Nature Connection Challenge - Day 40
For today’s challenge, you will need to locate Eastern Hemlock, a coniferous tree (a tree that has cones and keeps its green leaves, or needles, in winter). Once you have located an Easter Hemlock, snip a couple twigs to make tea. Be sure to thank the tree and only take what you need.
Eastern Hemlock has short flat needles, approximately a half-inch in length, with a white underside. The cones are small, about 3/4 inch long. The twigs are not pitchy (no sticky pitch) and are rather fine and limber. The closest lookalike to the Easter Hemlock is the Balsam Fir, which has longer needles and much larger cones. Both trees (as well as most conifer tress, like pines and spruce) are used for tea, so if you aren’t sure which you have found, you can still make tea!*
For one cup of tea, you will only need about 2 teaspoons of needles. For a pot of tea, you can cut of a 4-5 three-inch twigs. Boil water then add needles/twigs and let steep for 10 minutes. You may wish to chop or grind up the needles and or twigs before adding to the water to help release the flavor and nutrients (it is high in vitamin C!). The tea can taste a bit bitter, so you may wish to add honey.
*Always be sure you have correctly identified a plant before consuming. The use of tree and plant identification books is recommended. It’s often advised to try a small amount when eating/drinking wild edibles, as reactions/allergies can occur as with any food. Proceed at your own risk.