Have you ever thought about drinking pine needles? Probably not. But pine needle tea is made from real pine trees and has been around for ages. Pine needles are rich in vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin A, an antioxidant beta-carotene, thiamin, riboflavin.
The tea has a long history of relieving arthritis pain, muscle aches, and soreness. Centuries ago pine needles were even put in mattresses to aid in rheumatic ailments. It’s also been known for its acute remedial qualities for bronchitis, especially effective in thick mucus producing congestion and respiratory infections. Painful throat irritation is also reduced at the ingesting of a slow warm tea.
Pine needle tea has been a traditional wild food that includes benefits due to its aromatic oils and vitamin C content. The history of drinking pine needle tea dates back to when some 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 and hold to the belief that in one cup it brings five times as much vitamin C as you would find in one cup of orange juice. I personally drink it as well. I enjoy the taste and the added nutrients the tea provides.
Gathering the needles for the tea is relatively simple. Just make sure you get them off the tree while they’re alive and not when they have fallen to the ground. But, a few words of caution: while there are over 100 different varieties of pine, the Ponderosa, Norfolk Island and Yew needles should be avoided, as brewing can prove toxic. Also common sense rules, and collect your needles from trees from a clean source to be sure they haven’t been exposed to exhaust, chemicals, or close to dump sites. Women who are pregnant or in the child bearing years, should avoid pine needle tea as it has been linked by some sources to miscarriage.
The more fresh and alive they are, the better. To brew, put about 1/3 of a cup of needles into a cup of hot water, cover, and steep for about 15-20 minutes. Then sweeten with honey taste if you desire. Even though pine needles are naturally sweet, they often aren’t sweet enough for our finicky tea pallets.
Overall benefits include increased strength and energy and is said to reverse or slow the aging process. Even though it might not do all of that for you, it is very beneficial in getting over a cold faster. For maximum effect, the recommendation is to drink several cups a day, making it fresh each time.
This would be a great tea to drink during this season. Not just because the pine tree is associated with Christmas, but because these holiday months tend to be the most stressful and germ contagious months of the year.
If there’s a shortage of pine trees in your area, you can always purchase the tea in bagged powdered form at health food stores or online.