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How to Make Pine Needle Tea

Updated on August 8, 2014

Brew an Infusion or Tea from Pine Needles

Pine Needles can be used to brew a tea, a decoction, or an infusion that is naturally high in Vitamin C making it a great medicinal tea to drink during the winter months to help manage seasonal colds and congestion.

The piney-lemony flavor is very pleasant. As a medicinal tea made from pine needles can be used as a decongestant and an expectorant to thin the mucus, so this tea is helpful to drink with colds, cough or congestion.

Use freshly picked pine needles to brew up a cup at home with a strainer and tea kettle or when out camping in the wild by boiling up needles in a pot or a cup over an open fire.

Read on to see how easy it is to make your own cup of pine needle tea.

Red Flower Tea Strainer available on Amazon

Brewing pine needle tea image by Kirsti A. Dyer. All rights reserved.

Ready to brew up some Pine Needle Tea?

Ingredients for Pine Needle Tea

Drink Pine Needle Tea image by Kirsti A. Dyer. All rights reserved.

How to Make a Pine Needle Broth Video

Learn how to make pine needle tea or broth.

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Steps to Make Pine Needle Tea

Chop Needles. Brew Tea. Enjoy.

Pine Needle Tea Images by Kirsti A. Dyer. All rights reserved.

Making Pine Needle Tea

Making pine needle tea is pretty simple.

  1. Pick pine needles. (I used sugar pine needles)
  2. Pull off ends and cut pine needles into smaller pieces (optional for Wilderness tea version)
  3. Put pine needles into a tea infuser and place in a cup. (or straight into the container for Wilderness tea)
  4. Add hot water.
  5. Allow pine needles to steep several minutes.
  6. Pull out strainer, pine needles, or allow needles to settle to the bottom before drinking.
  7. Add honey or sugar if desired.

More on Making Pine Needle Tea

For more pictures and details on making pine needle tea read this article from Practical Primitive.

Cut Pine Needles with Herb Cutting Scissors

Norpro Triple Blade Herb Scissors
Norpro Triple Blade Herb Scissors

These herb cutting scissors are helpful for cutting pine needles.

 

Use a Tea Strainer to Brew the Needles

Any type of tea strainer that catches tea leaves will work.

Jokari Healthy Steps Total Tea Infuser
Jokari Healthy Steps Total Tea Infuser

The Jokari Tea Infuser makes it very easy to brew pine needle tea and then clean up the needle debris afterwards.

 
koziol AUDREY Tea Strainer, Filter, Tea Bag, transparent red/green
koziol AUDREY Tea Strainer, Filter, Tea Bag, transparent red/green

Koziol's flower tea strainer makes a beautiful way of brewing up tea.

 
Tovolo Stand-Up Tea Infuser - Green
Tovolo Stand-Up Tea Infuser - Green

Tovolo's tea infuser is another way of easily brewing up the pine needles into an infusion or a tea.

 

Warm up Your Water in a Green Tea Kettle

Rachael Ray Teakettles 2-Quart Porcelain Curve Kettle, Green
Rachael Ray Teakettles 2-Quart Porcelain Curve Kettle, Green

What better than a green tea kettle for brewing up your pine needle infusion.

 

Uses of Pine Needle Tea

Pine needle tea has many health benefits both for keeping you from getting sick and then helping manage the symptoms once you are sick.

  1. Decongestant for congestion
  2. Expectorant helping to thin out mucus
  3. Soothing a cough (especially with honey)
  4. Helping prevent or at least reduce the duration of colds (as a good source of Vitamin C)
  5. Preventing scurvy (as a good source of Vitamin C)

Pine Needle Tea is a Good Source of Vitamin C

Image by Kirsti A. Dyer
Image by Kirsti A. Dyer

Pine Needle Tea a Wild Source of Vitamin C

Pine Needles are known to be a good wild source of Vitamin C.

Pine needle tea contains 4 to 5 times the Vitamin C found in a lemon or fresh-squeezed orange juice.

Pine needles were a way that the Native Americans could get Vitamin C in their diet and prevent from getting Scurvy.

There are stories of how the Native Americans taught the early settlers to make pine needle tea so the settlers would not get scurvy from Vitamin C deficiency.

The Army even lists pine needles as being high in vitamin C in their book on The Complete Guide to Edible Wild Plants.

Pine Needles by Kirsti A. Dyer. All Rights Reserved.

Vitamin C in the Wild - Video

Learn from PeakSurvival how to find Vitamin C in the wild from pine needle tea.

Making Pine Needle Tea Tutorials on YouTube

Books on Pine Needle Tea on Amazon

If you are interested in reading more about using Pine needle tea in different cultures and traditions, check out these books on using herbal home remedies, infusions and teas.

