I keep hearing a lot about pine needle tea and its benefits for the immune system and why it’s so popular right now. This tea smells lovely (like Christmas), has a pleasant citrusy, herby taste and is packed full of antioxidants and vitamins.
New Zealand Pine Needles (Pseudotsuga menziesii [Douglas Fir] and Pinus Radiata [Monterey Pine]) are both safe to make into tea. Steer clear of Norfolk Pine (Australian Pine), Loblolly Pine, Lodgepole Pine, Ponderosa Pine and Common Juniper. A good rule of thumb is to avoid flat needles.
My preference is Pinus Radiata as they grow in abundance around NZ, these needles grow in clusters from a single origin point on a branch, they are softer to touch than other conifers and tend to grow longer in length.
You want to pick new growth pine needles for a nicer tasting tea with all the medicinal benefits. Pine needles have been used by indigenous populations around the world as both food and medicine for hundreds of years and I also read that Taoist priests drank pine needle tea as they believed it made them live longer.
I don’t advise ingesting pine essential oil, ingesting essential oils can be dangerous and should not be done unless advised by a certified practitioner. For more about the dangers of ingesting essential oils click here.
You should also be cautious drinking pine needle tea if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. If you are taking prescription medication check with your doctor before drinking regularly as it can reduce the effectiveness of other drugs in your system. It’s also a diuretic and in large quantities can be irritating to the bladder.
Some conifers can be toxic so make an identification of the specific species before using it in this recipe. Avoid yew, cypress, and Norfolk pine as they are reported to be toxic.
To make pine needle tea all you have to do is, pick your pine needles, place a small handful into a tea pot with or without a strainer.
Boil your jug, pour boiling water over needles, steep for a few minutes, remove needles (or pour tea through strainer) and drink.
You can add some sweetener if preferred or squeeze some lemon or orange into your tea for extra vitamin c and a fruity flavour.
I also found this article 5 medicinal uses of plants in a survival situation. from This NZ Life interesting, pine needle tea is one of the plants to have on hand.