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What Does Sarsaparilla Taste Like? Exploring the Flavor

Are you curious about sarsaparilla but don’t know what it tastes like? You’re not alone.

From its origins to the different flavors this beverage offers, this article dives deep into the world of sarsaparilla to answer your questions.

Let’s discover the unique taste of this classic drink together.

What is Sarsaparilla?

Sarsaparilla, also known as sweet sarsaparilla or wild sarsaparilla, is a type of vine native to North America.

It has thick, rope-like stems and bright red leaves that grow as a groundcover in shady or moist areas.

Sarsaparilla grows in hardiness zones three through seven and produces small yellow flowers in the late summer.

The roots are the most commonly used part of sarsaparilla and have a long history of medicinal use.

The root of the plant has been used for centuries to make sweet syrups and teas; some have even claimed it has health benefits such as aiding digestion, relieving inflammation and reducing fevers.

In addition to its medicinal properties, sarsaparilla’s flavor has sparked quite a bit of curiosity.

But before we go into the flavor profile of sarsaparilla, let’s first take a look at its history and where it comes from: Sarsaparilla is native to North America but is now thought to be extinct across much of its range due to deforestation and other environmental disturbances.

The species can still be found in abundance in Mexico and some South American countries like Brazil.

It’s also found sporadically in nature reserves across the United States and Europe, making it one of nature’s rare finds for those who are lucky enough to spot it growing in the wild or on a preserved farmland or ranch land.

Its popularity has grown considerably over recent years as both herbalists and bartenders seek out its unique flavor for use in beverages or health-promoting teas.

What Does Sarsaparilla Taste Like?

Sarsaparilla is a plant-based, root beer-flavored drink made from the roots of a variety of plants.

It has now been adapted and flavored to create an all-natural beverage with a sweet, dark flavor profile.

Many people may remember sarsaparilla from its use as an old-fashioned refreshment which can now be enjoyed in an easy to consume beverage.

The traditional recipe for sarsaparilla has long been debated but generally includes the root bark of Smilax ornata or S.

glabra, sassafras root bark or oil, birch bark and wintergreen extract.

Each of these ingredients have unique flavor profiles that combine together to provide a sweet, earthy and aromatic taste that is hard to replicate with other natural sources and some admirers say has no comparable measure in terms of flavor.

Sarsaparilla’s sweet aromas come from the intense sassafras and vanilla notes within each bottle combined with the spice blend for warmth that comes through in its complex flavors.

The rich flavors will finish off with a hint of roasted nuts or cocoa adding another layer to this incredible drink which really lets you know why it’s such a classic favorite amongst root beer lovers around the globe.

Factors that Affect the Taste of Sarsaparilla

The taste of sarsaparilla can vary based on the ingredients that go into making it.

Some owners of brewing companies who specialize in making sarsaparilla look for raw materials for each batch that give their product a unique flavor.

There are multiple factors that play into what makes a particular batch’s flavor profile, including where the ingredients were sourced from, how long it has been brewed, and how the beverage has been stored.

Location A major factor in determining the flavor profile for a particular sarsaparilla is where it has been brewed.

Breweries may opt to use different ingredients if their production is based in different regions.

For example, some southern-style sarsaparillas are much sweeter than northern-style sarsaparillas due to additional flavors extracted from globally-sourced berries and spices found in those regions.

Time Frame Commercially distributed sarsaparrillas typically have anywhere between 15-45 days of fermentation time before they are made available on store shelves or at beverage taps.

The longer a particular sarsparrila is brewed, the more complex its flavor will be; this could potentially mean subtle changes in its sweetness and aromas due to aging and oxidation processes taking place during fermentation.

Storage Conditions The age of an individual batch also depends on where it’s stored prior to its purchase or consumption; light and heat can cause a decrease shelf life so an optimal storage environment should be dark at a cold temperature.

If stored this way, then most batches will have optimum flavors with rich aromas up until their best buy date as noted on labels.

Proper storage also helps with maintaining strong profiles without risking spoilage or decreased enjoyment when consumed over extended periods of time.

1 – Source Plant

Sarsaparilla (Smilax spp.

) is a type of flowering vine that is part of the Smilacaceae family and has edible roots.

