Pine needle tea is really delicious and it is pretty easy to make, so let’s get right into it!
Gather some pine needles from a green white pine aka Pinus Strobus for instance.
The easiest way to do this is to take a whole branch. Clean it all with fresh water and rub it down with a cloth making sure there is no dirt and bugs. Then pick of the needles off the branch.
Bring the water to a boil, with whatever you like to boil water with. I generally have pine needle tea when I am wild camping in the woodland. So, I have a kettle on a tripod over an open fire usually. Sounds great doesn’t it.
Get your pine needles and put them in a cup, mug, mess tin, or into the kettle itself. Then just leave them in the hot water. The tea is ready when the pine needles start to pale, or simple when the tea is cool enough to drink.
Strain out the needles with a sieve, or when I am away camping, I make sure to only use long needles as this means I can easily remove them with a fork.
For a flavour boost you can add a bit of lemon, honey, or sugar but I don’t usually bother to be honest.
You can also adjust the taste by your choice of needles. Younger needles are softer and sweeter, the older needles are more bitter, but they do have higher concentrations of nutrients like Vitamin C.
The younger needles are found at the tip of the branch, and they will probably look a brighter green than older larger needles that are found further down the branch.
That’s it really, you are now a pine needle tea master.
Cold pine tea is very refreshing also, and if you are at home it is easily prepared. You bring a pan to the boil, put in the pine needles, simmer for 20 minutes. Allow to cool naturally in the pan, then strain the needles.
Then pour into an empty bottle and put a lid on it. Then leave it overnight in the fridge and drink the next day. Again, you can add a bit of sweetness if you require.
If you want pine needle tea all year round you may want to collect and store pine needles so that you have a constant supply. To do this you will have to dry them out and store them in an airtight container.
This is fine and safe to do, however you will need to use more needles than if you were using fresh needles as the drying process does take away some of the flavour and nutrition.
In a short answer, no. Most are safe but ones like Norfolk Island, Ponderosa, and Yew Pine are poisonous.
As with all forms of foraging wild plants for eating and drinking, you need to be super careful and know what you are looking for. Take no risks, if you are not 100% sure then do not consume it.
The age of the pine needles doesn’t really matter, just make sure they are green and fresh. Brown ones are unpleasant tasting, are lacking nutrients, and may make you sick.
If you can’t find suitable pine needles, then fir, jack, or spruce needles work great too, although I prefer the taste of pine needles personally.
My favourite is the white pine needle. I am unsure if I should tell you how to identify it, as I would prefer you did your own research thoroughly and not just follow what I say.
However, I will give you a little guide to identifying the white pine. It has a bundle of 5 needles which are known as fascicles. Meaning, one attachment to the branch will have five needles.
The needles are long and thin. When you lay it in your hand it will look like a bird foot or a fork I guess, but like I said if you are not experienced you need to get a proper foraging book to help you out.
There are many reasons to drink pine needle tea, here are just a few of them:
Pine needle tea has been found to be antibacterial and antifungal. So, if you are out on a trip in a remote location and have an accident, drinking pine needle tea might help the wound from being infected.
This should not stop you from properly cleaning and treating the wound, but the tea might give you a little advantage.
There are high levels of antioxidants in pine needles, they help your body break down and re-purpose free radicals into healthy cells.
If free radicles are allowed to flow around your blood stream, they have been shown to increase your risk of diseases, especially cancer.
Pine needle tea can help clear blocked noses, chestiness, and sore throats. It also helps refresh the mind and clear brain fog. Native Americans were known to use it to expel mucus and phlegm.
This helps get rid of bacteria and pathogens, whilst letting you get on with your daily tasks.
Ethanolic pine needles have been shown to increase energy levels and reduce stress in mice studies, so it has been suggested this could act as a possible natural antidepressant for humans.
Whilst it is not proven, if you do suffer from depression it is well worth looking into. Even if it does not being around trees and nature has been shown to help with depression.
So, the very act of going for a walk in the woodland, harvesting some pine needles, and setting up a fire to boil water could help with depression regardless of the actual properties of the pine needles.
