Mulberry Leaf Tea Part 1 – Fresh

Mulberry tea series : Part 1 – Fresh, Part 2 – Dried, Part 3 – Fresh vs Dried

My first encounter with the word Mulberry came from the nursery rhyme “Round the mulberry bush” in preschool. I always had this vision of strange waist-high rounded bush.

In my twenties, when I was busy devouring documentaries and obsessing about the origin of every items we take for granted, I found out mulberry is what you feed silkworms. Mulberry was transformed from a European to a Chinese flora. Even so, I still had no idea what Mulberry, both tree and fruit look like. There must be a berry kind of fruit, right? It’s in the name. I imagined it would be round, like blueberries or cherries.

A few years ago, my dad planted a tree and called it mulberry tree. Mum went on about the manifold benefits of mulberry, from fruits, to leaves, to bark, and even the white mold that grows on it. Traditional Chinese medicine had been using mulberry for a long long time.

Now, I know what mulberry looks like. It’s not a waist-high round bush. It’s a tree, with small hairy elongated clustered fruits. What strange transformations mulberry had taken to get to the real thing.

Mulberry branch with leaves and fruits

Mulberry branch with leaves and fruits

But the good thing about having a physical real life tree in the garden is that I now have an unending source of raw materials to experiment with. You see, few things are more frustrating than learning something interesting and not being able to apply the new shinny information. When I was obsessing over duct-tapes, I went through several stationery stores until I could find that stuff that had the right thickness and width. When I was obsessing about paracord, I ordered 100ft of it off Ebay! But I can’t exactly order a mulberry tree, now, could I?

So, today, while Dad was pruning the tree (to keep it short and to encourage it to fruit), I grabbed two branches of those lovely leaves. Naturally, the next questions is … what do I do with them leaves? Google google … Right. The simplest is to make mulberry tea.

Now, the default way to make any kind of tea is to pour hot water over dried leaves and steep it. I have fresh leaves. And getting from fresh leaves to tea leaves involved complicated process similar to producing oolong tea or english tea, I was ready to chuck the whole thing into the compost.

Fortunately, for mulberry, it was easy. There are two ways. Fresh or dried. So, since I have fresh leaves, I tried the first method.

Fresh mulberry leaf tea

1. Get 3 fresh clean mulberry leaves.
2. Boil some water.
3. Cut leaves into rough strips (~1cm).
4. Put leaves in boiling water.
5. Boil until water turns light green.
6. The leaves may turn brown.
7. Filter out the leaves.
Done.

Mulberry tea was surprisingly good. And that is saying something, for a Chinese tea drinker like me. It has a nice soft fragrance that reminds me of pandan, with a slight sweet taste and quite smooth.

Smooth is important when I drink tea. English/Ceylon tea is not smooth, but harsh and acidic and needed sugar, lemon, milk or spices to make it drinkable. Chinese tea, especially good quality Ti-kwan-yin, Hong-pao, and Pu-er are smooth. Smooth tea don’t make your mouth feel dry when you drink it. Anyway, I digress.

Mulberry tea, through the boiling method, reminds me of Green tea. So, if you like green tea, you should give mulberry tea (fresh) a try. Provided you have a convenient tree nearby.

For the remainder of the leaves, I have cleaned them and set them out to dry. Hopefully, in a few days, I’ll have some sample of Dry method to try so I can make a comparison.

Note: For the multitude of benefits from mulberry, please google, yahoo or bing it.

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10 Comments »

  1. Charles said

    Dear Kathy,
    I have a mulberry tree for many years now. The only I enjoyed this tree is the fruit, and that also with much battles with the birds. However, I have recently been told by a friend that the leaves make good medicinal tea. But I have no idea how to process the leaves so that they are of tea quality. Having googled about mulberry leaf tea I read that you should not use fresh leaves as they contain certain chemical that could be harmful to the body. But reading your blog, you wrote about using fresh leaves and boiling them to make tea. My big question is – is it safe to make tea from fresh mulberry leaves? I hope it really is as I want to go and do it straight away. Thanks.

    Charles

    • cohlinn said

      From experience, I can speak only of Morus alba (White mulberry), which is found throughout Asia. Mulberry is not only planted as food for silkworms, it is also used extensively in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), where every part of the tree is used for medicinal, detoxification, and nutritional properties.

      With regards to the toxicity of the leaves, there had been several internet sources (none of them I would call completely reliable) that mentioned the leaves have hallucinogenic effect, either from mature leaves or young leaves. The information as far as I know are hearsay, and contradictory.

      From more reliable sources (science journals and lifestock/agriculture websites), there is no mention of toxicity.

      That said, I don’t eat mulberry leaves raw. When freshly plucked, it has white sap. However, the mulberry tea I made from fresh leaves are boiled to make the tea. We even use the softer young leaves as vegetables in soups and congee (rice porridge). The leaves is safe as long as it is ‘cooked’ first.

