Making Pine Needle Tea
Whenever my kids and I take a walk in the woods, especially in the winter, we almost always want to collect some evergreen needles to bring home for tea. Eastern White Pine is our favorite and makes a fragrant, woodsy tea that is full of vitamin C, so it's wonderful to have during illness or to support overall health anytime.
The white pine (pinus strobus) is easy to recognize with it's long (approximately 3 to 5 inch) needles in clusters, or fascicles, of five. Young trees have smooth, greenish-gray bark and mature trees have rough, chunky grayish-brown bark with irregular vertical cracks. Cones are 3 to 6 inches long.
To make this tea, you will need a large handful of fresh white pine needles from the tree (not the ground). It's perfectly fine to include some of the twig the needles are attached to as well. Cut or chop the twig and needles into one to two inch pieces (it should equal about 1/3 to 1/2 cup). Place the needles and twigs into a tea kettle or pot and cover with about 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil at high heat, then reduce heat to simmer for approximately 5 minutes. If using a pot, cover it.
After removing from the heat, you may wish to let the tea steep for 5 or 10 minutes. Then, pour the tea through a strainer. Add honey if you wish, and enjoy! If you have tea leftover, store it in the refrigerator to reheat later or drink cold. This makes about 2 cups of tea. For a pot of tea, just double the amount of needles. Of course, this is all approximate and can be adjusted as preferred.
I always make sure to mindfully harvest and thank the tree for this gift when I harvest its needles. Sometimes my kids and I even give the tree a hug. It is so beautiful to connect with the tree, nature, and ultimately ourselves in this way.