Stevia Leaves, (stevia rebaudiana), also known as Sweet Leaf, is native to Paraguay and Brazil, where people have used leaves from the stevia bush to sweeten food for hundreds of years. It is now grown throughout the world. In the United States, the FDA has only approved the use of Stevia Leaf as a “dietary supplement”, though commonly used as a sweetener.
Stevia Leaves with the sweetness of 200-300 times that of sugar, a little goes a long way. You can add a bit of dried stevia leaf to your tea while steeping, or you can make it into a powder. To grind into a powder, use a blender, food processor or coffee grinder to process the dried leaves at high speed until for 15-30 seconds or more until it’s a fine enough powder. Store the powdered sweetener in an airtight container. A general rule of thumb is that a pinch to 1/16th teaspoon of powdered stevia equals about 1 teaspoon of sugar. 1/4 teaspoon of powdered stevia equals about 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1 teaspoon of stevia powder equals 1 cup of sugar. Stevia can have a licorice-like aftertaste, and too much can taste bitter.
You can also use dry stevia leaves to make a syrup for sweetening beverages, sauces or other syrups. Add one cup of warm water to one-quarter cup of fresh, finely crushed stevia leaves. Put the mixture in an airtight container and allow it to set for 24 hours before straining the leaves from the mixture.
WARNING: Stevia should be avoided by anyone with an allergy to chrysanthemums, marigolds, ragweed or daisies. As Stevia is a dietary supplement, you should check with your doctor before using, to make sure it won’t have an adverse reaction with blood pressure, diabetic or other medications.