It’s been a tough winter here in New England and for someone who likes to forage, it’s hard to look outside and see all this snow. There are signs that spring is coming. The days are getting longer and the temperature is slowly rising and melting some of the snow. I decided to go for a hike and try my hand at making some white pine needle tea to get me geared up for the spring foraging season.
What is White Pine Needle Tea?
White pine needle tea is made from the white pine tree. The Native Americans used to make this tea. It is high in vitamins A and C. It is said that drinking the tea is good for a cough or congestion. White pine grows quite prolific throughout the northeast. Just about any hike I go on I find white pine. White pine needles can be taken from either a juvenile tree or an adult tree. The younger trees may be easier to get to since the needles are readily available. The best way to identify them are by looking at the needles. The grow in clusters of five. They often droop like very slender fingers.
Making The Tea
You don’t need a lot of needles to make a cup of tea. I just snipped of a small branch and brought it home. I gave it a quick wash. Here is my recipe:
- 2 tablespoons of chopped up white pine needles
- Place them in a pestle and mortar and lightly bruise
- Spoon the needles into a tea ball (if you don’t have one just place the needles in a cup)
- Boil some water and pour into the cup
- Let it steep for about 5 minutes
- You can add some honey or sugar if you want (I did not.)
Check out my foraging page for my past foraging posts and books to help you properly identify foods.
To properly identify the wild edibles I found in this post, I used this book:
Edible Wild Plants: A North American Field Guide
Edible Wild Plants: A North American Field Guide has all the plants conveniently organized by season, enthusiasts will find it very simple to locate and identify their desired ingredients. Each entry includes images, plus facts on the plant’s habitat, physical properties, harvesting, preparation, and poisonous look-alikes. The introduction contains tempting recipes and there’s a quick-reference seasonal key for each plant.
The North American Field Guide is available from these retailers:
The tea was quite enjoyable. It has a mild flavor and was very refreshing. I am sure if you steeped it longer it would be a lot stronger. So next time you go out in nature, look for some white pine needles and make some tea!
**Please make sure you properly identify the needles before trying to attempt to drink the tea.
Have you tried some white pine tea?