Tree Teas and Edibles
- The perfect cup of pine needle tea is a very enjoyable and nutritious experience, and available any time of the year. Some like the taste of one pine over another, and some of us cannot tell the difference between them. Be sure to collect your needles from trees growing well away from road sides where they may be subject to constant vehicle exhaust, road salts, maintenance chemicals and weed sprays. Also, keep away from possible dump sites and dangerous locations Gather a good handful of fresh young pine needles.
- Rinse the needles with water if you like.
- Chop the brown ends off and the rest of needles into small pieces, then bruise with a spoon for more flavor.
- Place the chopped pine pieces in a cup.
- Bring 8 to 10 ounces of water to a boil, and then promptly remove from heat.
- Pour the hot water over the needles in the cup.
- You can cover the cup with a saucer if you wish. This will hold in more of the essential oils, but take longer to cool.
- Allow the tea to steep until the needles turn a dull green and sink to the bottom of the cup, or overnight.
- The photos show a cup of white pine needle tea from start to finish.
- Depending on the type of pine needles used, your tea can be clear, or a light golden brown to reddish brown.
- Add sweetener of your choice, cream, or lemon, to your liking.
The bright green needles will float to the surface of the water.
- You can add dried orange peels and/or spices for a more exotic flavor
It is amazing what a simple cup of tea can hold. You can add a couple of cups of pine needle tea to your bath water for a refreshing and skin nourishing treat. We should all start our day with a nice cup of pine needle tea! You can step outside and gather a handful, or buy the prepared pine needle tea bags at a health food stores. Just one cup could help us feel better by enriching and healing our bodies with a little hug from Mother Nature.
08 Tuesday May 2012
According to the Manataka American Indian Council, pine needle tea is a centuries-old healing remedy for Native Americans. When European settlers came to the continent and were suffering from scurvy due to lack of vitamin C, the Native Americans introduced them to pine needle tea. Today, Native Americans still drink pine needle tea to treat coughs and colds.
Pine needles are probably not the first thing you think of when you hear the word tea. But its been around for ages. The tea has a pleasant smell and taste.
Pine needles are rich in Vitamin C and also bring relief to conditions such as
This is the perfect tea to drink during the winter months. The type of tree ideal for pine tea is the White Pine.
- heart disease
- varicose veins
- kidney aliments
- improve eyesight
- mental clarity
- increases your strength and vitality
- helps in reversing or slowing the aging process. Pine needle tea was used by Taoist priests to promote longevity
The smaller needles tend to be sweeter but its not that much of a difference. You need to wash the needles thoroughly before making the tea. Run water over them until they are clean then put the needles in a tea pot.
The amount of vitamin C is reported to be five times the amount found in a lemon, which is 83.2 mg, according to NutritionData web site. That means a cup of pine needles would yield more than 400 mg per cup of brew. Vitamin C is an antioxidant and an immune system booster. It also improves cardiovascular system functions, improves skin and eye health, which alone accounts for many of the positive results from using the tea, such as a cure for scurvy.
Pine needle tea is high in fat-soluble vitamin A, an antioxidant beta-carotene, which is needed for healthy vision (especially in low light situations), skin and hair regeneration, and red blood cell production! The vitamin A explains a few more of the nutrition and health claims, but certainly not all of them. There is more to the tea than just vitamins A and C. There are many components to consider with swallowing a cup of pine needle broth!
Scientists are exploring the health and nutrition claims for pine tree foods that have been consumed for hundreds of years, such as the needles, bark, nuts (seeds), pollen, and resin (sap). So far, they have found enough information to back up the medicinal claims with the potential for more uses. The following list is only a sampling of the research being examined.
Documents contained by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, section PubMed.gov., pertaining to pine needle extract, or tea, and the research being done:
- Chemical composition of essential oils from needles and twigs of balkan pine (Pinus peuce grisebach) grown in Northern Greece. An investigation finds many components in the oil extracted from twigs and needles.
- Comparison of methods for proanthocyanidin extraction from pine (densiflora) needles and biological activities of the extract. Proanthocyanidins are flavonoids with fantastic properties: antioxidant, antidepressant, antibacterial, antiviral, antitumor, anti-inflammatory, immune system-boosting, cardiovascular-protecting, triglyceride-reducing, and more. This report may confirm all the claims that pine needle tea can help ease, if not cure, most anything.
- Flavor compounds of pine sprout tea and pine needle tea. A report found 55 flavor compounds in pine sprout tea, and 29 flavor compounds in pine needle tea.
- Plasma triglyceride-decreasing components of pine needles. Components extracted from pine needles using a vinegar solution are believed to reduce triglycerides.
- Effect of new polyprenol drug ropren on anxiety-depressive-like behavior in rats with experimental Alzheimer disease. An extract from spruce and pine needles has potential as a treatment for depression, anxiety, and dementia.
- Efficacy of anise oil, dwarf-pine oil, and chamomile oil against thymidine-kinase-positive and thymidine-kinase-negative herpesviruses. The three essential oils listed were highly effective against herpesviruses!
