Soursop tea or soursop leaf tea has a wonderful unique flavor – think of it as a mild herbaceous taste. It’s hard to describe but it is an enjoyable tea.
What is Soursop?
Soursop is a common fruit tree in the Caribbean (and the Americas at large).
Its botanical name is Annona muricate but you may know it as graviola, guyabano, or guanabana. I’ve seen it called Brazilian paw paw too.
Surprise (or not), I have a soursop tree. It’s thin and tall; but only bore fruit once in five years (bummer!). This year it’s flowering again – that’s 2020 for you!
Luckily, this tea uses soursop leaves and not the fruit. Thankfully!
By the way, if you can get your hands on a soursop fruit, make soursop juice! You will love it.
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How to Make Soursop Tea
I use the young leaves to make the tea… Now, I can’t give you a reason why, other than that’s what my mom told me to use.
I think the tea is milder with the younger leaves, but I’m not sure if the chemical composition of the tea is different.
The younger leaves are lighter in color and softer. You can see the difference here:
Now, not everyone has their own soursop tree. And if you find soursop leaves for sale, they are likely to be the larger, more mature leaves. That’s fine too.
Place three to four young leaves (or one to two mature leaves) in a pot of boiling water and boil for ten to fifteen minutes.
You don’t want to use more leaves otherwise your tea will be too strong.
Remove from the heat and allow to steep for another ten to fifteen minutes. It’ll darken in that time. Serve immediately.
It really has a wonderful, unique taste.
Or get the tea bags instead:
Soursop Tea Benefits
There are lots of claims floating around the internet about the benefits of soursop tea. Many of the claims – especially the anticancer ones – are NOT conclusive and NOT clinically proven. In fact, there are very few clinical studies on the tea itself.
From my own experience, the tea is calming, relaxing and acts like a sedative (it’ll make you very sleepy!).
Traditionally, the tea is also used to treat infections, arthritis, and rheumatism. And there is some research that supports these uses.
Now let’s talk about annonacin.
Annonacin is a compound in soursop tea and juice. It is a proven lethal neurotoxin, meaning too much of it will have toxic effects on your nervous system. Annonacin can also adversely affect your metabolism.
Researchers linked the neurotoxicity of annonacin to increased cases of Parkinson’s in Guadeloupe, an island in the Caribbean.
And a 2014 animal study found large doses of annonacin caused brain lesions to develop in the animals. In fact, the researchers showed similarities between the brain lesions in the animals and in the Guadeloupean patients.
On the other side of this, many scientists believe it’s impossible to link the Parkinson’s cases directly to the consumption of soursop.
Too much soursop tea is bad for you.
Strong tea is not better either. Strong tea can make you very, very sleepy.
Soursop tea and cancer
Ok, let’s talk about the elephant in the room… Soursop’s effects on cancer…
There are lots of articles online that tout soursop tea as a cancer cure. You’ll also see hopeful comments, reviews and anecdotes too.
BUT soursop has NOT been clinically proven to treat cancer.
According to Cancer Research UK:
“In laboratory studies, soursop extracts can kill some types of liver and breast cancer cells… A more recent study showed that soursop pulp extract has an effect on prostate cancer cells in mice. But there have not been any studies in humans. So, we don’t know whether it can work as a cancer treatment or not.”
Since then, few clinical studies (like this one from 2017) have been done. They show positive results but they are very small studies. And they are not enough to confirm any anticancer benefits.
The researchers even point out soursop’s potential for treating cancer may not be worth its harmful neurotoxic effects.
So, if you are a cancer patient, soursop tea will NOT cure your cancer. You can have the tea occasionally. It can ease your mind … but it’s not the solution!
Soursop Tea Recipe
Easy Soursop Tea Recipe
- 3 cups water
- 3 – 4 young soursop leaves
- Add washed leaves to the water.
- Boil for 10 – 15 minutes.
- Allow to steep for another 10 – 15 minutes.
- Sweeten and serve immediately.
Ever had soursop leaf tea? Share your thoughts I’d love to hear them.