ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to Make Safe, Healthy Pine Needle Tea

Updated on October 16, 2012
Miniature Eastern White Pine
Miniature Eastern White Pine | Source

Pine needle tea is an ancient beverage with pleasing aromas, a light, crisp flavor, and health benefits. It’s very easy to make, and best of all, it doesn’t cost a thing! You can go out and gather the fresh needles yourself. Before making pine needle tea, however, you must do your homework. Certain species of pine, or other plants mistaken for pine, can be downright poisonous. Just a few minutes of research will have you identifying the safe, medicinal pines in your area.

History and Health

Native North Americans have used pine needle tea for centuries, especially in the north. Beneficial all year round, it was prized most during the winter to prevent illness and provide nourishment. When white settlers came to the continent they often suffered from scurvy—a disease resulting from vitamin C deficiency—until the natives introduced them to pine needle tea. Pine needles (and many other parts of the Pine tree) contain several times more vitamin C than fresh orange juice, and can easily meet your daily need of it. Other health benefits of pine needle tea are reputed to include:

  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin A
  • Relief for symptoms of colds
  • Relief from infections
  • Decongestant
  • Use as an antiseptic when chilled
  • Improvement for fatigue
  • Mental clarity
  • Aromatherapy

Pine needle tea is said to provide relief for many other conditions as well; this article has an impressive list of studies done on the benefits and chemical characteristics of pine needles.


Making Pine Needle Tea

First you need to identify a pine tree in your area that is a safe species and has not been sprayed with any chemicals or treatments. I will describe how to do this in the next section. Here’s how to make your tea!

  1. Identify!
  2. Collect a bundle of young, green needles from the end of the branch. About a handful is fine. Older needles are acceptable too, if needed.
  3. Remove the brown, papery sheath from all the needles.
  4. Chop the needles into smaller pieces. This is actually optional. It speeds the process by aiding the release of the pine juices and oils. I have also seen the tea made with whole needles and it turned out wonderful.
  5. Heat water to just before boiling. Avoid boiling the pine needles. Vitamin C is heat sensitive and doing so could lower the vitamin content.
  6. Steep tea for about 10 minutes. Pour the hot water over the needles. If you chopped the needles into very small pieces, you may want to strain them out after steeping. You wouldn’t want to accidentally suck one of those down, those things are sharp! You can steep it longer if you are trying to relieve acute symptoms.
  7. Enjoy hot or cold!

The tea will have a very pale color, or be almost clear, but the aroma and flavor will be very evident! It is best to make pine needle tea fresh each time. Storing it could reduce the vitamin content and change the flavor. You could also make a larger batch and pour it into a bath to enjoy the pleasant aromas.

Many species are safe to experiment with for tea, and you may find you prefer one flavor over another. White Pine is largely regarded as the best option for pine needle tea.

Avoid These Dangerous Species!

As I mentioned before, it is essential that you identify the pine before you use it in a tea. Not all conifers or “evergreens” are pines! While many pines are perfectly safe to use, certain others can sicken you. Other non-pine evergreens can be poisonous too. Also make sure the trees have not been sprayed with chemicals or treatments, because you’ll be drinking it! Before collecting needles, make sure your tree is NOT one of the following:

  • Ponderosa Pine; also known as Blackjack, Western Yellow, Yellow, and Bull Pine. This pine contains isocupressic acid, which is known to cause abortions in cattle. It is feared the same could happen in humans, so pregnant women and those who might be pregnant are often advised not to consume pine needle tea, even though not all species have this acid. Others that do contain it are:
  • Lodgepole Pine, or Shore Pine; isocupressic acid
  • Common Juniper; isocupressic acid
  • Monterey Cypress, or Macrocarpa; isocupressic acid
  • Common Yew; another evergreen, all parts of this tree contain aniline and taxane, both toxic substances that can cause abdominal cramps, dizziness, rashes, skin discoloration, and in extreme cases death. Taxane is used in chemotherapy. That doesn’t sound fun, does it?
  • Norfolk Pine, or Australian Pine; known to be poisonous to house pets.

Research the common Pine trees in your area!

young pine cones
young pine cones | Source

Other Edible Pine Parts!

Did you know that essentially the entire pine tree (the non-toxic ones, of course!) is edible? The needles can be used in tea or chewed raw. The pitch or sap is also high in vitamin C. Pine buds, pollen, young pine cones (before they become hard), pine nuts, and the inner bark are all edible! (Though harvesting the last one damages the tree).


Find some pine needles!
Find some pine needles! | Source
Remove brown, papery shafts from the end of the needles.
Remove brown, papery shafts from the end of the needles. | Source
Cut the needles into smaller sections.
Cut the needles into smaller sections. | Source
Place the needles in a mug and steep with not-quite boiling water.
Place the needles in a mug and steep with not-quite boiling water. | Source


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Deborah Minter profile image

      Deborah Minter 

      3 years ago from U.S, California

      Thank you ..... Very good article.

    • Spanish Food profile image

      Lena Durante 

      3 years ago from San Francisco Bay Area

      I've seen people do this on survival shows (for the vitamin C) and have always been sort of curious about it. I'm definitely going to do some research on my local evergreens first, though!

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      i like this article

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      great, but! what about the beneficial species, for instance i,m still wondering is pinus radiata safe


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)