Sassafras Tea

With spring here, it’s time to start moving again — and detoxifying.

Traditionally, Sassafras tea was drank for the first few weeks of spring to jump start our bodies. The bark of the beautiful red roots were shaved off and prepared as an infusion. As we get back into tune with the rhythms of nature, what better way to do it than to enjoy a beverage that reminds us of our childhood?

Sassafras is the main ingredient from which root beer was traditionally made. Its taste is warming, sweet, and a bit demulcent. Sassafras is particularly good at:

  • Clearing inflammation
  • Improving circulation of the cardiovascular and lymphatic system
  • Opening the pores of the skin thus promoting a more efficient elimination pathway for detox.
  • Improving digestion and assimilation
  • Healing bruises when applied externally through poultices

Whether to begin sloughing away at what we’ve held onto during winter, or to make a much healthier version of soda to enjoy, I recommend trying out this root beer recipe.

You can prepare it into a tea, syrup, or serve it as a soda. The base recipe created by Dr. Sheila Kingsbury is as follows:

3 parts Sassafras albidum

2 parts Pimpinella anisum

1 part Smilax spp.

Weigh out enough herb for 2 ounces total and simmer with one quart of water until reduced by half. Strain out the herbs, discard, and add a 1:1 ratio of sweetener (honey, sugar, etc.). If you prefer a sugar-free sweetener, a teaspoon of stevia (liquid or powder) may be added per cup of liquid. This syrup may be diluted with soda water and drank daily.

Get creative! My favorite root beer recipes have included variations of additional herbs such as wild cherry bark, ginger, birch bark, vanilla pods, licorice root, burdock root, Hawthorn berries, and even milk thistle seed.

Note: You can purchase the herbs at any local herb shops, including Dandelion Botanicals (, 5424 Ballard Ave NE #103, Seattle, ph 206-545-8892) or Herban Wellness (, 103 Lake Street South, Kirkland, ph 206-330-2171).

By Taylor Jeffers