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Monday, February 6, 2012

Pine Needle Tea and no, it doesn't taste like turpentine!

Yellow Pine
Pinus Plustris or Pinus Elliotti
Thank you to my neighbor Harold
for letting me take photos and
gather pine needles and pitch from
his lovely trees!
Last week we talked about Tea (the black and/or green kind) and I included a couple herbal recipes.  I would like to introduce you to a tea (tisane) that you might never have thought of trying and hey, since we live in the Pineywoods of Texas, well you just might have one growing in your back yard.

And that would be Pine Needle Tea.  Okay, before you start thinking "Oh, Yuck!", keep an open mind let me tell you about the health benefits of Pine.

Pine needle tea is supposed to have 8 times the Vitamin C as an equivalent amount of orange juice.  Vitamin C is an essential vitamin, and a deficiency of C can cause scurvy.  "Scurvy often presents itself initially as symptoms of malaise and lethargy, followed by formation of spots on the skin, spongy gums, and bleeding from the mucous membranes. Spots are most abundant on the thighs and legs, and a person with the ailment looks pale, feels depressed, and is partially immobilized. As scurvy advances, there can be open, suppurating wounds, loss of teeth, jaundice, fever, neuropathy and death."  wikipedia
Photo by
If you so desire, google images of
Scurvy!  OMG!
"According to the Manataka American Indian Council, pine needle tea is a centuries-old healing remedy for Native Americans.  When 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."  www.livestrong.com/article/300039-the-health-benefits-of-pine-needle-tea.

If you choose to embark on this tea making adventure PLEASE make sure you properly identify any tree or plant that you are planning to use as a tea or wild food!  Pines are safe to use for tea,  but PLEASE make sure you are not using a Yew tree or a Texas Cedar (Juniper).
The Japanese yew tree at Grace Episcopal Church
1115 36th St. in Galveston
is confirmed by the Texas Forest Service
to be the largest of its kind in the state.

Pine Needle Tea

 You will need, give or take a handful of Pine needles.  Make sure you get them fresh off the tree...those on the ground are great for basket weaving.  Also, make sure that you never harvest from any plant that has been sprayed with any chemicals!

1 quart very hot water.  Boiling the pine needles would/could destroy the Vitamin C.

Put the kettle on
and brew yourself
a cup of Pine Needle Tea!
Chop up your needles.  I used a handful of pine needles, but for the first time, you might not want to be so generous.

About a handful!

Put chopped needles into a sauce pan and pour the hot water over the needles.  Let steep 20 minutes.

Ummmm, smell the aroma of Pine!
Strain the tea into your favorite cup and sip slowly to savor the pleasant wild flavor!

Pine needle tea has a piney citrusy taste.  And no, it does not taste like turpentine!

Any leftover tea does need to go into the frig.  The tea can be used as a broth, say for soup or my favorite, rice.

A strong brew of Pine Needles should act as an expectorant to bring up congested mucous in the Lungs.
Wish you were here!
Totally enjoyed this cup of
Pine Needle Tea with
a homemade Coconut Chocolate
Chip Cookie.
Personally, I love Pine Needle tea.  I put a little honey in mine, and, well, just about anything tastes good with my healthy version of Coconut Chocolate Chip cookies.  But we will save that recipe for another time.

Now if you are stuck out in the woods with a bad cold, and I sincerely hope this never happens to you or me, you could chew on pine needles to extract the Vitamin C.  Do spit out the needles, they would be really hard on your stomach lining!  Cold remedies can be made from the pine sap resin.  These remedies slightly irritate the lungs, kill bacterial infections, increase the effectiveness of coughs, halt coughing (herbs are amazing because they are actually capable of opposite actions at the same time!) and improve breathing.

Pine Brothers Cough Drops
Photo by
Have you ever seen “Pine Brother’s” cough drops?  These cough drops are still sold but unfortunately no longer contain pine.

Well, I need to close.  Definitely need to get out in the garden today.  The Henbit is taking over my Cilantro patch.  That actually isn't a bad thing because Henbit is an edible and medicinal plant.  Which means that as I clean out the bed, I will be saving the weeds to use for some herbal concoction!  The other day, I actually weeded around the baby Dandelion plants.  The neighbor (remember Omer?) would have shaken his head in disbelief watching me pull up the grass and leave the Dandelions. 

Hmmm, I guess next week we may have a blog about Henbit, no wait a minute, next week is Valentine's Day!  Love and Chocolate!  And yes, cocoa is an herb!  But, we will see.....you never know what is going to happen around here from one week to the next!  Until then, pinely yours, Susan

I don't understand why Cupid was chosen to represent Valentine's Day. When I think about romance, the last thing on my mind is a short, chubby toddler coming at me with a weapon. ~Author Unknown
Cowgirl Cupid

photo by


  1. Yellow pine...is it safe?

    1. Depends on where you live. If you live in my area. Yes, the Southern Yellow Pine is safe. Please, please make sure of the identification of all plants before ingesting them! Ask you county extension agent if in doubt!

  2. Hi, I made a batch of Mead and flavored it with needles from a Eastern White Pine. I boiled a half gallon of water, dropped in a half pound of the needles and simmered for about 1.5 hrs. I mixed this with 8 lbs of honey and 4 gallons of water. My question is, do I have to worry about an toxins from when I cooked down the needles? Did I release the turpentine oils? I drank some but the side effect was only a good buzz so far but it does have a very strong piney/off flavor. Thank you, Pat