olive leaf infusion

Looking at the variety of tempting Lebanese products to select for shorkk, a tin of olive leaf infusion caught our eye. Dried olive leaves? Caffeine-free? We’re always on the look out for a hot drink for the evenings. This we had to try.

Youssef Fares, owner and producer of Zejd, is conscientious in his efforts to make olive oil production as sustainable as possible. He uses wastewater to irrigate his land, though not the olive trees. Locals use the olive stones and husks left over after processing, to form a fuel briquette. Traditionally mountain dwellers burned olive stones in braziers for heat. Today these briquettes are regaining their popularity in Lebanon, as the economic crisis has made imported oil, used for heating, scarce.

Olive trees need pruning to direct their energy into growing olives. Pruning also makes the harvest easier, so the leaves become an abundant by-product of olive oil production. Research has shown that an active compound, oleuropein,  appears more in the leaves than in the olives.  This polyphenol, an antioxidant, is found in greater quantities in dry olive leaves. Studies have shown that it can help to reduce blood pressure and boost our immune systems. So, by making something out of this waste-product, olive oil producers have created their own example of “nose to tail” farming.

The olive leaves are washed, and left to dry, not easy over the winter when the outside temperatures are low, compounded by the current energy crisis.  The beautiful silvery green leaves are then cracked before being packed, to allow for a better infusion.

Olive leaf infusion is not a typical Lebanese drink, but this gentle tasting hot drink is very popular with our UK customers. Tastings at the markets in Bristol have surprised many who find its mellow smooth finish a welcome addition to their collection of herbal hot drinks. The fact that you can re-infuse the leaves, is also a popular selling point, as we all look to make the most of our purchases.

olive leaf infusion
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