On our last camping trip, a friend introduced us to a fun project–making pine needle tea over the campfire. This is a great project to do with kids, either while camping or at home. Pine needle tea is very high in vitamins A and C.
As always, when foraging or eating wild plants, make sure you have correctly identified the plants you intent to eat. Use a good plant guidebook, consult an expert, and always use common sense. There are three types of pine trees you should NOT use to make tea from: Ponderosa Pine, Norfolk Island Pine, and Yew. Pine needle tea is NOT safe for pregnant women to drink.
If you don’t have access to pine trees, pine needles can be purchased on etsy or from some health food stores. I used White Pine, which can be identified by the groupings of 5 needles in a bunch.
Step One: Cut off the pine needle ends where they attach to the tree branch.
Step Two: Cut the needles in half or into thirds
Step Three: Put about two tablespoons of needles into a cup, and cover with boiling water.
Step Four: Let steep for 20 minutes, strain the needles out, and enjoy your tea. You can sweeten it with honey or sugar, but I like it plain–it has a mild, fresh, green flavor.
- Small bunch of pine needles
- Boiling water
- Cut off the end of pine needles where they attach to the tree branch
- Cut the needles into halves or thirds
- Put about 2 T into a mug, and cover with boiling water
- Let steep for 20 minutes
- Strain out needles and add sweetener, if desired
More facts and uses of pine trees:
–There are approximately 232 species of pine trees, 35 of which are native to North America
–Native Americans and Colonists both used pine for building and furniture, and we continue to do so today
–Pine is a valuable habitat and source of food for forest animals such as chipmunks, squirrels, rabbit and deer
–Pine is a popular type of evergreen tree cut for Christmas trees every year
–England’s Royal Navy used Colonial pine trees for the masts of their ships
–Native Americans used the pine sap to make objects waterproof
–They also used the sap medicinally–it was applied to wounds to help heal or prevent infection
–Pine tar is created by burning parts of the tree in a smothered flame, and is still used medicinally today
–Some tribes of Native Americans pounded the soft white inner bark of the pine tree into flour
–Pine nuts are harvested from the pine cones, are very nutritious, and can be eaten plain, added to a cooked dish, or ground and brewed into coffee
–Pine sap can be used to start fires
Our family loves to be outside and camp, and we usually talk about tree identification when we hike through the woods. I think our boys really enjoyed and remembered talking about pine trees because we made the pine needle tea together.
Are you a hiker or a camper? What outdoor activities do you enjoy?