How to Make Pine Needle Tea

Pine needles are a natural tea. You can drink pine needle tea to help with indigestion and stomach aches, as well as other minor ailments like coughs or colds. Pine needle tea is also thought to be good for the skin due to the antioxidants that it contains.

Pine needle tea is a type of herbal tea that is made by steeping pine needles in hot water.
The tea has been used for centuries as a medicinal drink, and is often consumed to help with colds and the flu. The tea can also be served cold or frozen. There are many benefits to drinking this beverage, but there are some risks involved too.

Pine needles in a cup.

Pine needle tea has been used for generations as a pleasant beverage and a therapeutic drink, packed with antioxidants and vitamins A and C (in fact, 4-5 times that of orange juice), swore by as an immune booster and congestion relief. The crew of French adventurer Jacques Cartier was spared from a terrible case of scurvy by drinking this tea in the winter of 1536. Cartier would later refer to the tea’s source as the “tree of life.”

Yew tree needles.

The yew tree (top) looks like a pine but isn’t, and its flat needles are deadly. The eastern white pine (bottom) is a common tree that is easily identified by its five-needle clusters and produces a good tea.

In North America, there are 36 different species of pine, however not all of them are suitable for making pine needle tea. Some pine species, such as the Ponderosa pine, as well as trees that seem to be pines but aren’t, such as the yew species and the Norfolk Island pine, are poisonous to drink. However, many others, such as eastern white pine and noble fir (both of which belong to the pine family), are tasty and safe to drink. Before you start sipping your tea, make sure you’ve done your study and identified the sort of pine you’re gathering.

The sort of needles you use for your tea is determined by how you want to consume it. The vitamin C content of older needles is greater, but the flavor is more harsh. Tea made with younger needles is sweeter and more enjoyable to drink. The color and positioning of needles on the branch might help you determine their age. Younger needles are often brighter green in color and present near the branch’s very tips. Older needles are deeper in color and may be found towards the base of branches.

Douglas needles on the floor.

My tea was made using Douglas fir needles.

Gather a lovely fresh branch, rinse it to remove any pests or dirt, and then remove the needles off the branch. If you’re steeping long needles, such as those from an eastern white pine, in a tiny pot or mug, slice them up into smaller pieces first. Smaller needles don’t need to be chopped up.

Douglas fir needles in a pan.

Bring three cups of water to a low simmer, then remove from heat (essential) and add around half a cup of fresh needles. Pine needle tea should never be boiled. Boiling causes vitamin C to break down and terpenes to be released, making the tea bitter. Instead of raising the heat, just add more needles to make a stronger tea.

Filtering Douglas fir after boiling in water with strainer.

Allow 20 minutes for your pine needle tea to steep, or until the needles have settled to the bottom of your pot or cup. You may filter the needles out at this stage or leave them in while you drink. Remove the needles if you intend on storing the tea for later use to avoid over-steeping.

Another option is to sift the pine needles through a tea strainer, set it in a cup, and pour boiling water over it. Allow to steep for a few minutes before straining and serving.


Fresh pine needles in cup.

Tea made with fresh pine needles, plus a bit more for garnish.

Your final tea will have a lemony, resinous flavor that is very delightful. If you’re out in the woods, drink it straight, or add a squeeze of lemon and/or a drizzle of honey to make it more flavorful at home.



Pine needle tea is a type of herbal tea that is made by steeping pine needles in hot water. The benefits of drinking this tea include the ability to reduce swelling and inflammation, improve digestion, and boost immunity. Reference: pine needle tea benefits.

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