It is native to tropical regions of North and South America, as well as many parts of the Caribbean Islands, Africa, Indonesia, and India.

The plant’s root has long been valued for its medicinal properties and used as a flavoring in foods.

In fact, it is the primary flavoring agent in root beer.

Sarsaparilla is known for its distinct flavor profile that includes hints of bitter chocolate, licorice, wintergreen, aniseed and mushrooms.

It isn’t overly sweet or spicy; instead it carries a robust flavor with earthy notes and subtle undertones.

When brewed into a beverage like tea or mixed into cocktails like the classic Shandygaff, this plant also helps to balance out syrups and other sweeteners.

2 – Preparation Method

Sarsaparilla is most often served as a soda, or root beer.

Many root beer manufacturers actually use sarsaparilla as the main ingredient in their drink recipe.

Root beer can be made one of two ways – either from a premade syrup, or from sarsaparilla mixed with natural ingredients like vanilla, anise, wintergreen, and other spices.

The most common way to make sarsaparilla is to brew it in boiling water for about 20 minutes.

In this method, the boiling water extracts the flavor compounds and essential oils present in the herb.

After brewing you simply need to add natural add-ins such as honey or molasses to give the beverage a sweeter taste.

Sarsaparilla can also be consumed in tea form after the same process of boiling 20 minutes and can be combined with other herbs such sweet clover and wild cherry bark for added benefits.

Finally, if you’d like a more sophisticated take on sarsaparilla you can even find it served as an alcoholic beverage at some establishments around the world.

3 – Added Flavors

While some people enjoy the natural flavor of sarsaparilla, many other flavors are commonly added to the beverage.

One of the most popular flavorings added is sugar and spices, although other strong flavors like molasses may also be used to give the drink a more distinctive taste.

Sugary cough syrups and root beer concentrates can be mixed with soda to create a flavorful treat.

Sarsaparilla comes in all different sorts of flavors, from mild to wild, from fruity and flowery tastes to woodsy and root-beer notes There is truly something for everyone.

A few of these popular flavored sarsaparilla drinks include raspberry, peach, watermelon, strawberry lemonade, pineapple-coconut cream, piña colada and spicy ginger beer.

Some sarsaparillas are even given an extra kick by adding a tiny bit of firewater – not enough that your throat would ever burn but just enough to add a bit of warmth – or a special type of yeast that gives an extra special fizziness.

In addition there are ready made varieties already flavored with these additives just waiting for you.

How to Consume Sarsaparilla?

Traditional sarsaparilla is available as a soda and has a taste often described as being similar to root beer.

Depending on the brand, it may contain caramel, anise, licorice or similar flavors.

Some labels may call it sassafras or birch beer because the root extracts used to give them their unique flavors are similar.

It is important to note that authentic sarsaparilla sodas rarely contain real sarsaparilla extract anymore; usually, imitation flavoring is used instead.

This is why some brands have only minor hints of licorice flavor while others don’t taste like sarsaparilla at all.

Apart from sodas, you can also find other versions of this beverage in liquid form.

According to some people, handcrafted varieties of syrups and tinctures made from real sarsaparilla root have more intense aromas and deeper sweet flavors than regular soda pop.

This extract can be mixed into cocktails for an interesting twist on classic drinks as well.

Sarsaparilla tea is another popular way to consume this plant’s root extract for its reputed health benefits including improving digestion and supporting overall well-being—such as providing antioxidants and other essential nutrients like potassium and manganese.

The taste is highly aromatic with a mildly sweet flavor that many describe as being earthy with subtle notes of leather or tobacco.

Finally, you can also buy dried roots or buy ground powder made from them; this will allow you to make your own homemade recipes such as breads wrapped in banana leaves with aromatic spices.

Note that the concentrated powder is quite strong so don’t be too heavy-handed when measuring out the quantities if using it in cooking or baking recipes.

1 – Sarsaparilla Tea

Sarsaparilla tea is often used as a natural remedy for digestive problems.

The taste of sarsaparilla tea is slightly sweet and spicy, with a hint of root-like flavor.

Usually, it has an overall earthy taste that can be compared to the taste of spices such as ginger, cardamom, nutmeg, and cinnamon.

Organic sarsaparilla tea can be enjoyed both hot or cold.

