Sumac is a berry that has been used for thousands of years and can still be found growing wild in some regions of the US. Read more here on how to find this berry and make it into sumac tea.
Sumac is an ancient red berry commonly used in the Middle East when dried as a spice. It originated in the high altitude regions of the Mediterranean and the term is derived from the Aramaic word summaq, which means ‘dark red.’ It is used to add tanginess and a lemony flavour to many dishes.
The sumac shrub has also historically been used by some Native American tribes in what is now the United States. It can still even be found growing wild in the Great Lake region of the US. The sumac can be identified in the fall season when it grows compound leaves and clusters of furry red berries. Be careful not to confuse the edible red sumac berries with the poisonous white sumac cousin, which grows in wetlands.
Keep reading to learn about the health benefits of sumac and for our sumac tea recipe – a simple and healthy concoction.
Health Benefits of Sumac
Sumac berries have been found to be:
- Rich in antioxidants, compounds that protect your cells from damage.
- Beneficial for heart heath because of the presence of oelic acid and linoleic acid.
- Capable of reducing blood sugar.
Warning: The sumac berry is in the same family as cashews and mangos, so those with potential for allergy to this family may want to avoid consuming sumac.
Simple Sumac Tea Recipe
- 1/2 lb. sumac berries (about 2 bundles) or 6 tbsp. dried sumac berries
- 2 quarts water
- Sweetener like coconut sugar or agave to taste (optional)
- A pitcher or other container for the tea to steep over night
- Coffee filter or cheese cloth.
Step 1 – Prepare Berries
If using fresh sumac berries, rinse the berries. Then gently crush them to help release their flavour more strongly.
Step 2 – Infuse
Soak the berry clusters or dried berries in a pitcher of cold water over night (at least 12 hours) or longer to infuse the flavor.
Step 3 – Strain the Sumac Tea
Strain the tea through a coffee filter or cheese cloth to remove the berries and any other remnants from the tea.
Step 4 – Sweeten to Taste
Add preferred sweeteners if desired, ice if you want a cold refreshing tea, or heat the sumac tea – making sure not to fully boil it – if you prefer a hot tea.
The tea can also be stored in the refrigerator to be enjoyed later and will keep for up to 3 days.
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