Outdoor Tea

How to Make Pine Needle Tea - Video

A video from the Wandering Herbalist Series on making Pine Needle Tea in the wilderness.

Image by tombothetominator
Image by tombothetominator

Making Pine Needle Tea over a Fire

Pine needle tea is something that can be easily cooked up when out camping in the wilderness as an outdoor tea.

Instead of chopping up the tea, you can place the pine needles directly into water in a camping cup and then place the cup by the fire to heat, or in a pot over a flame.

Allow the water to heat up, but not boil. Let the 'tea' infuse for a few minutes, until a nice shade of yellow-green, then toss the pine needles.

If you chopped or cut up the pine needles, let them settle to the bottom of the cup before drinking.

Gather fresh pine needles if you want a second cup.

Pine Needle Tea cooking over an open fire by tombothetominatory. Used under Creative Common license

Camping Cookwear on Amazon

With camping cookwear you can brew up a pot of pine needle tea on a camping trip.

Books on Survival Skills on Amazon

For more advice in surviving in the wilderness see the Army guides.

The Complete Guide to Edible Wild Plants
The Complete Guide to Edible Wild Plants

This is also available as a Kindle version if you want to read it before you set out on your wilderness adventures.

 

Cautions with Using Certain Pine Needles

Image by Dcrjsr
Image by Dcrjsr

Cautions Using Pine Needle Tea

In the articles and blog posts that I came across there were a few cautions in using Pine Needle Tea.

The main warning is that pine needle tea should not be consumed by pregnant women, because it might cause a miscarriage.

In the Pine Needle Tea recipe from the Manataka American Indian Council they include the caution "Do not drink pine needle tea when pregnant or if you are allergic to pine." The caution from the Chumash Pine Needle Tea Recipe also advises against pregnant women drinking pine needle tea "as pine needles will cause abortion."

This information was based on observations that pine needles consumed in large amounts caused abortions or stillbirths in cows within days to hours of eating the needles. These cows were eating large amounts of Ponderosa pine needles.

Dave from Dave's Garden cautions about using the Ponderosa Pine writing, "The twigs and needles of the ponderosa pine will abort a fetus in cattle and other farm animals, and is regarded as unsafe for human consumption, too."

Shehla Akhtar warns about getting contact dermatitis from the sap of the pine tree, particularly the white pine tree.

Since the US Department of Agriculture includes the Ponderosa Pine on it's list of poisonous plants, it makes sense to me that it would be better to use other pine needles, rather than the Ponderosa Pine when making pine needle tea, just to be safe, especially for pregnant women

Ponderosa Pine by Dcrjsr. Used under Creative Commons License.

Ponderosa Pine is Regarded as a Poisonous Plant

Ponderosa Pine (Pinus ponderosa)

Debunking Pine Needle Myth - At Least for Men

Green Dean debunked this information as an Internet Myth in his Foraging Myth Busting post.

He cites the famous naturalist Euell Gibbons in his debunking who has been quoted as saying,

  • "When I was a boy we used to eat ponderosa pine for pleasure . . . called it "slivers".
  • In the spring the bark is really gorged with starches and sugars and tastes quite sweet. It's also high in vitamins."

While the Ponderosa Pine might be alright for men to consume, it may be safer for pregnant women to be more careful about the pine needles selected to make pine needle tea.

The New Green Village on Amazon

The New Village Green: Living Light, Living Local, Living Large
The New Village Green: Living Light, Living Local, Living Large

Forager Euell Gibbons' quote on eating Ponderosa Pine appears on p. 239 in a chapter on "The Plowboy Interview."

 

Will you try Pine Needle Tea now?

Comments on Pine Needle Tea

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    • HealthfulMD profile image
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      Kirsti A. Dyer 4 years ago from Northern California

      @LiteraryMind: You can try it even if you don't get lost in the woods. :)

    • HealthfulMD profile image
      Author

      Kirsti A. Dyer 4 years ago from Northern California

      @Rosetta Slone: I hope you get a chance to try it sometime.

    • HealthfulMD profile image
      Author

      Kirsti A. Dyer 4 years ago from Northern California

      @miaponzo: Pine needles make a wonderful infusion.

    • profile image

      miaponzo 4 years ago

      I'm all for herbs, and pine of definitely a wonderful one to infuse into tea!

    • Rosetta Slone profile image

      Rosetta Slone 4 years ago from Under a coconut tree

      This is such a wonderful tutorial with plenty of extra info. Unfortunately, I don't have pine needles where I am but it looks so tempting!

    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Sounds really interesting. Good to keep in mind if lost in the woods.