I’ve been in the herbal tea business for 11 years now. I’ve researched the herbs we sell extensively, interviewed some of the top experts, walked miles in farm furrows in countries all over the world, written hundreds of articles and consumed a LOT of tea. I think, in my admittedly tiny niche, I’m a legitimate expert. But when it comes to people’s health, my policy is, check and double-check.
After my last blog post I received an email from a reader that concerned me. This reader had found a discussion on a popular urban foraging website that said white mulberry leaves were toxic. Since my last post was on White Mulberry Matcha French Toast I was concerned. We’re the leading retailer in the USA of White Mulberry Leaf Tea. We sell white mulberry leaf capsules and we offer culinary grade white mulberry matcha. Had I missed something? Was I selling a product that would make people sick?
I had a lot of evidence and experience to the contrary. Most livestock, especially pigs, absolutely love white mulberry leaves. White mulberry leaves are used in cuisines around the world. I’ve eaten lamb stuffed mulberry leaves in Lebanon and chicken stuffed white mulberry leaves in China (with a fried silk worms as a garnish, but I digress!).
White mulberry leaf matcha is second only to green tea matcha in Japan and is available in many tea shops. The way a traditional Japanese matcha is prepared there is no way to not consume a lot of the leaf itself. In fact, that’s one of the benefits of this style of preparation.
So, what gives? Why would a respected forager and herbalist say white mulberry leaves were toxic and warn his readers against them? I started my research with the most obvious first step, I googled, “Are white mulberry leaves toxic?” If you don’t actually read the resulting web entries and just scanned the headings quickly, the results are pretty scary. White mulberry appears up on several state agriculture website’s under the heading “Poisonous Plants”. There’s even a research study (on page one of the search results no less) on the toxicity of white mulberry wood to makers of traditional lutes in Iran. That was enough to clue me in that the toxicity concern was not totally unfounded. Time to dig deeper.
I came up for air several hours later. I especially enjoyed the research study on traditional lute making. Who knew they were made out of white mulberry wood? But I also ended my research much relieved. The bottom line with white mulberry wood and leaves is that the sap, the same sap that makes the silk from silk worms such a wonder, is indeed mildly toxic. If you get it on your skin it will cause a rash and if you eat a handful of raw leaves you may get nauseous. But once cooked or dried, white mulberry leave are not only perfectly safe but, as you’ve heard me say many times already, very good for you.
White mulberry leaves have been shown to not only be rich in nutrients and anti-oxidants but also contain DNJ. DNJ has been found to help your body block the absorption of dietary sugars and so can be beneficial for helping to manage blood sugar or as part of a weight loss regimen.
So what’s the moral of the story? 1) Science is fun! (at least for nerds like me) 2) the internet can be a confusing place, check and double check, and most importantly, 3) You can continue enjoying white mulberry leaf products from The Immortalitea Company. They are not only perfectly safe, they are good for you.