Red Root Cut (Jersey Tea)


Botanical NameCeanothus americanus

Common Name:

  • English: Red Root, New Jersey Tea, Jersey Tea
  • Also, known as: Céanothe d'Amérique, Ceanothus americanus, Ceanothus intermedius, Jersey Tea, Indian Tea, Lirios de California, Mountain-Sweet, Red Root, Redroot, Té de Nueva Jersey, Thé du New Jersey, Walpole Tea, Wild Snowball. 

Origin: North America  

Harvested: Wild

Parts Used: Root                                                                 

General Information:

Ceanothus americanus, known as New Jersey tea and Red root, is common from Canada to the Gulf states of America. It is usually called ‘New Jersey Tea’ in America because its leaves were used as a substitute for tea during the War of Independence. It takes another name ‘Red root’ from its large red roots. It is a low, upright, deciduous shrub that grows to only 3-5 feet tall. It tillers at the base, sending up multiple stems that are erect to ascending. These stems are light green to light yellow, terete, and pubescent or hairy, becoming woody with age in the absence of fire or browsing from animals.

The leaves are alternate or opposite; they occur along the entire length of each stem. The leaves are up to 3" long and 2" across; they are ovate in shape and their margins are smooth to finely serrated and slightly ciliate. The upper leaf surface is pale-medium to dark green, and smooth to somewhat rough from minute stiff hairs. The lower leaf surface is pale green and pubescent or hairy; hairs are typically more abundant along the lower sides of the veins. Along the rachis and lateral branches of each panicle are clusters of flowers on slender white pedicels. These pedicels are 0.5-1-inch long. Each flower is consisting of 5 white sepals, 5 white petals, 5 stamens, and a pistil. The sepals are triangular-ovate and folded inward, while the petals are widely spreading. The petals have long narrow bases and widened tips; the lateral edges of these tips are folded upward. There is a pleasant floral fragrance. Afterwards, the flowers are replaced by 3-lobed seed capsules up to 0.25 inch across. At maturity, these capsules become dark brown or black, and they split open to mechanically eject their seeds up to several feet. Each capsule contains 3 seeds that are 2-3 mm. in length, brown to dark brown, glossy, and ovoid in shape. The root system consists of a stout taproot. The plant’s root is large with a red or brownish bark and body of dark red color. This root is tough, taste bitter and astringent with no odour. Fracture hard, tough, and splintering. Its bark is brittle, dark-coloured and thin.

The dried leaves of this nitrogen-fixing shrub make an excellent tea that was very popular during the Revolutionary War period. A green dye is obtained from the flowers. A cinnamon coloured dye is obtained from the whole plant. A red dye is obtained from the root. In Canada, it is used to dye wool a cinnamon color. 

How to use:   

Decoctions are suitable for roots, barks, large seeds & berries, and other dense material. The simple way to make decoction is, in a saucepan, add 1 tablespoon of dried herbs to 1 cup of water. Bring the water to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30-60 minutes. Strain and squeeze out as much as liquid as possible and enjoy!


  • You can sweeten your herbal decoctions with a bit of honey, natural fruit juice, stevia leaves powder and or licorice root powder. 


You should consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner before using any herbal products, particularly if you are pregnant, nursing, or on any medications.

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This information has not been evaluated by Health Canada.

This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.