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Hike through any evergreen forest filled and breathe in that refreshing pine scent that permeates the air. There is something so natural and cleansing about walking among the fragrant trees as you feel the crunch of needles under your feet. Did you know that these distinctive-smelling trees and their needles can provide benefits beyond their beauty and scent?
Pine needle tea – yes, tea made from pine needles – has a mild, almost sweet taste and is known to have potent healing properties. Learn how to turn what you find on your hike through an evergreen forest into a soothing and healing beverage.
Pine needles are the leaves of pine trees. They contain vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B12, iron, and manganese. They are also a source of protein, dietary fiber, and minerals. Pine needles are commonly found in herbal teas and used as a substitute for Camomile. They have a similar flavor to their aroma – earthy, piney, and somewhat citrusy – but the taste is milder than what you may imagine.
Pine needle tea is beneficial for a number of reasons. From immune boosting and cold prevention to sleep and stress relief, pine needles contain key healing properties to assist with:
Most popular pine trees will be just fine to use for your tea, but there are some that you need to avoid.
Pines are the most notable of evergreen tree types, but fir and spruce trees are also part of the evergreen family. Pines, firs and spruce are frequently mixed up because conifer trees (trees that produce cones) are not always pine trees and some evergreens are not always coniferous. An easy way to identify pine trees is that their needles come in clusters, while those of spruce or fir will be attached individually to the branches.
Each tree's needles offer a unique taste, so try different varieties and discover your favorite tea!
The best way to avoid these toxic pines is to study a field guide and make sure you understand which trees are in your local area.
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are pregnant, do not drink pine needle tea.
First, identify which pine tree you’re gathering needles from by referencing a field guide. Avoid pine trees sprayed or treated with pesticides. The best trees are found in the middle of a dense forest.
Once you’ve identified the pine tree for your tea, gather fresh needles. Forage light green needles: the lighter color means they are younger and will provide more flavor. Dark green needles will be more bitter but may hold more vitamins than younger needles.
Pine needle tea is a very simple tea to make and is prepared the same way as many other herbal teas. The flavor of the tea will be subtle, almost earthy and grassy, with just a hint of pine. Some needles produce a sweeter, citrus flavor. Here’s a simple recipe to use while at home or on the trail:
There are a few things you can do while harvesting pine needles to make sure they are good quality.
Pine needle tea is safe to drink and doesn’t have any major side effects. If you are allergic to pine needles, avoid drinking pine needle tea. If you have any health conditions, consult your doctor before drinking pine needle tea. Always make sure you identify the tree before collecting your pine needles, and avoid toxic varieties.
Pine needle tea is a beverage that is both delicious and healthy. It can help you sleep better, reduce stress, and boost your immune system. The benefits of drinking pine needle tea are numerous, and it's so simple and easy to make. What better way to connect with the forest than by benefiting from what it has to offer? So, gather up some fresh pine needles on your next hike, and make yourself a hot cup of tea for a soothing, healthy way to end your day!
Featured image by: Chamillew.
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