It contains vitamin C and other essential minerals such as potassium and iron that help support the immune system and reduce inflammation.

It also contains polyphenols, which are beneficial compounds found in plants with antioxidant properties.

For this reason, some people use sarsaparilla tea for its health benefits — from relieving anxiety to helping purify the blood.

When buying sarsaparilla tea at your local store or online, you should look for organic versions that come from wildcrafted ingredients in order to get all of the health benefits without any chemicals or additives.

Additionally, it’s best to choose loose leaf varieties instead of bags so you can control the strength of your beverage more easily.

2 – Sarsaparilla Soda

Sarsaparilla soda is a type of carbonated drink made from extracts of the sarsaparilla root.

It has a unique blend of flavors, not too sweet, not overly zesty, but just right – like liquid root beer.

Sarsaparilla soda commonly includes notes of licorice, birch bark, wintergreen, anise and even creamy vanilla.

This flavor combination can make it difficult to describe exactly what sarsaparilla tastes like since it tends to be a mix between aromatic spices and sweet tones.

While some may find it odd or too different from traditional sodas, many people love the taste and count on sarsparilla for an occasional boost in flavor.

Soda companies often use authentic ingredients when making traditional recipes for sarsparilla sodas: things such as roots of prickly ash (sassafras), juniper berries, dried burdock root and licorice root are often used to produce distinctive flavors.

Other exotic spice choices may include nutmeg, clove oil and cinnamon oil to add complexity and consistency across batches.

All of these components are carefully combined in order to give you that perfect sip any time you’re in the mood for something unusual yet still refreshingly tasty.

Is Sarsaparilla Healthy?

Sarsaparilla is a carbonated beverage made from several fruits, herbs and roots.

It is typically enjoyed for its unique flavor as well as its purported health benefits.

But is sarsaparilla really healthy? Let’s find out.

First off, it should be noted that sarsaparilla is not a diet drink; it contains quite a bit of sugar (up to 16g per cup, depending on the brand).

As such, it should be consumed in moderation.

That being said, sarsaparilla does contain several vitamins and minerals that are beneficial to your overall health.

Sarsaparilla contains vitamin A, an important nutrient for immunity and vision.

It’s also high in fiber which can help with digestion, and manganese which has been linked to better bone health.

Additionally, the numerous herbs and roots used to make the drink contain various antioxidants which can aid in combating free radical damage.


Like any other sugary drink, sarsaparilla should probably not be your only source of vitamins and minerals.

However, if you’re looking for something that tastes good and offers some health benefits then this could be a great option for you.

As always though – listen to your body when choosing foods or drinks; if you find yourself feeling bad after drinking it then stop drinking it or cut down the amount you’re consuming.

Where to Buy Sarsaparilla?

If you’re looking for sarsaparilla, it can be hard to find the authentic version — many manufacturers use artificial flavoring in place of the plant’s extract.

With that said, look for specialty sodas or root beer flavors at nab magazine and specialty shops that carry it.

Additionally, you can find sarsaparilla beer from a handful of craft breweries.

However, most commercially available brands contain artificial flavors.

If you’d like to try a more authentic recipe and make your own sarsaparilla drink at home, there are several recipes available online.

Sarsparilla root is available online or at many health food stores and you’ll need a pestle and mortar to grind it into smaller pieces.

You can add sweetener such as honey or white sugar to suit your taste then add carbonated water for a refreshing homemade drink.

Sweeten as desired per glass—it only takes about ¼ teaspoon of sweetener per cup of drink if using white sugar, but feel free to adjust the amount to suit your palate.


Overall, sarsaparilla has a combination of salty, earthy and herbal tones.

It also contains elements of spices such as cinnamon and cardamom.

It’s similar to root beer in that it’s slightly sweet, but not overly sweet like some sodas.

Though its popularity has waned over the years, sarsaparilla still holds a unique place among herbal beverages, providing a unique taste profile that can be appreciated by those who enjoy bold flavor profiles.

Ultimately, this homemade soda can be enjoyed both on its own or as part of mixed drinks and culinary creations.

Whether you’re looking for something unique or seeking an old-fashioned favorite, sarsaparilla is an ideal choice.

What Does Sarsaparilla Taste Like? A Comprehensive Guide

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Taste


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