There is evidence drinking pine needle tea may help you live longer, in fact Taoist monks have been drinking it for centuries because of this very same reason.
Even though there are a lot of vitamins and minerals in Pine Needle tea, there are basically zero calories in it, so it is a great option to replace calorie dense drinks like sugary soda, especially if you are on a calorie-controlled diet.
However, this means if you are in an actual emergency survival situation pine needle tea will not help with you trying to hit a caloric daily total.
Making pine needle tea, is a great way to spread a Christmassy smell around the house, which is much better for you than the industrially made air fresheners.
It is a refreshing and satisfying tea that tastes great, even if it had all the health benefits in the world… if it tasted awful then it would be no good.
It has been shown to boost testosterone, which is obviously an important sex and libido hormone but it is also important for hormone balances, muscle mass, fat loss, blood circulation etc.
Pine Needles are an excellent source of the plant version of Vitamin A, it is not as bioavailable as animal products, but it can still be a useful health boost. Vitamin A is great for your eyesight, hair condition, skin health and blood flow.
It surprisingly has over 5 times as much Vitamin C as the equivalent amount of lemon, so drinking pine needle tea can help boost your immune system and fight off colds, flus, viruses, and sickness.
Vitamin C has also been shown to help with conditions such as low energy, heart disease, skin health, and blood circulation.
So, if you are a survivalist, homesteader, and/or prepper and worried about if you have enough sources of Vitamin C to avoid things like scurvy, then pine needles are a great addition to your diet.
The older the needles are the more Vitamin C it will have, so bare that in mind.
There are no real dangers of drinking actual pine needle tea, you can drink a lot of it, and it is unlikely to cause any real issues unless you are allergic to pine.
The only real danger is if you pick a species that is poisonous, mistake another plant as a pine, or do not wash the needles and something on them makes you sick.
This is not the fault of the pine needle tea, so the biggest danger of pine needle tea is human error.
There are some old wives tales of pine needle tea causing abortion. This has never been proven.
The actual amount of pine needles you use, and if you drank in moderation, it is very unlikely to be a problem. If you are pregnant though you are best to go on the side of caution, but that applies to all food and drink.
Basically, the amount of pine needle tea you would need to drink to cause serious issues, you are probably going to get more issues from drinking that large amount of water not from anything in the pine needles.
As well as drinking a lot of pine needle tea, I am a big fan of pine oil (sometimes known as pine nut oil).
It is a concentrated essential oil, so it is best to use with a carrier oil like most essential oils.
You can buy Pine Oil from anywhere you would buy any essential oil, or you can make your own which is harder but more rewarding than buying it.
Here is how to make it yourself:
Collect pine needles that you would collect for pine needle tea, fresh needles that are alive and growing on the branch of a pine tree of a non-poisonous variety.
Wash needles with warm soapy water. To remove any debris, mold, dirt, and disease. Then rinse thoroughly and allow to dry.
In a pestle and mortar grid the needles enough so that they can start releasing their oils. Do not go to town on them, you just want to bruise them not send them to the morgue.
Get a large jar and fill it with sweet almond oil. Add the pine needles and put on the lid. Give it a shake so everything is mixed in and covered.
Store in a warm dark room, with no direct sunlight. After a week give it another shake. After about 2 weeks it should be ready.
You need to sieve the oil to remove particles and needles, so you have a nice smooth and clean oil. Then like any essential oil, pour it into a dark bottle with an airtight lid for storage and use.
Our ancestors seemed to know more about health than we do nowadays, they knew how to make nature work in their favour. They knew the healing powers of plants.
Yes, the modern-day health system is great at surgeries, but it is over reliant on pharmaceutical drugs for everything else. If I ever have an issue, I will go to nature first.
Pine needle tea has been used centuries by many indigenous people, these people aren’t daft they know what works and what doesn’t.
So, if they are drinking pine needle tea for certain health benefits, then I will trust in that. It doesn’t mean I will avoid modern doctors altogether; it just means I will try to resolve issues myself first.