The needles of pine trees, notably the Eastern white pine (Pinus strobus), are steeped in hot water to make pine needle tea. It can be purchased commercially or created at home using foraged pine needles. While various claims have been made about the health advantages of drinking pine needle tea, additional research is needed.
For thousands of years, indigenous civilizations have considered pine needle tea a vital medical aid. While the official study on the subject is lacking, anecdotal evidence of its advantages is unmistakable. Pine trees are native to the Northern Hemisphere, although they can currently be found in the cold to subtropical climates worldwide. Pine needle tea is popular in the United States and Asia.
What is Pine Needle Tea?
Pine needle tea is a tasty hot beverage produced from the needles of pine trees. The flavor is piney, resinous, astringent, and lemony, with mint overtones. Older pine needles have a more harsh and tannic flavor than younger ones. Honey or sugar can sweeten the tea, and it’s either clear or somewhat green in hue.
White pine needles are harvested and soaked for around 24 hours to make commercial pine needle tea. Afterward, they are rinsed, cleaned, and trimmed to eliminate any sharp tips before being dried in the shade.
The Eastern white pine makes commercial pine needle teas throughout North America. The Korean red pine, also known as Manchurian red pine, is used to make this tea in Korea. In Korea, another type of pine needle tea known as “slip-cha” is created by fermenting pine needles in a sugar and water solution for a week or longer. The liquid is then filtered and served chilled.
How to Drink Pine Needle Tea?
If you buy commercial pine needle tea, it will be made using dried pine needles. However, if you forage yourself, you will use fresh pine needles. Note on foraging: If you’re preparing tea with pine needles, make sure you know what kind of tree you’re getting them from. Some conifers are hazardous, and not all pine trees make good tea. For example, humans are poisoned by the Ponderosa pine, Lodgepole or Shore pine, common juniper, Monterey cypress, common yew, Norfolk Island pine, and Australian pine.
The technique for making pine needle tea is the same whether you use fresh or dried pine needles. You might boil some water in a kettle, remove it from the heat, add the pine needles, and steep for 5 to 20 minutes. Alternatively, pour hot water over the pine needles in a tea infuser or filter or a French press, and steep. Depending on whether you bought or foraged, you may need to clip your pine needles if they are 3 to 4 inches long.
The best ratio appears to be 1/2 cup pine needles to 3 cups water. However, this can vary depending on personal liking. The flavor will get more powerful the longer you steep it. It is not recommended to boil the pine needles because the tea will become murky and bitter.
What is Pine Needle Tea Good for?
Pine needle tea may boost the immune system, improve vision, prevent respiratory infections, stimulate circulation, prevent chronic disease, improve cognitive performance, increase heart health, and hasten recovery. Pine needle tea may boost the immune system, improve vision, prevent respiratory infections, stimulate circulation, prevent chronic disease, improve cognitive performance, increase heart health, and hasten recovery. You must use the correct pine needles since certain varieties may contain toxins or create severe side effects. There are over a hundred varieties of pine trees in North America alone.
Health Benefits of Pine Needle Tea
There are few long-term or clinical studies on pine needle tea’s health benefits. However, it has a lengthy history of use in Native American and Asian cultures. In memoirs, encyclopedias, and folklore, it is mentioned. Here are some of its most important health advantages:
It Maybe Rich in Vitamin C
Pine needle tea is thought to provide 4-5 times more vitamin C than orange juice, despite the lack of evidence. According to the Encyclopedia of Folk Medicine, it was a traditional treatment for scurvy, a disease caused by a lack of vitamin C. Native Americans utilized pine needle tea to treat scurvy among colonists. According to a Korean study, pine needle tea’s antioxidant activity is comparable to vitamin C.
May Augment Vision health
Vitamin A is also present in pine needle tea. When combined with vitamin C., Vitamin C benefits aged eyes. It may improve our vision by providing antioxidant protection against contaminants, and vitamin A is necessary for our cornea and vision improvement.
