Pine needle tea is not so popular but those who have tried it love it so much for its taste and aroma. Besides the amazing taste, this tea is also taken for medicinal purposes mostly by Asian cultures to cure various diseases.
Pine needle tea can manage high blood pressure, boost immunity, treat scurvy( a vitamin C deficiency), treat inflammation, improve respiratory conditions, and many other benefits discussed in this article.
To begin with;
What is pine needle tea?
Pine needles are leaves or needles of various pine trees. It is these needles or leaves that can be used to make the pine needle tea.
The tea is made by brewing fresh needles of any trees in the Pinus genus. The most popular pine tree used to make the tea is the Eastern White Pines (Pinus strobus). However, many other types of pine trees are used to make tea.
Pine trees are native to the Northern Hemisphere and are spread throughout the whole world from cold to subtropical regions.
The tea made from pine needles is considered medicinal in many indigenous communities and is still consumed in many parts of the US and Asia.
The type of needles chosen to make tea greatly affects its concentration. Older needles have a higher concentration of vitamin C and usually taste more bitter than younger needles that taste sweeter but have a lower concentration of vitamin C.
Older needles are found around the base of the branch and have a darker green color while young needles are usually at the top or tips of the branch and have a brighter green color.
Which Pine needles are safe for tea?
There are over 36 species of pine but not all of them are good for pine needle tea. Most of the pine trees are safe and can be used to make pine needle tea except for some poisonous varieties.
Some of the poisonous varieties are Yew (Taxus), Norfolk Island Pine (Araucana heterophylla), balsam fir, lodgepole, Monterey pines, and Ponderosa Pine (Pinus ponderosa).
It is therefore advised to check the safety of the variety of pine tree needles that you choose to use in brewing the tea.
When in doubt, don’t make the tea because some varieties can be toxic and cause serious health issues.
How to make pine needle tea
No special recipe is needed to make the tea, it is just boiling water and adding in the pine leaves. The more pine needles you add, the more the concentration, and the bitter taste.
What you will need.
- A large pot.
- A handful of pine needles.
- Purchase or collect fresh pine needles. 2 handfuls can be enough for 2 cups of strong pine needle tea.
- Wash and chop the needles into chunks.
- Bring the pot of water to boil and then add the chopped pine needles.
- Cover the pot and allow the needles to steep for about 5-10 minutes, the longer the stronger the taste.
- Take the pot off the heat and strain to separate the needles from the tea.
- Add sweeteners if desired and serve while hot.
What are the health benefits of pine needle tea?
There are a lot of health benefits associated with pine needle tea due to the huge amounts of vitamin C, vitamin A, and antioxidants in the tea. Below are the health benefits of the tea;
1. Pine needle tea is a potential remedy for scurvy and boosts immunity.
It is believed that pine needle tea contains 4-5 times more vitamin C than many citrus fruits such as orange. If this is true, pine needle tea can help you meet your vitamin C requirements much easier.
Traditionally, pine needle tea was used to treat scurvy a disease caused by vitamin C deficiency.
In the process of boosting immunity, vitamin C found in pine needle tea can encourage the production of white blood cells known as lymphocytes and phagocytes, which help protect the body against infection.
2. It may decrease the risk of inflammation.
The huge amounts of vitamin C in pine needle tea make it a potential fighter against inflammation. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that fights against oxidative stress and chronic diseases. Therefore, having enough vitamin C can help fight against inflammation.
The tea is also rich in other antioxidants such as Alpha-Pinene, Beta-Pine, Beta–Phellandrene, and others. These help to fight free radicals and chronic diseases.
Read also: Herbs and spices for inflammation.
3. Pine needle tea may help manage high blood pressure.
Studies show that vitamin C, a nutrient in pine needle tea is a great remedy for high blood pressure. Taking the tea may lower high blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease.
You might be interested in: Spices and herbs to lower high blood pressure.
4. May improve respiratory conditions.
Respiratory diseases affect the lungs and can make breathing difficult.
Some of the common respiratory diseases asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pulmonary fibrosis, and pneumonia. Taking pine needle tea can help improve the symptoms and reduces the risk of developing these diseases.
The protection and healing of respiratory diseases is attributed to the vitamins, and antioxidants in the tea. Pine needle tea has expectorant qualities that promote the secretion of sputum by the air passages, used to treat coughs.
5. May improve vision.
Tea made from pine needles has vitamin A which is known for eye and vision health. Vitamin A plays an important role in keeping the cornea healthy as well as allowing the eye to see in low light conditions.
A deficiency of vitamin A can cause Xerophthalmia a progressive eye disease that begins with night blindness and can transform into irreversible blindness if the deficiency is not treated.
Studies also suggest that sufficient amounts of vitamin A can reduce the risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. Therefore, taking pine needle tea can help meet your vitamin A needs.
So, is pine needle tea a miracle tea?
I wouldn’t call it that because no solid scientific research backs them up.
More scientific research is needed to prove the health benefits of pine needle tea. For example;
- Pine needle tea is thought to have anti-cancer properties.
- It can improve moods, memory, and brain health.
Side effects of pine needle tea
Pine needle tea is safe when taken or used as recommended. however, some peoples have experienced mild side effect such as;
- Stomach complications.
- Irritation in the throat and mouth.
So, when can this tea cause side effects or be harmful?
The tea can cause side effects when consumed in large amounts. Drinking more than 5 cups of this tea per day can cause side effects.
- It can cause side effects when you use toxic varieties of pine trees. Trees such as Yew (Taxus), Norfolk Island Pine (Araucana heterophylla), balsam fir, lodgepole, Monterey pines, and Ponderosa Pine (Pinus ponderosa) can release harmful chemicals in the tea leading to side effects.
- While on certain medications, pine needle tea can cause interactions with the medicine making them ineffective in serving their purpose.
- You might also be allergic to pine needle tea, since people have different allergies, if you happen to experience side effects every time you drink the tea, it’s more likely that you are allergic to it.
- Drinking pine needle tea while pregnant is not recommended as it may cause side effects to the mother and the baby.
Should you see the doctor?
Usually, these side effects are temporary and minor, they usually stop when you stop the consumption of the tea. However, when if the side effects are severe and hang around for some time, it’s high time you saw a doctor.
The bottom line.
Pine needle tea is so nutritious with huge amounts of vitamin C, vitamin, A, antioxidants, and other nutrients. These contribute to many health benefits such as boosting immunity, improve eye health, anti-inflammatory properties, flu remedy, and many others.
However, many of these benefits are not scientifically proved and those that are proved were tested on animals. Therefore, do not substitute pine needle tea for your medication.
In case you are on a certain medication, consult your doctor if it’s okay to take pine needle tea. The reason for the consultation is that pine needle tea may have interactions with your medications.