Kudzu Tea

26 Sep

Kudzu is a fascinating thing- non-native, totally invasive, often destructive and just beautiful to behold.

photo by Shawn Poynter (click image to head to Shawn's page)

I heard recently that Kudzu is totally edible and has some fairly well-substantiated medicinal uses.  I tried kudzu pesto a few weeks back and while it isn’t necessarily something I’ll go out of my way to eat again, it certainly piqued my interest.  This weekend I picked some young and tender kudzu leaves in a spot I’m fairly certain isn’t sprayed with pesticides or weed killers (fingers crossed).  I searched for kudzu recipes and uses online and found this very simple one and modified it thusly:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup fresh kudzu leaves
  • 3 sprig fresh mint
  • honey
  • fresh lemon
  • Strain and serve with honey and lemon to taste.
  • Simmer 1 cup of finely chopped mint kudzu leaves in a quart of water for 30 minutes.
  • The result was interesting- totally local tea (minus the lemon, including the honey).  It was like a muskier green tea, but pretty tasty with lemon and honey.  It could be totally psychosomatic, but it made me feel a little sleepy and foggy-headed.  The medicinal uses for kudzu are well documented on everyone’s favorite font of internet information and include: anti-inflammation, cancer prevention, treatment for allergies, headaches, diarrhea,vertigo, hypertension, diabetes type II, hangovers and alcoholism.  That’s right- the root is “was used to prevent excessive consumption [of alcohol], while the flower was supposed to detoxify the liver and alleviate the symptoms afterwards.”  Supposedly something in kudzu curbs alcohol cravings and makes drinking alcohol less pleasant.  When I first read this, I felt my heart drop as my plans for a sake kudzu cocktail with ginger and lemon vanished before my eyes.  The article doesn’t say what effect the leaves have, however.  I’m going to do a little experimenting.  Wish me luck.

    thoroughly washed kudzu leaves

    the finished tea

    pretty tasty with lemon and honey

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