and slow boil to keep it from being so bitter. It don't matter to me, I make mine about a reddish black color.

  3. I have never seen a Sassafras tree before. I have recently bought the Peterson Field Guide for Eastern Trees and I think it's in there. I am going to search for one this year while I'm identifying trees! I think this is where "root beer" originated from.

  4. When you pulled it out, you lost half the roots! Many times, the root grows down a few inches, then makes an almost perfect 90° turn. Your root broke right at that turn.

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