According to the Manataka American Indian Council, pine needle tea is a centuries-old healing remedy for Native Americans. When European settlers came to the continent and were suffering from scurvy due to lack of vitamin C, the Native Americans introduced them to pine needle tea. Today, Native Americans still drink pine needle tea to treat coughs and colds.
Pine needles are probably not the first thing you think of when you hear the word tea. But its been around for ages. The tea has a pleasant smell and taste.
Pine needles are rich in Vitamin C and also bring relief to conditions such as
- heart disease
- varicose veins
- kidney aliments
- improve eyesight
- mental clarity
- increases your strength and vitality
- helps in reversing or slowing the aging process. Pine needle tea was used by Taoist priests to promote longevity
This is the perfect tea to drink during the winter months. The type of tree ideal for pine tea is the White Pine.
The smaller needles tend to be sweeter but its not that much of a difference. You need to wash the needles thoroughly before making the tea. Run water over them until they are clean then put the needles in a tea pot.
The amount of vitamin C is reported to be five times the amount found in a lemon, which is 83.2 mg, according to NutritionData web site. That means a cup of pine needles would yield more than 400 mg per cup of brew. Vitamin C is an antioxidant and an immune system booster. It also improves cardiovascular system functions, improves skin and eye health, which alone accounts for many of the positive results from using the tea, such as a cure for scurvy.
Pine needle tea is high in fat-soluble vitamin A, an antioxidant beta-carotene, which is needed for healthy vision (especially in low light situations), skin and hair regeneration, and red blood cell production! The vitamin A explains a few more of the nutrition and health claims, but certainly not all of them. There is more to the tea than just vitamins A and C. There are many components to consider with swallowing a cup of pine needle broth!
Scientists are exploring the health and nutrition claims for pine tree foods that have been consumed for hundreds of years, such as the needles, bark, nuts (seeds), pollen, and resin (sap). So far, they have found enough information to back up the medicinal claims with the potential for more uses. The following list is only a sampling of the research being examined.
Documents contained by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, section PubMed.gov., pertaining to pine needle extract, or tea, and the research being done:
- Chemical composition of essential oils from needles and twigs of balkan pine (Pinus peuce grisebach) grown in Northern Greece. An investigation finds many components in the oil extracted from twigs and needles.
- Comparison of methods for proanthocyanidin extraction from pine (densiflora) needles and biological activities of the extract. Proanthocyanidins are flavonoids with fantastic properties: antioxidant, antidepressant, antibacterial, antiviral, antitumor, anti-inflammatory, immune system-boosting, cardiovascular-protecting, triglyceride-reducing, and more. This report may confirm all the claims that pine needle tea can help ease, if not cure, most anything.
- Flavor compounds of pine sprout tea and pine needle tea. A report found 55 flavor compounds in pine sprout tea, and 29 flavor compounds in pine needle tea.
- Plasma triglyceride-decreasing components of pine needles. Components extracted from pine needles using a vinegar solution are believed to reduce triglycerides.
- Effect of new polyprenol drug ropren on anxiety-depressive-like behavior in rats with experimental Alzheimer disease. An extract from spruce and pine needles has potential as a treatment for depression, anxiety, and dementia.
- Efficacy of anise oil, dwarf-pine oil, and chamomile oil against thymidine-kinase-positive and thymidine-kinase-negative herpesviruses. The three essential oils listed were highly effective against herpesviruses!
- Antioxidant, antimutagenic, and antitumor effects of pine needles (Pinus desiflora) This study found that pine needle extract could potentially be used for cancer prevention!
- Documents contained by J-Stage (Japan Science and Technology Information Aggregator, Electronic)
- Effects of Pine Needle Extract on Differentiation of 3T3-L1 Preadipocytes and Obesity in High-Fat Diet Fed Rats. Pine needle extract could help control obesity.
- Article from the Kennebec Journal: Maine Today Media White pine needles help fight disease. A batch of pine needle tea yields shikimic acid which is the basis for “Tamiflu,” one of the drugs recommended by the CDC to fight the flu.
Don’t pick poisonous pines!
Most conifers are safe to experiment with tea preparations, but there are three you must avoid! They may be used by the pharmaceutical industry to create safe levels of extracts for drug manufacturing, but individual brewing could be hazardous.
Caution: Women who are pregnant, or who could become pregnant, are advised NOT to drink pine needle tea in general for fear it could cause abortion.
