Invasives: Oriental Bittersweet Tea

Did I share with you what a wonderful thing it is? I was surprised at the subtle and delicious taste it has, that resembled the dark twig tea of a tea plant, only without the caffeine. Instead, the drink is full of healing goodness and I couldn’t stop having a cup after cup all day, feeling like something very subtle is being fixed inside me.

Oriental Bittersweet is an invasive plant and our NYC parks if full of this medicinal and gourmet vine. Please get to harvest it and relief many trees of this burden.

About a month ago, when I volunteered to remove the Asiatic Bittersweet from Van Cortlandt, I distributed few flyers about the medicinal and edible properties of the invasive weeds among other volunteers. Many people were shocked when they learned about what power plants they are encountering. Still, when I begin to cut the bittersweet vine in chunks and put it in my bag, some people thought I am a little crazy, or at least, “different”. No one took any vine home accept for me. Hundreds of pounds of this amazing plant was just thrown away and wasted.

Well, here is another inspiring message: the Oriental Bittersweet tea is not only good for you, but also delicious.
Here are the properties of the plant, once again:

Oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus) is an Asian folk medicine used for treating rheumatoid arthritis and bacterial infections. Medical and pharmacological studies show that Oriental bittersweet derivatives have antitumor, antiinflammatory, antioxidant, antibacterial, and insecticidal properties [66,67,108]. One Oriental bittersweet derivative shows ability to reverse multidrug resistance of cancer cells to cancer-treatment drugs [75,76].
Oriental bittersweet bark is used as a fine fiber in China [175]. Enzymes in Oriental bittersweet leaves clot milk. These leaf extracts may provide an alternative to calf rennet enzymes used in making cheese (which probably will not save many calves slaughtered right after birth, but makes cheese-eating a little less cruel).

Thank you for your appreciation of our Nature,



About Anya Pozdeeva, vifarms

Vertically Integrated Urbarn Aquaponics, Permaponics, Permaculture and Sustainable Living, New York Style!
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4 Responses to Invasives: Oriental Bittersweet Tea

  1. Pingback: FOLK MEDICINE | storymama01

  2. Hi! I am wondering if you can tell me how you make this tea? With the bark? With the leaves?

    • Janet,
      Harvest the twigs, vine and root. You can tell the plant by a bright-red berries in orange or yellow pods in fall and winter. Do not eat the berries, they are slightly poisonous.
      Remember, that oriental bittersweet looks like a bush, when growing by itself, or becomes a vine when it has something to climb- a tree or a fence. The plant is a shape-shifter.
      After collecting the bright orange roots and woody vine, soak and wash them well, slice with pruning shears into smaller pieces and let dry at a room temperature for a few weeks. Keep in paper bag for a future use.

      Oriental Bittersweet tea
      To make tea, boil 1 tbs. dry material in 2 cups water for 5-10 minutes and let cool. It has pleasant neutral flavor and feels very good.

      Note: How to tell Oriental Bittersweet and American Bittersweet apart?

      Oriental Bittersweet:
      Stem has blunt thorns, berries are copious, appearing all along the vine, Husks are bright yellow, Pollen is white.

      American Bittersweet: Stem is smooth, Berries appearing at tips of vine only, Husks are Orange, Pollen is yellow

      Be careful not to disperse seeds of invasive plants when using the plant in decorations.

      The e-book “Food Under Your Feet” has a lots of Cooking with Weeds recipes,
      Thank you for reading the blog, and spread the good word!

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