Tuesday, September 18, 2018

How to Make Pine Needle Tea

It's easy to make, free, pack-a-punch healthy and the perfect fix on a frigid cold Wisconsin morning. It's about as natural of a drink you can consume and getting outside is a mandatory requirement for foraging its ingredients. Clearly pine needle tea is a win-win.

For a few years I've taught groups of middle school and high school kids at various outdoor education jobs I've had at YMCAs in Wisconsin and Colorado this little back country treat. "Are you serious?!" Is the laughing reaction I get when I explain we'll be drinking tea from pine needles. Their opinions changed empty mugs later and a whole lot more energy.

Tea lovers and outdoors folk rejoice, this delicious hot drink can be effortlessly made in your own kitchen or out on the hiking trail. True fact- one cup of pine needle tea has nearly five times more Vitamin C than a cup of orange juice. It's also crazy-rich in Vitamin A. This feel-good tea is perfect if you're looking to give your immune system a quick boost and body a full-cleansing.
Step 1: Gather one or two handfuls of green pine needles. They have to be fresh and living, not the gross brown dry ones you use to start camp fires. Depending on where you live, you can spice up the flavor a bit by combining say needles from Lodgepole Pines and Junipers. In Wisconsin, there's an abundance of Eastern White, Jack and Red Pines. Don't be shy to mix a few needles from nearby spruces or firs.

Step 2: Pluck and wash the pine needles.
This is the sappy part- pluck all the needles from the branches and throw them in a colander. Run your hands through and rinse the needles clean of dirt in colander with hot water.
Step 3: Cut the needles.
On a cutting board or sturdy surface, chop and break apart the pine needles as best as you can. Broken needles gives the tea a more intense flavor when steeping.
Step 4: Steep the pine needles in boiling hot water and enjoy. Now you can enjoy and sip away. Put a few pinches of pine needles into your thermos or mug, add boiling hot water and let steep at least 5 minutes. I like a strong pine flavor so I steep my tea for close to ten. Sugar and honey do wonders with pine needle tea, so experiment a bit.

This is the perfect little drink for fall and winter!

Cheers,
Robby

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