Healing Evergreen Tea
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I decided I wanted to try making my own Healing Evergreen Tea now that I have lots of access to evergreen trees; I’ve been really interested in evergreens for a few years now. A while ago, I remember seeing a post about a woman gathering the new growth off of the trees in spring and making cocktails out of it (which, unfortunately I can’t find any longer). That was back in, like, 2009 when I first started blogging. Recently, I saw two other posts from Grow Forage Cook Ferment and The View from Great Island.
This Healing Evergreen Tea is high in vitamin C, it’s anti-oxidant rich, anti-inflammatory, and will help sooth a cough. Besides that, it smells like Christmas in a cup. It’s warm and toasty, and, it’ll help keep away scurvy (you know, in case you are susceptible to that lol). Besides being rich in vitamin C, evergreen needles may bring relief to the following conditions: heart disease, varicose veins, fatigue, kidney aliments, sclerosis. Evergreen tea may help improve eyesight, and helps in reversing or slowing the aging process (that’s the anti-inflammatory process at work).
Different evergreens have different flavors. Some are a little stronger or more bitter, some are sweeter or more piney, some come across as citrusy. Try a few to see what you like. Start with 1 tablespoon chopped leaves, then increase or decrease a bit depending on your preferences.
Coming from Southern California, I used to call everything a pine tree. It turns out, what I called pine trees are actually evergreens or conifers, which include pine, fir, spruce, hemlock, cedar, juniper, and redwood. Conifers are a category of evergreen trees, which means that they don’t lose their needles (or small leaves) in the winter (they stay green all year).
Where to collect
You’ll want to collect evergreen boughs from trees growing away from roads where they may be exposed to vehicle exhaust, road salts, and pesticide or herbicide sprays. Gather branches and needles that haven’t been sprayed with chemicals. Be careful of Christmas trees, as they may have been sprayed with fire-retardant or other chemicals.
What kind to collect
Many different evergreen trees or shrubs are edible and medicinal, but consult a guide book to be on the safe side. There are a few types that are toxic. If you’re interested in foraging, this book will safely guide you as well.
While most, if not all pines, firs, and spruce are edible, not all evergreens are OK to eat or drink. Do some research to find the edible evergreens in your area. Be careful to watch out for Yew trees, which look like conifers but are toxic. There are questions about the safety of using pine needle tea during pregnancy, so I suggest avoiding it if you’re pregnant.
Pine needles are round and long, and come off the branch in little bundles. They are the ones I used to braid as a kid. These are the ones I mostly see in Southern California. Unfortunately, I do not have a picture of a pine tree at the moment. I will work on getting one for the post.
Fir, spruce, and more:
Fir and spruce have flat needles that are short and stubby. The trees that are in western Washington are most likely to be fir trees.
Douglas Fir: Douglas firs are medium-size to extremely large evergreen trees with needles or leaves that are flat, soft, and about an inch long.
Blue Spruce: Like its name implies, it has blue-green colored needles, and the needles are sharp and spiny.
Coastal Redwood: Coastal Redwoods include the tallest living trees and they smell fantastic. The bark of the coastal redwood can be very thick, quite soft, and fibrous, with a bright red-brown color.
Cedar: There are lots of different cedars that grow throughout the world.
Juniper: Junipers vary in size and shape from tall trees to low spreading shrubs, and the needles of junipers are hard and sharp, making the juvenile foliage very prickly. I have two different kinds of junipers growing on my property.
Want your house to smell festive without any chemical sprays? Throw some evergreen boughs into a pot with water to cover. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to simmer. Check out my Instragram post from December 2015.
I love this little strainer for tea; simply put the strainer in the cup, and it hangs on the rim. Then, place the loose leaf tea or needles in the strainer and pour the hot water over them. When you remove the strainer, all the solids come out. Easy peasy! Here’s a similar stainer from Amazon.
Healing Evergreen Tea Recipe
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- Evergreen needles
- Clean the needles under fresh water to get any dirt or bugs off of them.
- Cut the needles into small pieces, then smash them a little with the back of the knife to release more oils.
- Place 1 tablespoon of chopped needles, into a strainer set into a cup. Pour 8-10 ounces of boiling water over the chopped needles, and let steep for 10 minutes. Strain and drink.