If you’ve read other Kawakawa tea recipes, this method isn’t anything new. But here’s a fun story about kawakawa you can tell your tea drinking friends and family.
As a good luck charm, Maori would place a sprig of kawakawa under the bed when they’re having sex with the plan to conceive. This makes the kawakawa tree an important tree for Maori families at all stages of their life.
Next up is the recipe, what you’re here for. But continue reading beyond the recipe to learn more about the kawakawa plant, including which leaves are the best to harvest.
HOW TO MAKE KAWAKAWA TEA
(IT’S NOT ROCKET SCIENCE)
(IT’S NOT ROCKET SCIENCE)
Makes 500 mls of tea and takes ~20 minutes assuming you’ve already harvested your kawakawa leaves.
WHAT YOU NEED
- 8-10 fresh kawakawa leaves
- 500 ml of water
- 1x pot
1. Harvest 8 – 10 kawakawa leaves.
2. Lightly rinse the kawakawa leaves in cold water (you can lightly tear them if you like).
3. Pour 500 ml of water in a pot.
4. Bring the water to a boil.
5. Add the tea leaves to the boiling water (optional: 1 cm of finely cut/grated ginger).
6. Immediately bring the water to a simmer.
7. Simmer for 15 minutes.
8. Strain the tea to serve (optional: add lemon or infuse with green tea).
9. Drink up!
I made a silly little video of the process too.
TIPS FOR HARVESTING KAWAKAWA LEAVES
It’s not complicated, but here are a few tips for harvesting the soft-dark green heart-shaped leaves.
- The leaves with holes are fine to eat. Recent studies have said that when the nocturnal looper caterpillar1 eats the plant, it will produce more active compounds (good things) in the area where the wholes are.
- Pick the dark green leaves. If they’re dry and rolling up, they’ve got a disease.
- The leaves on the side of the tree the sun shines on are thought to be best.
- The kawakawa plant is abundant in coastal areas where there’s lowland forest. You shouldn’t have any troubles finding kawakawa in anywhere there are native plants.
- 8-10 leaves are enough for one pot of tea.
p.s. If you’re not familiar with the kawakawa, double-check you’re harvesting the right plant.
KAWAKAWA TEA BENEFITS
Some call the kawakawa a pharmacy in a plant as it’s well known for its medicinal properties (it’s anti-microbial and anti-parasitic).
When the leaves are brewed as a tea, it’s know to:
- help soothe digestive problems and sore throats
- be a diuretic which helps urinaly tract health
- act as an anti-inflammatory
- help prevent liver damage
- eliminate wind a.k.a. farts (I cannot confirm this yet…)
Note: It does not contain caffeine.
When the Maori first arrived in New Zealand, the kawakawa roots and leaves were boiled for its aphrodisiac properties. It was super powerful as a herbal drink, used to treat gonorrhea, worms, and to address chest, kidney, and bladder pains. People would even take baths infused with kawakawa leaves to treat boils, skin issues, and bruises.
These practices aren’t known to be commonplace, nor recommended today.
SOME FACTS ABOUT KAWAKAWA
AN AMERICAN LEARNS ABOUT KAWAKAWAY
The first time I made kawakawa tea was documented on video thanks to my mate Garrett!
Garrett’s vlogs are super high quality, you should give his ones from New Zealand a watch (the ones published in 2019). In the video below the kawakawa makes an appearance at the four-minute mark, and we taste the kawakawa tea towards the end.
These were useful places I found for information while making this post:
- The Meaning Of Trees by Robert Vennell
- A Forager’s Treasury by Johanna Knox (available on Kindle)
- Foraging: Kawakawa on RadioNZ
If you’ve got any questions about kawakawa tea, send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment below. If you try making it yourself, let me know how you get on!
You’ve made tea from a native plant, what’s next on your list? This list will give you some ideas.
If you do the Hemi Matenga walk, you’ll have no shortage of opportunities to forage for kawakawa leaves.
I haven’t found a kawakawa infused vegan burger yet. But if there’s, I’ll definitely give it a go!