Serendipity placed me in front of sassafras twice in almost exactly 24 hours. Yesterday I was with a friend and expert forager who saw it on the edge of the woods. He pointed out each of the three unique leaves of the sassafras tree and pulled out a small root for me to smell.
Today I visited the Aptucxet Trading Post Museum in Bourne, Massachusetts and what do I see but a sassafras tree! The museum guide pointed out the leaves, scratched the root to have me smell and it was déjà vu all over again.
The original tea that settlers in North America drank and exported was made from the root of the sassafras tree. Sassafras was used for other things ranging from shipbuilding to toothbrushes, but when you smell it you probably think of root beer. And of course you’d be right; the oil from sassafras root gives flavor and the name to root beer. That was my favorite soft drink growing up. I don’t drink it sugary drinks anymore, but at the moment I’m craving some root beer. Instead, I purchased some sassafras tea from the gift store at the Aptucxet Trading Post Museum and will make a sugar-free sassafras drink. And toast the tree it came from.