You DO want to try this, but not till it's strained. Those little guys are sharp!
We were out walking yesterday, and there was a 3 foot pine seedling within easy access in the undeveloped wilder area. I clipped the end of one of its branches, since it was in an area that is never sprayed (and looked like it was in an area that might be mowed down before too long).
I'd read that pine needles make a great tea, and that the needles as well as many other parts of the pine tree were used by native populations as food in different ways. The vitamin C content of the needles is said to be really high. In fact, if settlers had drunk it during times of want, it is said there would have been no scurvy. Linda Runyon mentions pine in her foraging handbook. Anyway, I was curious!
I washed and trimmed some of the needles, and poured boiling over them, as seen above. Then I learned an important lesson...NOT to try sipping the brew while the needles are still in it (yeah, go ahead, I know everyone else has better sense! lol) I was aiming just for a sip, not a gulp, but two of those needle bits got sipped right up with the liquid and I just about had to have an embarrassing trip to the ER, only I'd not swallowed very hard and was able to REACH DOWN MY THROAT WITH MY HAND and pull the piercing little shards out (I can see trying to explain that one, ha!) Anyway, always strain the liquid to get all the needles out first (duh) before drinking. I have enough left, and I'll follow the instructions better next time around and steep them in a PAN of boiling water for 20 minutes.
But here's the exciting part...it was DELICIOUS! I expected a turpentine or stringent taste, but it was actually GREAT tasting...very light, sweet, fragrant...I couldn't believe it! Jack said when he was in the Marines and they had to do survival exercises out in the middle of nowhere (forage, etc), he would boil pine needles and it was really satisfying. He said if we do that, you can add a touch of sugar to taste and it tastes like a very mild lemonade (didnt taste like that to me...tasted very sweet without any sugar...nice flavor!
Here are the two precautions:
1. Make sure you identify the tree properly. It HAS to be a pine. Don't take chances if you're not sure, because there are evergreens (don't remember which) that are poisonous. And also make sure it's not in an area that has been sprayed with any sort of poisons or has poison ivy/sumac/oak growing anywhere nearby.
2. Though I LOVED this (I'd drink it every day if I could), I can't drink it till I'm, ohhhh, older. Seems that there's some strong anecdotal evidence that pregnant and nursing mothers should probably steer clear of it, as well as anyone who might be pregnant at any point...the tea is said to cause miscarriages within a very short time (hmmm...) if drunk while pregnant. Since we'd welcome a baby at ANY time were I able to have one, I'd just as soon play it safe in that department. But you can bet I'll be drinking it when I'm older. A nice and pleasant surprise :)