      For tea, I prefer sun drying the leaves to crisp and crumbling them. It is more convenient and easier to store.

      Again, with regards to the leaves, I have to add a warning if you use the leaves in any form, be it in pill, extract, dried, or fresh. Watch out for signs of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) when you take mulberry leaves. Be careful and consult your doctor if you have some form of blood sugar related disorder (e.g. diabetes, low blood sugar, etc.).

      The leaves contain 1-deoxynojirimycin (DNJ), which acts as an anti-hyperglycemic agent (similar to diabetes type 2 medication) by slowing the rate of carbohydrate breakdown in the intestines. This delays glucose absorption and reduces blood sugar ‘spikes’ after a meal. Be aware of this can multiply the effect of existing medications used to treat blood-sugar disorders.

      This is the reason TCM uses mulberry leaves to treat diabetes and prevention of diabetes for high risk individuals. As home remedy, it is used as a slimming/weight-loss tea. If I interpret the bio-chemistry jargons in the report correctly, DNJ also helps burn sugar in the liver.

      Personally, I think a cup of mulberry tea is good with a meal and definitely a must with dessert!

      Source:
      Li, Y.-G., Ji, D.-F., Zhong, S., Lin, T.-B., Lv, Z.-Q., Hu, G.-Y., & Wang, X. (2013). 1-deoxynojirimycin inhibits glucose absorption and accelerates glucose metabolism in streptozotocin-induced diabetic mice. [10.1038/srep01377]. Sci. Rep., 3. Extracted from http://www.nature.com/srep/2013/130328/srep01377/full/srep01377.html

  2. douglas said

    The White Mulberries are fairly common in the forests of the Lower Mississippi Valley, having been spread by birds, plus the flood waters of the Mississippi River. For that reason, they are more common on the myriad islands in the river and on the banks than farther inland. A search of almost any of the forested islands will yield some of the trees.

  3. twhite48 said

    In a colder climate, along the north shore Lake Superior… deer are eating the leaves and young growing tips of my black mulberry and very thorny blackberry bushes. After putting up protective fencing and wire mesh barriers my next thought was what’s the attraction for deer? So I picked green leaves, cut them into pieces and strips with poultry shears, added dried stevia leaf and water in a blender, gave it a good macerating 20-30 seconds. Let sit a while and drank it cold. Blackberry was bland, mulberry had a nice fruity taste. Following up, I tried the same method with two different black currant varieties, Consort and Ben Sarak. Consort was the clear winner, not the same as cassis flavor but good fruity and better even than the black mulberry. I am going to try this with other leaves, cold green leaf infusion.

    • twhite48 said

      Forgot to tag on for further comments!

      • Anonymous said

        Hey, TWHITE48, please consider that many animals have evolved to consume plants that kill other animals. Like, I can eat onions but onions will kill my dog. I can eat cocoa, but it will kill my dog. You should switch your experimental method to a nondestructive testing mode. Like, use the internet to find out what other cultures have been doing for hundreds of years before just blending up leaves and drinking them. PLEASE reconsider your method.

        • twhite48 said

          Chill out! Info is all grist for the mill. My comment was about the method as much as about the ingredients. I was not going into it blind as you seem to assume. Of course, due diligence and usual precautions. But as you should know, many fruit and berry leaves are commonly used for tea, some of those mentioned specifically. About onions, cocoa, raisins etc being toxic… many plants and foods that humans and animals eat are toxic but only lethal according to qty. (Brazil nuts!?!)
          “Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.” The Buddha

          • sharon said

            Mulberry leaves are toxic if not cooked or dried. the toxin is in the sap. That’s why silkworms are not good bird food after a certain age. In fact, I thought you were supposed to throw out the first water after boiiling them.

          • cohlinn said

            There is a reason mulberry has very little pest. Its sap contains DNJ (see previous comment). It blocks absorption of sugar.
            Anything that eats it but cannot counteract it will slowly die of starvation. It won’t keel over and die immediately like a normal poison.
            That’s why it is not for feeding lifestock. That’s why it is sometimes said to be toxic.
            It is toxic for someone who is hypoglycemic.
            It is beneficial for modern diseases caused by too much carbohydrates and very little physical activity.
            It is a matter of perspectives and objectives. That said, drinking the tea will give one lower doses than popping a pill concentrate.

            Again, simple Asian saying … everything in moderation.

        • twhite48 said

          SHAKESPEARE “In herbs, plants, stones, and their true qualities:
          For nought so vile that on the earth doth live
          But to the earth some special good doth give,
          Nor aught so good but strain’d from that fair use
          Revolts from true birth, stumbling on abuse:
          Virtue itself turns vice, being misapplied;
          And vice sometimes by action dignified.”

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