As you might expect, experienced olive farmers prune their olive trees in the spring, to maintain healthy trees. This allows light and air to circulate helping to prevent disease. Although most leaves are composted, the team select the best olive leaves for drying. The leaves are cracked, rather than ground to a powder, to release their flavour. In effect, olive leaf infusion is a by-product of the olive oil making process.
tea or infusion?
You might find olive leaf “tea” when you google online, rather than “infusion”. In the UK, unlike the USA, the word “tea” has to be used only for the leaves of the camellia sinensis plant, which is where tea comes from. Unlike tea leaves, they are caffeine-free, and obviously come form a tree and not a tea shrub. Hence, we asked the producer to change the label to comply with UK trading standards.
The photo above shows the leaves in the process of drying, so they are still fairly green. Apart from being naturally caffeine-free, the leaves contain an active compound called oleuropein. Health professionals have recently become interested in this antioxidant for its health benefits. It is said to lower blood pressure and has immune boosting potential. However, it wasn’t why we chose it. We loved the taste!
Just the opposite. While some people associate olives with tasting bitter, the infusion is smooth and mellow. However, if you were to leave the leaves too long in the hot water, the resulting liquid does become more bitter. So remember to strain all the liquid after 6-7 minutes, and then add more hot water for your second cup.
Recycling the leaves is good housekeeping! We re-infuse ours three times, at least. The leaves are loose, not in tea bags, so you can add them to your compost or food waste.
Helpfully the label peel off really easily to make a stylish storage tin. We use one as a pencil pot, put some rubber bands in another and also store open seed packets in one too! What will you use yours for?
Read our shorkk story about olive leaf infusion.