With my ancestry roots deeply embedded in the rural red clay of Georgia, I’m quite sure some of my forefathers were not above whipping up a batch or two or moonshine if the occasion called for it.
I just never thought I’d be whipping up anything of the kind.
Actually, lest you worry about the bolts of my sound judgement unscrewing their final revolution – my brew is a harmless, nonalcoholic cousin of the bodacious, chased-by-revenooers, illegal potion in the Bonnie & Clyde era with which we’re all familiar.
It’s harmless enough – homemade root beer, for Pete’s sake.
Did I say harmless? Shoot, it’s actually good for you – organic, all natural ingredients, and it’s carb-free. (Carbonation, not carbohydrates.) Yep, Euell Gibbons would’ve given his full endorsement as he took a big swig of this stuff then bit the bark off a pine tree.
Okay, here’s the scoop (or maybe I should say swill). My weird cousin Howard (everybody has one, right? Right? Right???) sent me this huge root in the mail. I’m sure you’ve gotten your share of roots in the mail too, right? Right? Right??? But this unidentified root had no explanation, no instructions, no … nothing. I wasn’t even sure it was a root. It took me a full day to figure out it wasn’t a random stick.
This is, in fact, not out of the ordinary for my cousin Howard. He once sent me an authentic voodoo doll complete with stabbing pins.
So about a week after the nondescript root arrived, I received an email from Howard containing a recipe for making your own sassafras tea, also known as homemade bubble-less root beer. Howard had apparently stumbled across a lovely sassafras root in the wilds near his mountain abode and thought that I would like to teach my young grandpals (who live next door) the ways of the woods.
The grands (5-year-old twins and a 9-year-old) are homeschooled and are required to share an oral presentation with their homeschool group every week, so it seemed like a golden opportunity for them to learn something interesting and simultaneously check off next week’s presentation preparation.
It occurred to me that my BFFs (you’uns) might not be in the habit of making your own sassafras tea, and might also find it enlightening to see how they did it in the old days (and perhaps how some – like Howard – still do). So I’m posting here some of the pics of our sassafras tea adventure that I chronicled.
Be sure to note that the directions (which sound a lot like Howard himself wrote them) call for you to strain the boiled root juice (tea) through a pair of … wait for it … underpants – preferably clean – before serving.
Although this is a fine idea, and no doubt works like a charm, I chose to use a clean dishcloth for our batch. Just so you know.
(Bree was thoroughly disgusted by this notion but Breydon happily volunteered a fave pair of his own Superman-imprinted underpants.)
I must admit – skeptic though I am – that our homemade brew didn’t turn out half bad. It actually looked like real tea. And it didn’t taste horrible at all – if you like the strong taste of sassafras. The only caveat is that the sassafras aroma (odor?) gets stuck in your nose and for the rest of the week,
everywhere you go, you smell sassafras.
Funny thing, I can smell it right now just reading the word. I guess sassafras is one of those things that can color your world and change your perspective.
Kinda like grace. When you receive a big dollop of grace from Papa God, it colors your world too and you keep feeling the sheer joy from it for days to come.
An afterglow even better than moonshine.
P.S. Dearest BFFs (Blessed Friends Forever), I’ll soon be offering another giveaway of my newest “Baby Blessing” – Too Blessed to be Stressed: 3-Minute Daily Devotions for Morning & Evening in my next e-newsletter so be sure you’ve subscribed to it (you can find it right here at DeboraCoty.com).
Cheryl Johnston says
Such fun and a great homeschool lesson, too. Howard sounds like a gem!
Cheryl, Howard is an enigma – crazy but super intelligent, weird but loving in his own unique way, and a peacemaker among the bickering. I wouldn’t trade him for the world. Do you have a cousin like that?
Frances Guy (Franklin, NC) says
Hi Debbie! I have a sassafras story! When I was growing up (probably between 6 and 10 years old) every Sunday after church and “eating out,” my family would go for long rides in the countryside. Also during those years, I LOVED sassafras tea and as we rode, I could look out in the woods and pick out sassafras bushes. On one of those Sundays, I spotted a huge stand of sassafras bushes and I begged Daddy to stop. He was still in his “church clothes” which included black and white spectator shoes. Of course, Daddy was in the process of stopping when Mama spoke up and said, “Frances, look how muddy it is out there! Are you going to clean Daddy’s shoes?” I assured both of them that I would. Daddy got out of the car and went into the muddy woods, got the sassafras roots and came back to the car with mud almost to his ankles. Long story short, of course I didn’t have to clean Daddy’s shoes because I was spoiled rotten and Daddy would do almost anything for his little girl.
Ohhhhh, I love this story, Frances! You’re going to have to show me what a sassafras bush looks like!
Diane Stanko says
We used to make sassafras tea every once in a while at Grandpa and Grandma’s, and reading about your experience making it with the grands, I thought I could smell it again all these years later!
WHAT in the world IS it about that smell??? I can still smell it if I even say the world out loud. Did you like the taste, Diane?
Diane Stanlo says
I did! But since you mentioned carbonation, I wonder if that would have made it even better – I am so excited to that fizz.