27 September 2010

Persimmon Leaf Lattea

The-Man-of-the-Place has been spoiling me in the mornings recently.
He makes this soymilk-splashed-tea that we both love
with a bit of stevia for sweetening...
...sooo yum especially now that the mornings have a chill to them.

A neighborhood persimmon tree.
I learned about foraging this tea several years ago
while reading Stalking the Wild Asparagus by Euell Gibbon:
A recent discovery points to a use of the persimmon which is not concerned with the fruit. It has been reported in the scientific journals that "persimmon leaves have been found to give exceptionally high values in content of vitamin C." Persimmon Tea could help fortify your family with this protective vitamin, substituting at least in part for the expensive citrus fruits. This tea proves to have a very pleasant flavor, which is surprising in something so healthful. Tea made from the green leaves is very acceptable but that from the dried leaves is even better, having a flavor slightly reminiscent of sassafras.

(We do not find the tea made from the persimmon trees in our area to taste at all like sassafras. This, too, might vary from one locale to another.)

Persimmon tree leaves with green fruit
which ripens in late autumn to a peachy-orange color.
Gather the leaves in summer when they are full grown and spread them on newspapers in a warm attic room until they seem thoroughly dry. Pack them in fruit jars and heat the jar in a very low oven for 30 minutes. This preheating protects them from mold and if two piece dome lids are placed on the jars while they are still hot, cooling will cause them to vacuum seal and they will keep perfectly fresh through the year.

From chapter entitled "The Sugar-Plum Tree," page 169

The first time I dried these leaves I plucked them each off the branch
and put them in a thrifted food dehydrator.
It took less than an hour to dry them to a crisp.

The next batch, the-Man just broke off small branches with leaves intact
and placed them on a screen in our lean-to
to dry in the summer heat out of bright sunlight.
He left them about a week,
then brought them in and just crumbled the leaves into the storage jar.
Much simpler, much less work!

I do believe that I will try the oven canning method
Mr. Gibbons describes above when we move and are settled,
as we will not be living in such a temperature controlled environment
and the humidity could very well cause mold to form
which would make us very sad!

A couple of gallons of the crumbled dried leaves will get us through a winter.
Due to moving, we only have about a half gallon dried for the upcoming season...
so it is a weekend treat instead of an everyday one!

Unfortunately, there are no persimmon trees in the locale to which we are moving.
I believe that we will be planting some--
we love this beverage that much!

It makes a delicious plain tea, which is how we first tried it.
Adding the soymilk has been a recent experiment,
and I'm hooked.

I realize it's not coffee...
but it is better for me...

I'm very satisfied with my new "lattea."

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