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How to make Pine needle Tea and why is it good for you

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Pine needle tea known for its high content of vitamin C and antioxidants can elevate your mood and contribute to winter wellbeing. Made of fresh pine needles, pine tea has a pleasant citrusy flavor and warms the soul during long and cold winter.

pine needle tea benefits
tasty pine needle tea

Pine needle tea recipe has a long history of uses that dates back to the 16 century when an illness known as scurvy was a common illness among sailors.  They spent a long period of time on ships without proper food and vitamin C.  I found a couple of historical resources that talk about using pine needle tea and bark to treat scurvy. The earliest one is from 1536 which was written by Jacques Cartier whose crew suffered from a disease called “scorbu” (scurvy). Back that time they obtained a decoction from the Iroquois made of needles and bark from evergreen conifer later identified as “Annedda”. This tree became known as the “tree of life” or “arbre de vie” because of its remarkable curative effects.

pine needle tea vitamin C

Pine needles are known for their high content of Vitamin C.

The content of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) varies significantly depending on the species and age of the needles.

While the young needles contain at least vitamin C, the two years old pine needles have almost twice as much (3.5 times more than orange) (1)

Older needles on the other hand are stronger and bitter when made into tea so if you prefer mild and delicate tea go for young brighter pine needles.

Vitamin C is a water-soluble and temperature-sensitive vitamin, so is easily degraded during cooking, especially  long cooking times. (2) With boiling pine needles also release  more terpenes that makes more pine smell like tea. 

Another thing that is good to know is that concentration of vitamin C is the highest in the winter, peaking in February (3)

White pine tea (which pine needles are edible)

Pine trees from the Pinaceae family are edible and easy to find all year long. The best way to identify pine trees is to look at their needles. Their needles are not flat, you can roll them between your fingers. They also occur in clusters of 2- 5 that are called fascicles and are known for their strong aroma. 

pine needle tea vitamin c
pine needle tea is packed with vitamin C

Dangers

When you go foraging for pine needles search for a local species and research them to avoid harvesting any toxic yew. That has flat needles with a white color on the underside.  If you’re not sure, this guide to identifying pine and other conifers should help you out.

Also there has been some studies claiming potential dangers of Ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) as well as Lodgepole Pine (Pinus contorta). These might possibly cause abortion when eaten by pregnant cattle but it’s unclear wheather it has any effect on humans. Better to avoid it if you are pregnant.

pine tea elevate the mood

White pine tree

There are several species of pine that make a tasty tea but the most famous is Eastern white pine (Pinus strobus) that makes the best flavor of pine tea.

Native to North America white pine tree is the only pine tree that bears five needles to a bundle, whereas yellow pine needle bundles only have two or three needles.

This fast-growing evergreen has long blue-green needles rather than purer green of some other pines

Their needles have a raw of stomata that appears as a thin line on the underside of the needle.

how to make pine needle tea
how to make pine needle tea

pine needle tea benefits

Its high content of vitamin C is important in building your immune system.

This study confirms high content of antioxidants that may inhibit leukemia cell growth.

Indigenous people used spruce tip tea or pine needle tea as an expectorants to ease cough and relieve congested chest.

Beside high content of vitamin C, pine needles are also rich in vitamin A that is great for eyesight and important for bone health. Is is also beneficial for healthy skin and hair. Vitamin A is fat soluble vitamin so it requires a little fat to access it. I spoon of whole milk or cream should works.

Pine needle tea contains antioxidants that help to limit oxidative stress caused by exercise. It is therefore recommended to sip pine tea after workout. 

This study suggest that drinking pine tea elevate mood and result in  antidepressant effect

According to Health smell of evergreen trees have positive effect on the human body and contributes to joy and wellbeing. 

which pine needles are edible
which pine needles are edible

how to make pine needle tea

First step

Once you find pine needles in your neighbourhood, select needles that are young and tasty. Depending on how strong the tea you like, I use 1/2 cup of fresh needles for 700 ml (23 oz) of tea. 

Second step

You can leave them whole or chop them into 2-3 cm (1 inch) to increase their surface and help to extract more flavors

cutting pine needles
cutting pine needles

Third step

Place the pine needles in a tea strainer and place it in a mug. 

Fourth step

Pour boiled water into the mug, over the pine needles. 

Fifth step

Keep the mug covered allowing it to steep

Sixth step

After 5-10 minutes remove the strainer from the mug. 

Seventh step

Add honey or other sweeteners to taste

adding honey to taste the tea
adding honey to taste the tea

Cold maceration method

Remember vitamin C is heat sensitive so we don’t want to expose it to heat

This cold maceration allows you to keep all Vitamin C.

  • Fill the jar with cut needles half full
  • Pour pre boiled water that is already cooled to the room temperature
  • Squeze half of the lemon into the jar
  • Let it macerate for 30 minutes then strain.
  • Serve it 3 times a day as ice -tea and store it in the refrigerator. This drink strengthens your immune system and helps to ease the cough.

Pine needle tea as a bath

Pine needle bath helps your feet to relax after long stressful day. Moreover, pine possesses antimicrobial properties that help to kill any germs. Just simply fill a bucket with warm pine tea and let your feet relax. This effective feet spa can be accelerated by a teaspoon of vinegar.

Learn other ways and tips how to eat pine trees

what does pine needle tea taste like

The taste very much differs. It depends on the type of pine tree, age of needles, its quantity, and also the time how long you simmer the tea. You can adjust its taste, but for me, it has a piney citrusy taste, it is not bitter or very strong, I would call it mild in taste and color.  
Some people like to add honey, lemon, or milk to taste. You can also adjust its taste with spices such as cinnamon, cardamon, anise or ginger. 

where to buy pine needle tea?

I prefer pine needle tea made of fresh pine needles however if you have no access to the fresh you can always buy dried pine needles to make this powerful drink

Other recipes with pine needles

Pine needle oil

Warming brown sugar body scrub for glowing skin

DIY whipped body butter for winter skincare

Yield: 1 cup

How to make Pine needle Tea and why is it good for you

pine needle tea benefits

Pine needle tea known for its high content of vitamin C and antioxidants can elevate your mood and contribute to winter wellbeing.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Additional Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons fresh pine needles
  • 1 cup water
  • honey, lemon or milk to taste

Instructions

  1. select fresh pine needles that are tasty and remove them from pine branches.
  2. Rinse them in lukewarm water
  3. you can leave them whole or use scissors to chop them into 2-3 cm (1 inch) to increase their surface and to extract more flavors
  4. Place the pine needles in a tea strainer and place it in a mug. 
  5. Pour boiled water into the mug, over the pine needles. 
  6. Keep the mug covered allowing it to steep
  7. After 5-10 minutes remove the strainer from the mug. 
  8. Add honey or other sweeteners to taste

Notes

Hot water destroys some of the Vitamin C. You can use the cold maceration method to keep all the Vitamin C. Fill the jar with cut needles half full. Poured pre-boiled water that is already cooled to room temperature, Squeeze half of the lemon into the jar. Let it macerate for 30 minutes then strain.

Serve it 3 times a day as ice -tea and store it in the refrigerator. This drink strengthens your immune system and helps to ease the cough.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

1

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 213Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 20mgSodium: 139mgCarbohydrates: 37gFiber: 2gSugar: 19gProtein: 10g

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making pine tea
Vladka Merva on February 13th, 2021

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