White Pine Tea
It’s been getting really cold in Western MA the past couple of weeks! And now with a fresh layer of snow on the ground, it’s time to bundle the kids up, eat some nice hot meals with the family, and cozy on up with lots and lots of hot tea. Ye,t while we tend to spend so much time indoors during the cold winter months, there is nothing like talking a walk outside with the cold crisp air… followed by a warm cup of tea!
Even though it’s cold outside, it’s easy to make winter walks really fun for kids. Last week, my six-year old daughter and I went for a walk down by the Mill River. One of the things that we do these adventures is to think of something that might be on our walk and to see if we can spot it. That can include spotting a old bird nest high in a tree, animal tracks in the snow, a brave little Chickadee and so many other great finds.
When we went on our walk a few days ago, we went on a mission to find a white pine tree. The plan was to find one and take some needles home to make some tea. I have worked hard to learn to identify lots of things out in the woods, but we still carry i.d. books with us. It’s great to learn about something new and also to double-check your subject if you aren’t 100% positive. Identification books are great to carry around on hikes or even the most simple walks. There are also a lot of kid friendly books on everything from trees to wild-edibles to the constellation.
Back to our mission… we did end up finding a large white pine tree for making our tea. Eastern white pines have been used as medicinal and food purposes for a long time, from the bark to the needles. It’s known for its very high amount of Vitamin C, which makes it perfect for winter especially with colds and such. There are several types of pine trees, over 100 world wide, but there are common characteristics of a white pine. They are the largest of eastern conifers and can grow between 80 to 110 feet high. The needles which you can make tea from are in clusters of five (important to know), they are 3 to 5 inches, very soft and flexible with dark blue-green color to them.
My daughter and I are early birds, so we always have a cup of tea after we have our morning snuggle. We are big time tea drinkers. The white pine needles have a mild flavor with a little citrus and pine flavor to it. I like to add honey and a little lemon to it, my daughter never passes at having honey with her tea.
So next time you are out on a walk with your little one, maybe you can find a Eastern white pine and take some needles home to make a cup of tea after your cold winter walk. The winter solstice is coming soon… how about a little celebratory tea from nature itself?
Recipe for White Pine Tea
3/4 to 1 cup of pine needles(about a handful)
2 cups of water
1. Rinse the needles and chop in half or in quarters.
2. Measure about 2 cups of water
3. Pour boiled water over needles in a tea pot, glass or ceramic jar.
4. Let sit for at least twenty minutes or keep overnight.
5. Strain tea
6. Add lemon and honey if you prefer and enjoy! A little mint may also be nice!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Leslie Lynn Lucio
Leslie is from Texas but has always been drawn to New England. She lives in the town of Northampton and loves living in Western Massachusetts. She spends a lot of time with her five year old and connecting with the community. Her interest include cooking, DIY projects,writing, biking, being outdoors, photography, restoration, food preservation and social activism. She spends some of her time farming when she can and also you can spot her working with the Pedal People.