Pine needle tea is a brew that has been widely used in many cultures for respiratory ailments. And this is not unwarranted. Pine needle tea has expectorant properties that can alleviate congestion and soothe a sore throat. Not only that, but this drink contains vitamin C (more than a cup of orange juice), vitamin A, and provides antioxidants that can help combat free radicals in the body.
The best thing about this is the availability. Pines can be found in any part of the country, and taking a few steps to identify the trees to use is a relatively simple process. In my research, eastern white pines are the preferred for making tea. Pine needles grow in bundles, called fascicles, sprouting from the limb, clustered in a bundle of 2-5 needles per attachment. Eastern white pines are in bundles of five needles. Supposedly you can derive the most health benefits from this particular species.
That is not to say that other pines are not usable in creating this beverage either. I’ve been using needles from loblolly pines growing around the farm. Loblolly Pine is one of the most common pines in the U.S., and especially in southeastern Georgia. Short leaf, loblolly, slash and longleaf pine work fine for a piney beverage. Loblolly has fascicles containing bunches of 2-3 needles around 8″ in length
I would also only harvest from pines that are not near roads or possible pollutant ridden areas. I’m grateful to work on a farm in a rural area for this. Wherever you are, just be mindful of your surroundings, and always wash whatever you bring back with you. And when you do go to collect, take the green needles that grow at the end of the branch. These will be the most nutrient dense to work with.
A quick search on Amazon will take all of the guesswork out of it as well!
Health disclaimer: Do NOT consume if pregnant or nursing. Also, do NOT consume if you have any kind of pine allergies. Over consumption could lead to nausea and vomiting.
If you do want to harvest your own needles to brew with, then learning to identify pines from other evergreens is an essential skill to attain. Evergreens such as yew are toxic to ingest. Here is a good source of information for identifying different pines, also here.
There is some consensus on pine needle tea being useful in other areas as well. According to the World Council for Health, a public non-profit composed of medical professionals, this could also be beneficial in alleviating symptoms of long Covid. If this is an issue that you would like to know more about, this is the detox guide posted on their site.
Pine Needle Tea Recipe
1 bunch of green needles
1-2 cups distilled water
A handful of fresh green needles should make plenty for a cup.
Taking your green needles, remove the fascicle that attaches the needles to the branch. I generally just remove by cutting with a knife. Cut off any brown ends as well, go for just the green bits.
Wash the needles thoroughly to remove any foreign material.
Dice your freshly washed needles in ½” pieces and put into a small saucepan, around 1-2 Tbsp.
Take the distilled water and dispense into whatever kettle you use for heating water. Bring that to a boil. Pour the boiling liquid into the saucepan and cover to allow the needles to steep for about 20-30 minutes. You can also boil with the needles in the water, but this can lead to a more bitter taste.
You can tell when the needles have leached what they can into the water when the needles lose their vibrancy and settle on the bottom of the saucepan.
Using whatever method works for you, remove the needles from the tea. I’ll just pour it back and forth from cup to pot, while removing needles, until I only have liquid in the cup.
If this is your first time, it is a good idea to only drink around half a cup to see how your body takes to it.
Pine needle tea has a distinct taste, there is certainly a tanginess that hits a light sour note on the palate. It reminds me of citrus-like kinds of beverages. It can leave a tingle in the mouth and throat. This is, of course, accompanied by a pine tree aroma, but the consumption is a pleasant experience for me.
I hope this has been worth your time and is beneficial toward your own health goals. Thank you for reading!