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Can You Use Any Type Of Pine Needle For Pine Needle Tea? - How To Make Pine Needle Tea

Updated on January 10, 2014

You may have heard the cliché of sailors and pirates getting the scurvy when on ship. Scurvy is a lack of vitamin c (which pines have a lot of), and a lack of vitamin c can cause serious disorder in your body and possibly even kill you if it lasts long enough. How was pine needle tea discovered? How do you make it? What pine needles can you use for pine needle tea? All of these questions will be answered. Keep in mind that you must be sure you identified the plant correctly before you attempt to consume it! This doesn't mean however that you shouldn't learn on your own and try. It is a lot easier to contact someone who's a professional to teach you about it first, but it's not necessary.

How was it discovered?

There was once a person and his army to travel to the early Americas by sea. He and his sailors were suffering from severe scurvy and plenty of them even died. The native Americans were extremely happy and healthy so the leader of this army asked the native Americans how the prevented this disease. They said "the tree you are standing under", and that tree just so happened to be the pine tree. They made teas out of it and it kept them healthy. How did the native Americans discover it? They watched the animals and the birds to see what they ate. You too can follow this example, but only watch the mammals. Other animals like reptiles can eat things that you cannot.

How do you make pine needle tea?

Pine needle tea is extremely easy to make, it's almost just like any other tea! First, you collect and boil water to make sure diseases and pathogens are killed off out of the water. You want it to be as clean as possible especially if you have plans to ferment it. Now you take pine needles and either crush them or chop them depending on the size. After that, make sure the water is hot, but not boiling as this would boil out the vitamins from the needles. Add the needles to the water and let them cook in there for about 10 minutes. Now you have the option of letting it ferment, or you can go ahead and drink it as a lighter tea. If you only made a small amount go ahead and drink it. If you made a large amount you could let it ferment. Before you drink it though be sure to put a cloth over the container you are pouring into to drink out of that way you filter all of the needles out. You don't want to choke on a needle after all.

Pine Type
High Toxicity
Medium Toxicity
Medium Toxicity

What Pine Needles Are Poisonous?

Over here are lists of the pines that are toxic. You must be careful to be able to identify these pines so that way you do not consume them. All pines CAN be toxic if you consume too much of it. That means you have to drink pine needle tea every single day in order to get sick from it so you shouldn't worry about it. The only reason it is that way is because it's high in vitamin C. It's almost like taking a vitamin supplement.

Lodgepole pine
Lodgepole pine
Monterey pine
Monterey pine
Ponderosa Pine
Ponderosa Pine

Here are the pine needles that are poisonous. They are pretty common so you should be careful as to which ones you pick out. For the most part, you really don't have to worry too much when making it because if you keep an eye out then you will be completely safe. A safe note to follow is if it's tall or looks like a christmas tree do not eat it! I felt like instead of zooming in onto the christmas tree looking pine to instead show the whole tree as it seemed to be able to be better for memory that way. If you want you can look up on google the close ups of the pine itself. In general these will be easy to identify as long as you just remember that little trick I stated above. Also keep an eye out for orange bark because that also signals that a tree produces poisonous chemicals. Since the pine needles are poisonous it would be safe to assume that the rest of the tree was poisonous as well. Now, you can still use the sap for lighting torches or as glue for your outdoor projects. Just do not attempt to consume it as it is more than likely poisonous as well. I'm not sure about the pine nuts because they don't have the same nutritional value as the pine needles do, but I wouldn't take the risk. Burning these trees may pose no risk as the tree has to dry before it can be burned anyway. That might cause it to be void of any chemicals in the tree that could cause possible harm to your lungs or other parts of your body. I'm not encouraging any experimentation however.

Video and common misinformation

This video to the side here will talk you through the steps of making pine needle tea. Now some things I would like to clear up that commonly confuse people with pine needle tea is that is the hemlock tree able to be made into it. Yes it can! The poisonous plant you are thinking of is the hemlock plant. They are significantly different and the hemlock plant is highly toxic. The tree however is not. The tree has tiny pinecones and short needles to match it. It was used by american settlers to make tea as well as horse carts and houses because the wood was so useful. The sap was used as pine tar to glue things together. A very useful tree indeed.

Have you successfully made pine needle tea?

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Final Thoughts

That's my 2 cents in on pine needle tea and the process of making it. It's a fairly easy project to do with the correct information. Just be sure that you try it yourself first and that you identify the plant properly before you feed it to anyone else. If you have any further questions feel free to post comments and I may reply in the comments or with another article. If I do write an article I will of course post a link!


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    • profile image


      19 months ago

      I have Easter white pines (long needle) in my back yard and cut then into 1/4 inch pieces (about a tsp full) and let them soak over night in 2 tbs of clean water. In the morning when I make regular tea I put the needle water into the tea after it has cooled a bit to preserve the Vitamin C.

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      I agree, not clear about the types that are actually safe!

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      You didn't make it 100% clear on weather or not you can drink the pines with poison as you said you would have to drink a lot of it so if per say you identified it wrong and only drank a little bit would it be ok

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      One cup of tea made with eastern white pine needles has the vitamin C equivalency of drinking 70 glasses of orange juice. My family and I started drinking about eight years ago it when it starts feeling wintery and the cold and flu season is about to start. We haven't had a cold or flu since, and we don't take flu shots.

    • VVanNess profile image

      Victoria Van Ness 

      6 years ago from Fountain, CO

      Nice. It sounds really good. Thanks!

    • zsezse4 profile imageAUTHOR

      Chris Thompson 

      6 years ago from United States

      Normally minty but there are some times it can end up tasting pretty sweet. I thinks that's because of the vitamin C. It goes good with most types of meats. Not on the meats however lol.

    • VVanNess profile image

      Victoria Van Ness 

      6 years ago from Fountain, CO

      lol That sounds good. So how does it end up tasting?

    • zsezse4 profile imageAUTHOR

      Chris Thompson 

      6 years ago from United States

      Made me nervous at first too I just went for the trees I knew were safe!

    • VVanNess profile image

      Victoria Van Ness 

      6 years ago from Fountain, CO

      I didn't even know that pine needle tea was a possibility. Very interesting! Very interesting article and very nice recipe. I just might have to give it a try, but it still makes me a little nervous.


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