By April Punsalan
Improve your overall health and vitality with mulberry (Morus alba) leaf tea. In America, most people know mulberry trees for their edible fruit, but few know about mulberry leaf tea.
Mulberry leaves contain a rich complex of vitamins (B1, B2, B6, C, D, E, folic acid), minerals (calcium, zinc), amino acids, phytochemicals, and flavonoids that keep the body resilient.
The high mineral and vitamin content within the leaves led to the herb’s reputation as the anti-aging and anti-greying herb. In Korea and Japan, diabetic patients consume mulberry leaf tea to help lower blood sugar levels. Also, the leaf tea is said to reduce sugar and food cravings.
Typically, the tea is consumed 20 to 30 minutes before a meal. Also, mulberry leaf tea is used to lower high blood pressure and to help people recover from a hangover. The leaf tea is also known as a remedy for colds, the flu, and the fever. In China, leaf tea is considered a liver cleanser consumed to relieve headaches. Humans aren’t the only ones benefiting from this herb. The high crude protein in mulberry leaves make an excellent food for livestock and studies have shown that mulberry leaf supplementation increases milk production. Silkworms feed exclusively on mulberry leaves to make their high energy product -silk. Given what I know about this herb, I wasn’t surprised when Milo, my black lab, chewed all the mulberry leaves off my small tree. Mulberry leaf tea has a nice herbal taste and a hint of sweetness. It blends well with other herbs such as rose petals and chamomile flowers. It brews a yellowish-brown color. Because mulberry trees occur across the world and are considered a “weedy” species in many areas (not native to the U.S.), you likely have one near you. Look for a small tree with alternately arranged leaves with a heart-shaped leaf base.
A distinguishing characteristic of mulberry trees is the variable leaf shape, ranging from lobed to unlobed leaves. I collect mulberry leaves throughout the year until they start to turn a lighter green to yellow color near the middle of October. Mulberry leaves are very easy to dry. Lie the leaves flat on old screens or in baskets for several days. Once dry, the leaves will easily crumble in your hands. I recommend harvesting enough to fill up a half gallon jar. To brew, add one tablespoon of mulberry leaves per cup of water. Pour hot (just done boiling) over the leaves, cover, and steep for 20 minutes. Strain the leaves from the brew once it turns a nice yellowish-brown color.
Get creative and add other herbs such as mint, lemon balm, or lavender. Try to forage some mulberry leaves before they turn yellow this fall. If you miss your window, don’t worry, make sure to mark the trees and return in the spring to collect the fruit and the leaves throughout the summer.