May Help Cure/Manage Respiratory Conditions
Indigenous societies frequently employed pine needle tea to cure respiratory issues. White pine was utilized by Native Americans as an expectorant and decongestant, according to the Encyclopedia of American Indian Contributions to the World.
May Aid in Weight Loss
Pine needle tea could have the same benefits as green and black tea, and it has been shown in studies to aid weight loss. In a Korean study, Pine needle extract and green and black tea were proven to decrease weight growth and lower visceral fat mass in overweight rats and humans.
It Maybe Rich in Antioxidants
Pine needle tea may be high in antioxidants, essential for combating free radicals, chronic illnesses, and disease prevention. According to a study published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology, a water extract from pine needles exhibited significant antioxidants and DNA–protective effects.
May Improve Heart Health
Pine needle tea may benefit your cardiovascular system. According to research, it may protect against LDL oxidation, a disease that might endanger your cardiovascular health. It may also have potent anti-inflammatory qualities, which aid in reducing cardiac damage caused by pollution or other reasons.
May Help Improve Cognitive Function
Early research on the effects of this potent tea on neurodegenerative illnesses has yielded encouraging results. It has been shown in animal studies to be particularly helpful in treating memory loss or amnesia. The antioxidants in this tea may aid in brain connection repair and memory enhancement.
How to Make Pine Needle Tea?
Let us look at the step-by-step method to make pine needle tea.
- 1 cup water filtered
- One handful of fresh pine needles
- Begin by gathering or purchasing fresh pine needles. For a strong cup of tea, a little handful should suffice.
- Cut off any of the needles’ brown ends or sheaths; they can also be plucked off. Cut the needles into quarter-inch segments.
- Bring a kettle of water to a boil, then add the freshly cut pine needles.
- Allow the needles to steep for 3-4 minutes after covering the saucepan with a lid.
- Remove the pot from the heat but leave it covered to enable the steeping to continue.
- Pour through a strainer into a cup once all the needles have sunk to the bottom and the tea has chilled.
Note: Ensure that the pine needles are a bright green color, and yellow or brown ones should be avoided. Fresh pine needles are more pliable than older pine needles, making them better for tea.
What are the Side Effects of Pine Needle Tea?
Pine trees come in a range of shapes and sizes. When used for food, several of these are possibly toxic or dangerous. It is best to forage for pine needles with the help of a professional. According to the USDA Agricultural Research Service, when grazed by cattle, ponderosa pine needles may cause abortion. Because there is so little research on pine-needle tea’s adverse effects, they are primarily anecdotal. Here are a few examples:
- Irritation in the throat and mouth
- Inflamed patches on the skin
According to the USDA, pregnant women should not consume Ponderosa pine needles. If you are pregnant, avoid drinking this tea due to the toxicity of some pine species.
Allergy: You should also be mindful of any possible pine tree allergies. The pine oil generated during the brewing of the tea may cause inflammation in the skin and stomach, causing gastrointestinal distress in some persons. Because of these potential adverse effects, it is recommended that you start with half a cup.
Pine needle tea is usually drunk hot and fresh, but it can also be chilled and enjoyed as a cold beverage. It could be eaten on a camping trip created with pine needles from neighboring trees if you’re highly sure of your tree expertise. Pine needle tea is simple to make, using only fresh, young pine needles and hot water! However, as previously stated, selecting the appropriate pine needles is critical. Because there are over 20 recognized hazardous types of pine trees, conduct extensive research or obtain pine needles from a professional herbalist or natural medicine practitioner. The ponderosa pine, balsam fir, lodgepole, and Monterey pines are more well-known toxic types.
Several trees are popularly referred to as “pine trees” but are toxic imitators, including the English Yew, Norfolk island pine, and Yew pine. Pine needle tea should never be made with them. Various types of pine make good tea, but the Eastern white pine (Pinus strobus) is one of the most popular, owing to its excellent flavor. It’s commonly created with pine tree leaves that are still fresh. The tea has a lovely citric flavor and a woodsy scent.