A wholesome and tasty beverage may be as close as your own back yard, waiting to be discovered. (or your neighbourhood pine needle tea supplier)

Introducing the pine needle tea – a healthy and delicious tea made from the pine needles. It has up to five times the amount of Vitamin C found in lemons and limes. Pine needle tea has been a medicinal favorite of indigenous peoples in North America, and may also have helped European settlers recover from scurvy. It is also very high in fat-soluble Vitamin A – an antioxidant essential for healthy vision, skin and curly hair regeneration and red blood cell production. Additionally, pine tea can be used just as one antiseptic wash when cooled. Different kinds of pine have their own flavour, so some drinkers mix and match to get to the taste they like best. However, one must be careful not to use poisonous conifers such as the common yew or juniper – in general, most true pines are safe. Pine trees with long needles in clumps of two or five are also safe to use to make tea. Visit http://www.pinetea.ca/ for more information.

Well-known foragers, herbalists, and healers all agree that there is a lot of nourishment and medicine in a cup of pine needle tea. For example, in his book Stalking the Healthful Herbs, naturalist Euell Gibbons said of pine needle tea, “With a squeeze of lemon and a little sugar it was almost enjoyable, and it gives a great feeling of virtue to know that as you drink it you are fortifying your body with two essential vitamins in which most modern diets are deficient.”

To make pine needle tea, simply collect a couple of young green needles. Remove the brown sheaths in the base, wash the needles extensively, and chop them into small components of about a quarter- to half-inch long. Then, heat some tap water to near boiling and pour it on a small handful of needles, and give it time to steep, covered, for a few minutes. Once the tea is ready, most of the needles would’ve sunk to the bottom of the cup, and the water should be slightly coloured.

For a more flavourful and medicinal tea, bring a small pot of water to a full boil and add a few pinches of chopped needles. Then, cover the pot and allow the needles to boil for an additional 2-3 minutes. Serve hot or let it chill. This method allows more of the flavours of the pine tea to seep into the tea, making for a richer and more aromatic taste. However, in the process of the boiling and due to the denaturing of the proteins, the tea will lose some of its vitamin content.