Do you love the benefits of tea but keep forgetting to stock your pantry? Never fear; you can make a healthy, tasty tea without much trouble or cost as long as you have access to the main ingredient: pine needles.
That’s right, you may have heard about pine needle tea before, but have you ever tried it? Believe it or not, it’s not just a last-ditch-effort for survivalists in need of nutrients. Pine needle tea is great for everyone, and all you need to do is go locate a tree in your back yard or nearby forest.
The basics of pine needle tea
Before you go out ans start brewing your own pine needle tea, it is important to remember not all species of pine are safe for consumption, and there are also plants that mimic pine and are really not. Before you venture out to harvest pine needles for your drinking pleasure, be sure to know what types of pine trees are in your area and how to identify them.
The most commonly used pine for tea is White Pine, a tree easy to recognize by it’s long, soft needles. Until you are familiar with the other safe, medicinal pines in your area, stick to this particular tree to avoid unintentional toxicity issues.
Rural Survival indicates the following tree species should be avoided at all costs:
- Ponderosa Pine (also known as Blackjack, Western Yellow, Yellow, and Bull Pine).
- Lodgepole Pine.
- Common Juniper.
- Monterey Cypress.
- Common Yew.
- Norfolk Pine (Australian Pine).
Again, different areas of the country will have different pine species. Be sure to research the trees in your local area before you use something other than White Pine for tea.
Why pine needle tea is healthy
The primary benefit to pine needle tea is it’s vitamin content. While it was used by the Native Americans as a medicinal treatment for centuries, it was also eventually used by settlers in the New World as a means to ward off the vitamin C deficiency known as scurvy.
According to Natural Health Solutions, pine needle tea has five times the amount of vitamin C found in a single lemon, and the needles are also an excellent source of vitamin A. Common medicinal uses for this tea include:
Relief for symptoms of colds
- Relief from infections.
- Use as an antiseptic when chilled.
- Improvement for fatigue.
- Mental clarity.
How to make pine needle tea
Now that you’ve decided to test out the merits of pine needle tea on your own, you need to know how to go about making it. There are two simple ways to make pine needle tea, and it all depends on just how potent you like your flavor. This tea is actual quite sweet, so play around with these recipes to see which one is best for you.
Both methods require the same gathering process, so the first thing you need to do is go harvest some White Pine needles. Ideally, the younger the needles are the more flavor and nutrients they have, so gather a handful of tender needles if they are available. You can tell young needles by their brighter green color, shorter length, and softer texture.
Once you have your pine needles, chop them into small sections. This will help release the oils and nutrients while the needles boil. There is no need to place the needles in any kind of tea bag; once they have been in the hot water long enough they will sink to the bottom to allow you to drink.
Mild pine needle tea:
To keep the flavor of your pine needle tea light, boil your water first and then pour it into a mug. Add the chopped pine needles after and allow them to steep for 5 to 10 minutes, or until they sink to the bottom of the cup. Drink as is, or pour the liquid into a new container if you are worried about sucking down a rogue needle.
Strong pine needle tea:
Strong pine needle tea, the version most often used medicinally, involves boiling the chopped pine needles in the water for 2-3 minutes and then allowing them to steep for another 5 to 10 minutes. Since this is done in the pan boiling the water, once the tea is ready it can be poured into a mug, leaving most of the needles behind in the bottom of the pot.
Like any other tea, you can add honey or cinnamon to flavor as you like.