olive leaf infusion
“Olive leaf infusion – never heard of it?” A remark we often hear at the farmers’ markets, and to be fair, we hadn’t either. In fact we haven’t come across many Lebanese who are aware of it. So what is it about these Lebanese olive leaves which makes it so special? Why has it become such a best seller at the markets we attend?
Youssef Fares, owner and producer of Zejd, is conscientious in his efforts to make olive oil production as sustainable as possible. He irrigates his land with wastewater, though not the olive trees, as the production of olive oil requires a lot of water. He gives local farmers husks and olive pits left over from the processing, so that they can make fuel briquettes. In Lebanon mountain dwellers burned olive pits in braziers for heat. Today briquettes made from olive pits are regaining their popularity in Lebanon, as the economic crisis has made imported oil, used for heating, scarce and very expensive.
Olive trees need pruning to direct their energy into producing healthy olives. Pruning allows the air to circulate, minimising the chances of disease, so the leaves become an abundant by-product of olive oil production. Research has shown that olive leaves contain an active compound called oleuropein. 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.
While olive leaf infusion is not a typical Lebanese drink, this mellow hot drink has proved a success with our UK customers. Its smooth and gentle appeal are a welcome addition to more everyday 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.