Is Full of Vitamin C!

sumac berries

Sumac tea is easy to make and readily available in the late summer and fall here in Minnesota. There are several varieties of edible sumac that thrive throughout North America. These shrubs or small trees have lemon scented, alternate leaves and grow from 4 to 20 feet tall. The upright berries are ripe usually in late August through October. As long as the berries are red or red-orange they are safe to use and make one of the best tasting iced teas around! The flavor is reminiscent of a mild cranberry lemonade and is a great source of natural vitamin C.


Everyone's heard of poison sumac but the plant is much different than the edible species. It is not a very common plant so I don't have a picture but here's a brief description to help you identify it:

  • It grows only in wetlands
  • It has white berries that droop in loose clusters
  • The leaves are smooth
  • No hair on stems
  • It has 7-9 leaves per stem

Since we are using the upright red berries for sumac tea you don't need to worry about mistaking edible sumac for the poison variety!


Pick 3-5 bright red berry clusters on a dry day and crush lightly with your hands. Put the berries in a pitcher and fill with cold water. Let the berries infuse for anywhere between a couple hours to a couple days depending on your taste. Strain through a coffee filter or cheese cloth as some varieties of sumac have irritating, tiny hairs that you'd rather not ingest. (A coffee press or french press is a great investment as it has a strainer built in) Once your tea is strained, sip and enjoy one of the best pink lemonades ever!

sumac berries


The sumac berries are full of natural vitamin C. That is the reason you use only cold water to make sumac berry-ade as hot water destroys the vitamin C.

American Indians knew sumac was full of the natural c vitamin and used it to treat colds, fever and scurvy. They also used the ground berries mixed with clay as a poultice on open sores and wounds. Native Americans also mixed the dried sumac berries with tobacco to smoke in peace pipes!

Sumac has also been used for diarrhea, dysentery, sore throats, infections, asthma, cold sores and even as a general tonic. You can even make sumac wine or a sumac tincture if you are so inclined.

Sumac is not only a useful plant but is an exceptionaly beautiful red in the fall!

Red leaves of sumac in fall

"When the earth is sick and polluted,
human health is impossible....
To heal ourselves we must heal our planet,
and to heal our planet we must heal ourselves."
Bobby McLeod

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What Other Visitors Have Said

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I have made sumac tea many times  
Sumac tea has a tart citrus-like flavor and chilled is delicious with a bit of added honey . The red berries grow ripe by the end of summer in much of …

One serious inaccuracy in an otherwise good article 
Heat from boiling water does not destroy Vitamin C. It will kill off spiders and yeast and a few other potentially undesirable things that may be in the …

Be very careful with sumac 
Sumac usually comes in two varieties: Red which is supposed able to be ingested and white which is poisonous. However , before injesting anything made …

Get to know and love Sumac 
First noticed food in Turkey with this colourful and tasty spice added to it. The flavour is unique and has a real benefit to those that use and consume …

I had a small booklet of old recipes. I found a recipe for nervine tea for stress or a calming tea. The ingredients were 1)sumac berries,I used smooth …

Pony Cough  
My farrier told me to make the tea for my pony who has a bad cough for no reason. I haven't tried it yet, but she uses it all the time and says it works. …

Sumac tincture. 
hello, my wife and I are just getting into tincture making. Both of us are researching medicinal values of different herbs and plants. I came across sumac …

cough syrup 
A native elder suggested sumac syrup for my son's cough: equal parts sugar and brewed sumac tea, simmer until reduced to 1/2 or less and has syrupy consistency. …

Sumac used in apiary 
My grandfather raised bees and harvested honey and beeswax 55 years ago. When harvesting the honey from the bee hives, he would use the smoke from sumac …

Meyer Lemon & Sumac Hummus 
Meyer Lemon & Sumac Hummus Recipe 2 cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed 4 small garlic cloves, peeled 2 small meyer lemons, zest and juiced …

Make Sumac Powder 
Did you know you can make sumac powder to use as a spice? True! Powdered sumac has a tart flavor that can be used on fish, chicken, over salad dressings, …

Easy Sumac Tea 
Here is a real easy way to make sumac tea. Like green tea sumac berries are a natural source of tannins. In addition, sumac berries contain gallic …

Staghorn Sumac Suntea 
Staghorn Sumac Suntea Infusion Lemonade! Put fresh sumac in a glass container, add cold living spring water & let it sit in the sun for several hours or …

Vitamin C Content in Sumac? 
What is your source about the vitamin c content of sumac berries?

Herbal Sumac Uses 
Author and herbalist Matthew Wood talks about the many medicinal uses of one of his favorite herbs- sumac.

Identify and Forage for Sumac 
Learn with Green Deane about the wild food sumac, a source of vitamin C and a cooling drink that tastes like lemonade.

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