I always enjoy a big pot of pine needle tea in the spring.
As soon as spring arrives, I head outside and gather a small bag of white pine needles from young seedling trees.
The inner bark and needles of our region’s conifers have a long history of medicinal use among the Native Americans. White-pine needle tea is especially rich in vitamins C and A, contains numerous other plant compounds with medicinal value, and may have saved the lives of early European explorers.
Pine Needle Tea Recipe
Chop and bruise a good handful of young green pine needles. Remove any brown ends and chop into half-inch pieces. Place needs in a glass, ceramic, or stainless tea pot. Pour two cups of boiling water over the needles, cover the pot, and allow to steep for a few minutes. The tea will turn a pale green with a light, piney smell. Most of the needles with sink to the bottom and you can pour the tea in to a mug. It's delicious. Some folks add a squirt of lemon or mix with another tea, too.
As with any wild-collected herb, don’t use unless you are certain you’ve identified the plant correctly. Don’t use this or other herbal products without first consulting your health practitioner if you are pregnant, seriously ill, or taking prescribed medicines.
As well as gathering pine needles in the spring, I also find young dandelion greens in the field near my house and hasten back to the house for my vintage dandelion fork to dig some. The tiny ones take a lot of tedious cleaning, but I love their mildly bitter, delicate flavor. I added a few to the evening’s spicy soup. See my tips on foraging for dandelions.
I spent the better part of the afternoon making two onion quiches and a couple of maple-pumpkin (squash) pies. A lot of last season’s onions had sprouted in the root cellar, and I still had half a dozen winter squash to use up. The hens have begun laying well again, and the guys who tap our maple trees had just delivered a gallon of new syrup.
By the time this post gets published, the forsythia in the yard and along the roadside will have bloomed, brightening the world, even on the grayest day.
Margaret Boyles lives in a wood-heated house in central New Hampshire. She grows vegetables, eats weeds, keeps chickens, swims in a backyard pond in summer, snowshoes in the surrounding woods in winter, and commutes by bike whenever possible.