our recipe for neem tree tea is an African health tonic (www.africanepicure.com)

Flickr: Yogita Mehra

Drinking a tonic made of organic, freshly-harvested neem leaves is something done by many East African families of Indian decent. My friends in Stone Town, in Zanzibar, cook this up and drink it with their family once a week, on Sundays.

Please use with caution, and no neem for you if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, or taking medication. (Also, neem is strong so you might want to ask your health care practitioner before you start using it regularly.)

And fair warning: this drink is beyond bitter. Some may even find it vile. You are going to want to make this drink strong, so that you don’t have to drink very much of it. You’re also going to want to drink it quickly. There is an ongoing debate about whether it tastes worse hot or cold, and I prefer hot. Decide for yourself.

If you make this but decide, after one whiff of the tea, that you can’t drink it, no worries. Add it to the bath water and it makes a lovely skin treatment.

Neem Tea Health Tonic

When you gather fresh neem leaves, do so gently and only take what you need. Neem often grows in big cities, so be sure to gather away from places where there’s lots of traffic. Rinse the leaves off when you get home and use them as soon as possible.

500 ml water

1 cup of neem leaves, removed from their branches

1. Put the leaves in the pot and arranged them so that they are covered by the water.

2. Bring the water to the boil and let it simmer for about 10 minutes.

3. Let the tea cool in the pot and strain it when you’re ready to drink it.

Suggestions for when to drink neem tea as a health tonic:

  • When you feel like you might have a parasite. (If you think you do, go see your doctor!)
  • On an empty stomach as a general tonic to cleanse your system.
  • When living in malarial areas or where there are other prevalent tropical fevers, as a health tonic to support your immune system.

To find out more cool things about the amazing neem tree, check out:

Neem Tree
Neem Leaves
Neem Oil