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Earth Eats: Real Food, Green Living

How To Make Pine Needle Tea

You can identify a white pine tree by its clusters of five needles per bunch.

pine needles

Photo: Annie Corrigan/WFIU

Students at Templeton Elementary School snip off the tops of needles from a white pine tree.

Shane Gibson says foraging for wild edibles is one of the few ways he’s found to get his youngest son to eat vegetables. “We enjoy nibbling on violets and dandelions,” he says. “We’ll make sumac lemonade and spicebush tea.”

Gibson is the Environmental Education Director at the Sycamore Land Trust. He sees a similar love of wild foods in the kids he works with at Templeton Elementary School (Bloomington, Indiana).

I visited him on a cold and blustery February day. He was leading a group of 6-11-year-olds in a lesson about his family’s favorite — pine needle tea.

Gibson says there’s no set recipe for pine needle tea, but this is how he makes it:

  1. Identify a white pine tree by its cluster of five needles per bunch. Always verify and positively identify any wild edible prior to consumption.
  2. Snip off the top few inches of the needles with scissors.
  3. Cut needles to a smaller pieces and put them in a pot of water. Bring to a boil.
  4. Remove from heat and steep for 10-20 minutes.
  5. Strain out the needles before enjoying the tea.
Annie Corrigan

Annie Corrigan is a producer and announcer for WFIU. In addition to serving as the local voice for NPR's Morning Edition, she produces WFIU's weekly sustainable food program Earth Eats. She earned degrees in oboe performance from Indiana University and Bowling Green State University.

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