This beauty grows from a shrub to small tree. It contains a toxic alkaloid called taxine that is highly toxic to humans and animals!Additional plant info: USDA, or PlantFilesPhoto info: Wiki Commons; click to see larger original image.
|Caution on the following pine trees!|
|Norfolk Island Pine (Araucana heterophylla), Australian Pine
The same frilly, pretty, little tree sold as an indoor Christmas tree is poisonous to many house pets such as: cats, dogs, and birds.Additional plant info: PlantFiles Photo info: Wiki Commons; click to see larger original image.
| Ponderosa Pine (Pinus ponderosa), yellow pine
The twigs and needles of the ponderosa pine will abort a fetus in cattle and other farm animals, and is regarded as unsafe for human consumption, too.Additional plant info: USDA or PlantFiles Photo info: Wiki Commons; click to see larger original image.
How To Prepare Pine Tea
|The perfect cup of pine needle tea is a very enjoyable and nutritious experience, and available any time of the year. Some like the taste of one pine over another, and some of us cannot tell the difference between them. Be sure to collect your needles from trees growing well away from road sides where they may be subject to constant vehicle exhaust, road salts, maintenance chemicals and weed sprays. Also, keep away from possible dump sites and dangerous locations.|
It is amazing what a simple cup of tea can hold. You can add a couple of cups of pine needle tea to your bath water for a refreshing and skin nourishing treat. We should all start our day with a nice cup of pine needle tea! You can step outside and gather a handful, or buy the prepared pine needle tea bags at a health food stores. Just one cup could help us feel better by enriching and healing our bodies with a little hug from Mother Nature.
Here’s to our improved health! Bottoms up!
Pine Needle Teas ~ Winter Survival Food: Winter Teas by Edible Wild Food
Conifers (Pinus strobus and Pinus resinosa in particular) provide year round goodness that includes 136mg of vitamin C per one cup of pine needles. Pine needles also contain vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, and sodium. If this isn’t enough, they also contain polyprenols, physterols and carotenoids and this makes pine tea a potent antioxidant health brew. The white pine (eastern and western) is so nutrient-rich it truly is a hard act to follow in the winter months for nutrients.
The most common spruce trees are the White Spruce (Picea glauca) and the Black Spruce (Picea mariana) and the needles, pitch, tips and twigs all can be used to make an herbal tea (and spruce beer too). This tea however should be avoided if you are pregnant. Spruce has vitamin C, beta carotene, starch, and sugars.
Balsam Fir Tea
Balsam fir needles and twigs make a tea and like most trees mentioned in this blog, can be dried and ground into flour. Making a paste with this and water is survival food that will keep you alive. Balsam fir has vitamins C, B1, B2, B3, calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, beta carotene, protein and fibre.
Small twigs and bark from the birch tree makes a tea, although not exciting in flavour (rather bland), it does provide some nutrients. Vitamins B1, B2, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese and zinc is found in most birch trees. They appear in higher quantities in the syrup (can be tapped like a maple tree in the spring). White birch trees also contain betulinol, glycosides, flavonoids, saponins, sesquiterpenes, and tannins.
Chaga grows on birch trees; this is the healing process of a damaged birch tree. Chaga is typically found on older birch trees and generally on the east or west side of the tree.
The birch tree also contains a natural sweetener called xylitol. Xylitol was discovered by the Finnish and they began processing the inner bark to make toothpastes and mouthwashes. This is the main sweetener found in natural gums purchased in health food stores worldwide. Some research indicates that xylitol kills bacteria and reduces cavities.
Beech Tree Tea
The American Beech tree (Fagus grandifolia) grows in many areas and the twigs can be used to make tea. I’ve not been able to confirm the nutrient content of this tree however extract of the Beech tree is known to promote cell health.
Tamarack (Larix laricina) is a member of the pine family and it is the only coniferous tree that loses its pine needles in the autumn. The bark is generally used to make tea and is said to be best in the autumn after the needles have fallen off or in the spring. Small branches can be used as well. The Tamarack contains vitamin C.
Most trees also have medicinal qualities as well as nutrition. For example, the Tamarack is an anti-inflammatory, an astringent, disinfectant, diuretic, expectorant, immune stimulant, a laxative, and a tonic.
There are many other trees not mentioned here that hold a surprisingly high content of nutrition that can be enjoyed often or as survival food. For the forager, it makes life a little bit more challenging obtaining a harvest to bring home, but it can be done. This is reassuring news for the preppers as well knowing that trees not only can provide shelter and fire, they will nourish the body as well.