By Saundra Winokur
Owner, Sandy Oak Olive Orchard
ELMENDORF –For centuries, olive trees have been valued for the medicinal properties of not only the fruit and oil, but also the leaves.
When I started my orchard in 1998, I read every article I could find about the virtues of olive oil. In the process, I learned that the ancients brewed a medicinal drink from the leaves, using it to treat various ailments and fevers.
That piece of information piqued my curiosity so I brewed a cup for myself, only to discover that the healthful tea is also quite tasty. I served some to my crew at Sandy Oaks, and from that point forward, we drink it hot every winter and iced every summer. During the exceptionally cold winter of 2015, my staff and I consumed buckets of hot tea to help alleviate the aches and discomfort that accompany colds, allergies and sinus infections.
In 2002, I used leaves to make a unique olive leaf jelly. The recipe is obviously a closely guarded secret. When you taste it, you are definitely in for a treat. We use it in a number of ways in our restaurant, The Kitchen, which we opened in 2009.
It was so good, we began serving the olive leaf tea to our customers. We also serve it for special events and offer a sample in our gift shop and at the Farmer’s Market. Not surprisingly, our customers prefer olive leaf iced-tea to the traditional iced-tea that we also offer.
Sandy Oaks leaves are used in several of our products because olive leaves contain twice the antioxidants found in green tea and 400 percent more vitamin C then other sources of that vitamin.
All of our skin care products are made using the leaves in one form or another. Our creams are made with extra virgin olive oil, infused with olive leaves. Our soaps are made with olive leaf tea as the liquid in the manufacturing process, and some of them also contain the ground up leaves in the bar.
So, celebrate the leaf with us! Buy fresh leaves from us at our booth at the Pearl Farmers Market, in our store at the orchard, or from our on-line store. Better yet, come dine in our restaurant at Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard or stop by our booth at Pearl Farmers Market to taste our freshly brewed olive leaf tea.
Editor’s note: Check out Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard’s website here for a thorough preview of the property just a 25-minute drive from downtown San Antonio at 25195 Mathis Road. If you love the olive leaf tea — you can buy it by the bagful at the store or grow your own — from a tree at the olive tree nursery, also carefully managed at Sandy Oaks.