Signs of the Season: How to make pine needle tea
By Shane Gibson, Environmental Education Director
Foraging for wild edibles is one of the few ways I have been able to get my youngest son to eat greens. We enjoy nibbling on violets and dandelions. We’ll make sumac lemonade and spicebush tea. But our family favorite is making pine needle tea. There is something novel and rewarding about preparing food from a garden or from the wild.
American Indians have used pine needle tea for its healing properties. Pioneers reportedly drank pine needle tea after a long boat ride to replenish their vitamin C. Pine needle tea has 4-5 times more vitamin C than orange juice or a lemon. It is also a good source of vitamin A and is an expectorant (thins mucous). And it is simple to make. White pine is usually what I use for tea.
*Always verify and positively identify any wild edible prior to consumption. Many wild plants pose danger if ingested. Some pines, like lodgepole, ponderosa, and common yew, are toxic.
Step 1: Identify your pine! A white pine has a cluster of five needles.
Step 2: Collect a handful of needles.
Step 3: Cut needles to a smaller size. (I often just place the needles in the water whole.)
Step 4: Add to water and bring to a boil.
Step 5: Remove from heat and steep for 10-20 minutes.
Step 6: Strain
Step 7: Enjoy!
Making pine needle tea is a simple way to enjoy a wild edible and its health benefits. From your backyard, neighborhood, or school yard, pines suitable for making tea are easy to find.
Enjoy Yourself, Enjoy Nature