Disclaimer: You should do your own extensive research before darting off into the woods to wild craft anything. Take everything with a grain of salt, and if in doubt, don’t do it. Dosages of things like decoctions and tinctures vary depending on age and weight by plant, so if you are serious about using any of the following information, make sure you have looked into that sort of thing extensively before using.
I have explained pine needle tea to many people over the years, and every time I get the same astonished look from people, followed by “I didn’t know that!” Not many people seem to these days, that is for sure. It has become almost like a secret among the handful of people in society to know anything at all about wild crafting teas, or foraging for food and medicine.
The biggest thing to blow people’s minds seems to be when you mention Vitamin C content in pine needles. The Native Americans didn’t know about the Vitamin C, but they knew if they consumed pine needles, or drank the tea made from them, the did not come down with illnesses brought on by the deficiency of the Vitamin, like scurvy.
FUN FACT: The daily minimum intake of Vitamin C for an adult male is around 100 mg p/day.
1 Orange-0.45 mg/g
1 Lemon-0.53 mg/g
1 Lime 0.29 mg/g
*The peel of citrus can have much more Vitamin C than the rest of the fruit combined, but it is bitter!
*You would have to eat at least two oranges a day to make sure you meet daily needs. The more Vitamin C the better, though! Don’t let anyone tell you any different.
The Vitamin C content in pine needles vary, depending on many factors like species, location, season, etc. The highest content could be 3 times more than 1 orange, but you won’t always know how much Vitamin C you are getting; however, the longer an herb sits in a substance, the stronger the infused liquid will be.
A tea made by pouring boiling water over chopped needles and leaving to steep 10-15 minutes will not be near as strong, both in flavor and vitamin content, as a decoction made by boiling the needles 10-20 minutes.
*Traditionally, Pine needle decoction has been used to treat a wide variety of human diseases.
You may prefer a simple tea over a decoction if you are merely drinking for flavor purposes. Sweeten with a little honey, or other sweetener if you want. Lemony citrus flavor will vary depending on species of pine you made your tea with. Experiment to find what you like better with what you have around you.
*Only use fresh, green leaves to make your tea. Brown leaves will not taste very good, nor be as beneficial. Pines are evergreen, though, so you should have a fresh supply year round in most places, except the desert or tropical regions where you will be hard pressed to find a pine tree to begin with.
Pines can be identified by the needles growing in clusters, rather than single needles growing straight from the branch like Spruce, Fir, and Yew. –Avoid Yew trees. They are toxic.–
Pines prefer full sun, so when you have a bunch growing close together, they will slowly lose leaves and branches, starting from the ground up, until you have 100 ft tall trees with bare trunks until the very top, completely out of reach for harvesting.
Needle cluster of
White Pine will taste better that Red Pine. Its turpentine and tannin content is not as strong, so you won’t have such a bitter taste when making decoctions, which tend to draw the bitters out of the leaves.
Avoid high amounts of pine while pregnant. Turpentine content of strong decoctions could be harmful to baby, but perfectly safe for your average person. One reason you have to watch EVERYTHING you ingest while pregnant. Again, if in doubt, don’t do it. Do your own research!(which entails reading more than one blog post. Use that search bar!)
In conclusion, pine needle tea can be beneficial in large quantities for a person’s health, but there are easier ways to use it as medicine. The tea, however, is delicious, and can be spruced up with orange or lemon juice, anise, and other spices. You can even infuse liquors with Pine, Juniper, and other conifers for holiday cocktails, but that is a different post altogether.
To extract the highest amount of vitamins for medicinal purposes, I suggest a tincture in Apple Cider Vinegar with the Mother in it. Fill a jar with clean pine needles, and cover with vinegar. Avoid metal lids, or put some sort of barrier between it and the vinegar, or oxidation could affect your tincture. Let is soak for about 6 weeks, strain, and store in a cool dark place. Unpasteurized vinegar tincture should be good for a year or so. Sometimes it can go rancid, depending on storage conditions. Putting a year expiration is your best bet for top quality.
Can be taken once or twice a day as a dietary supplement, and taken at intervals during the day when combating illness. Constituents in the needles help with circulation and are anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory as well as being high in Vitamin C. Pine needle tincture may help with: heart disease, heart ailments, varicose veins, muscle fatigue, sclerosis, kidney ailments, and strengthen nerves and muscles of the eyes, and much more.
EXTRA BONUS TID-BIT: Pine Sap Tincture, which is pine sap covered in 198 proof alcohol, like Everclear that has no water content, and left to dissolve into the liquor six to eight weeks, is a boon for the winter months. Pine sap medicine can be slightly irritating to the lungs, therefore increasing effectiveness of coughing, improve breathing, and kill bacterial infections. Dosage is about 10-15 drops. *Avoid use in small children.
I have gathered much of this information over the years, so my sources are broad, and unknown. You can easily search for this topic on Pinterest or any search engine. Pinterest may give you some pretty interesting recipes to spice things up, including the infused liquor I mentioned.
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This post is part of a series on Pine Trees. The other posts can be found below:
Pining For You
Pine Tar Salve DIY
Pine Pitch Candles
Pine Needle Oxymel
Infused Cleaning Vinegar
Identifying Pine Trees
All About That Pine Bark
Collecting Pine Pitch