Why you should drink a pine tree
- How to make a lovely cup of tree (no, that’s not a typo)
- Why you should drink pine needles (but NOT these kind): The benefits of Pine Needle Tea
- This could be ideal if you want to recover quickly from colds and flu
I’ve just been on a dog walk.
And I noticed THREE houses with Christmas trees up already!
I’m all for the festive spirit but that does seem very early.
Then again, the Christmas ads are already on telly too.
So I won’t grumble.
In fact, grumbling about Christmas coming too early is almost as much a pre-Christmas tradition now as an advent calendar.
See also: “It’s too commercial these days.”
Actually, the sight of those trees in the windows brought to mind a recent conversation I was having with my herbal-tea-obsessed friend.
She was raving about pine needle tea – loves the stuff!
Now, I’ll admit, that’s not something I’ve tried before (bit of a gap in my natural remedy experience there!)
But she reckons when she has a mug of it every day, along with crushed star anise, it helps give her energy and lowers inflammation.
On top of that, she says, “it makes the house feel very Christmassy” when she brews it.
So while I know it’s too early for festive things (blah blah blah) I thought I’d give you the lowdown on pine needle tea, based on my research.
The healing power of trees
Some Native American tribes called the White Pine Tree, the “Tree of Peace”, because of its healing properties.
It is also said that Taoist monks in China drank pine needle tea in an attempt to live longer lives.
Since then, it has been discovered that it’s extremely high in vitamin C – in fact, it has five times the concentration of vitamin C that you get in lemons.
Which is why many people drink it to boost their immune system or speed up recovery from colds and flu – another thing that might be useful this festive season, as there are some stinking colds going around.
In fact, pine needles can act as an expectorant, helping you cough up phlegm.
They are also high in vitamin A, as well as other nutrients and antioxidants, including Alpha-Pinene, Beta-Pinene, Beta-Phellandrene, D-Limonene, Germacrene D, 3-Carene and Caryophyllene.
Which might be why the monks in China were drinking it to extend their lives.
But before you go out and start collecting pine needles, a few words of warning.
Pine needles to avoid
The recommended type of pine to turn into a tea is the ‘Pinus strobus’, which is a tree native to the USA, commonly known as the eastern white pine, northern white pine or plain old ‘white pine’.
However, here in the UK it is known as the Weymouth pine or soft pine. This is because it was imported to Britain from Maine in 1605 by Captain George Weymouth of the British Royal Navy.
So if you can find some of those trees, then forage away freely!
Now, while some websites claim that ANY variety of pine, spruce, or hemlock tree can be used… one website (the Tea and Coffee Company) stresses that you should avoid the following:
- Norfolk Island Pine
- Australian Pine
- Ponderosa Pine
- Lodgepole/Shore Pine
- Common Juniper
They say that these can contain toxins which cause irritation in your mouth and throat, along with nausea, vomiting, dizziness, headaches, diarrhoea and other delights.
I’m not so sure about this, though, as there is an expert forager in the USA, named Colleen Codekas, who disagrees and says that the above trees are fine to use as medicinal herbs.
That said, all the sources I’ve found agree that cypress and yew trees are absolutely to be avoided, at all costs.
I realise that they’re not technically pines, but people mistake them for pines.
So whatever happens, NEVER drink a yew tree.
Also, please bear in mind that pregnant women should avoid drinking pine needle tea, particularly spruce.
How to brew your cuppa
Anyway, if this subject is of interest to you, I’d recommend Googling ‘pine needle tea’ and finding a reputable source of needles to be on the safe side.
When you get hold of them, put 3 grams into a tea pot and boil some water. When the water has cooled by about 20% (or after a few minutes), pour it into the pot then leave to steep for 10 minutes at least.
If you decide to go foraging, then make sure you wash the pine needles, remove the woody ends from them and chop them into half inch pieces before you brew your tea.
My friend recommends that you add some star anise, partly for flavour and partly to give it even more antioxidant and respiratory healing power (plus a nice festive smell!). Star anise also has antibacterial properties to help kill off nasty bugs and even fungal infections.
Anyway, I am going to give it a go myself and will report back on the taste (and whether I’ve developed any superpowers).
Here’s to a lovely CUP OF TREE.