I wish you could smell this photo! I read a bunch of articles this weekend about the health benefits associated with Pine Needle Tea and decided to try it out for myself. Conveniently, I have a Spruce tree right outside my front door so this was quite easy to do. All of the photos in this post are from my own Spruce tree.
Did you know that pine needle tea has medicinal properties and that Native Americans have been using pine needle tea in a variety of healing remedies for centuries?
According to herbalist and educator Kami McBride, drinking a cup of pine needle tea may help your body expel phlegm causing the congestion of colds or coughs. Pine needles are strongly aromatic and even just inhaling the vapors from the tea may break up mucus in the lungs. Pine needles are also reported to be highly antiseptic and may help heal infections in the respiratory and urinary systems (source).
Pine needle tea is rich in Vitamin A, an antioxidant essential for red blood cell production, healthy vision, hair and skin. Pine needle tea is also reported to contain as much as four to five times the amount of Vitamin C found in a lemon or in one glass of orange juice (source).
A word of caution though; there are over 100 different varieties of pine, of which three are toxic and should be avoided: the Ponderosa, the Norfolk Island and Yew.
According to one source, the age of the needles will influence the taste of the tea: young, light green spruce tips will yield a light, slightly lemony flavor, while mature needles harvested during the winter will create a stronger, slightly more bitter tea. Spruce needles are very aromatic and also have antimicrobial and immune stimulating properties.
Brewing Pine (or Spruce) Needle Tea
To prepare the tea, simply cut a twig or two from the branch of a tree, wash it off. Using a sharp knife, cut the needles from the central twig, and then either crush or chop the needles.
Other practices include removing the papery brown sheaths at the base of the needles.
I wouldn’t bother removing the brown sheath from Spruce needles for two reasons: one; Spruce needles are considerably shorter than other varieties of pine needles and the brown papery sheath is only about one millimetre (mm) in length. It would be a tedious task to remove a 1-mm sheath from the ends of every single needle! And two; I could not find an explanation anywhere as to why this step was necessary or beneficial. Removing the papery sheath may make sense for longer pine needles, but it seems a bit unnecessary with Spruce.
Place a tablespoon of the prepared needles in a large mug. Boil a kettle full of water and then pour the boiling water over the crushed needles. Do not boil the needles in water. Let the tea steep for 15 minutes – no need to strain as the needles will eventually fall to the bottom of the cup.
However, for greater medicinal benefits, you may boil a tablespoon of needles in the water for 2-3 minutes in a cup of water (source).
Pine needles can also be frozen, or died using your oven or a dehydrator for use later. To freeze the needles, just cut them off the twig and place in a zip lock bag in the freezer until ready to use. If drying them, use the oven or dehydrator and once done, place them in a jar and use as desired.
So the next time you are suffering with a cold, or even if you are not, try some soothing pine needle tea and let me know what you think!
Seriously, I wish you could smell this!