- Antioxidant, antimutagenic, and antitumor effects of pine needles (Pinus desiflora) This study found that pine needle extract could potentially be used for cancer prevention!
- Documents contained by J-Stage (Japan Science and Technology Information Aggregator, Electronic)
- Effects of Pine Needle Extract on Differentiation of 3T3-L1 Preadipocytes and Obesity in High-Fat Diet Fed Rats. Pine needle extract could help control obesity.
- Article from the Kennebec Journal: Maine Today Media White pine needles help fight disease. A batch of pine needle tea yields shikimic acid which is the basis for “Tamiflu,” one of the drugs recommended by the CDC to fight the flu.*********************************************************************
Pine Tea--Conifers (Pinus strobus and Pinus resinosa in particular) provide year round goodness that includes 136mg of vitamin C per one cup of pine needles. Pine needles also contain vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, and sodium. If this isn’t enough, they also contain polyphenols, physterols and carotenoids and this makes pine tea a potent antioxidant health brew. The white pine (eastern and western) is so nutrient-rich it truly is a hard act to follow in the winter months for nutrients.
The most common spruce trees are the White Spruce (Picea glauca) and the Black Spruce (Picea mariana) and the needles, pitch, tips and twigs all can be used to make an herbal tea (and spruce beer too). This tea however should be avoided if you are pregnant. Spruce has vitamin C, beta carotene, starch, and sugars.
Balsam fir needles and twigs make a tea and like most trees mentioned in this blog, can be dried and ground into flour. Making a paste with this and water is survival food that will keep you alive. Balsam fir has vitamins C, B1, B2, B3, calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, beta carotene, protein and fibre.
Small twigs and bark from the birch tree makes a tea, although not exciting in flavour (rather bland), it does provide some nutrients. Vitamins B1, B2, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese and zinc is found in most birch trees. They appear in higher quantities in the syrup (can be tapped like a maple tree in the spring). White birch trees also contain betulinol, glycosides, flavonoids, saponins, sesquiterpenes, and tannins.
Chaga grows on birch trees; this is the healing process of a damaged birch tree. Chaga is typically found on older birch trees and generally on the east or west side of the tree.
The birch tree also contains a natural sweetener called xylitol. Xylitol was discovered by the Finnish and they began processing the inner bark to make toothpastes and mouthwashes. This is the main sweetener found in natural gums purchased in health food stores worldwide. Some research indicates that xylitol kills bacteria and reduces cavities.
The American Beech tree (Fagus grandifolia) grows in many areas and the twigs can be used to make tea. I’ve not been able to confirm the nutrient content of this tree however extract of the Beech tree is known to promote cell health.
Tamarack (Larix laricina) is a member of the pine family and it is the only coniferous tree that loses its pine needles in the autumn. The bark is generally used to make tea and is said to be best in the autumn after the needles have fallen off or in the spring. Small branches can be used as well. The Tamarack contains vitamin C.- Most trees also have medicinal qualities as well as nutrition. For example, the Tamarack is an anti-inflammatory, an astringent, disinfectant, diuretic, expectorant, immune stimulant, a laxative, and a tonic.
Oak treeOaks are classified into two main groups: red and white. They are large trees with alternate leaves and acorns as their fruit. All parts of the oak are edible, though they are often bitter because of the tannic acid. White oak acorns usually taste better than red. Soak the acorns for several days to remove the bitterness or boil them for 20 minutes. Pour off the water and eat them raw, grind them into flour or roast them. Oak (Acorn) - [genus Quercus various species]Oaks are found in temperate regions throughout the northern hemisphere, producing nuts called Acorns. These were a major food resource in Europe and Asia from prehistoric times almost to the modern age, particularly in Iberia, but also in Greece, Japan and Korea. They have since fallen out of use in most of both Europe and Asia, but in Spain they are still very important as feed for the pigs that produce that country's famous hams. Koreans still make an edible jelly (dotorimuk) from acorn flour, and also noodles (dotori gooksoo). Photo © i0056
Acorns have always been important to the indigenous peoples of North America, particularly in California where tribes engaged in extensive forest management to assure a steady supply. Some tribal groups still prepare acorns for soup and porridge, both as a normal family food and to acknowledge ancestral traditions.
Acorns do not appear in your nut bowl because most are very bitter and somewhat toxic, except to pigs. They must be chopped, pounded into meal or ground into flour and soaked in running or frequently changed water to leach out tannic acid. They are edible when the soaking water no longer becomes colored.
Another important culinary use for oak is wine corks, made from the bark of the Cork Oak (Quercus suber). Without this bark Champaign would not have been possible and wine would be difficult to keep long enough for proper age.
Sea Grape is a tree that can grow up to 40 feet tall and has spreading branches and thick heart-shaped leaves. It is found in the tropical or warmer regions of the country, usually by coastal areas. The green grapes grow in clusters and can be eaten raw or made into a jam.Mulberry fruitRed Mulberry trees are dense and busy, reaching a height of 50 feet. The tree is deciduous and the leaves are ovate with tips that are pointy. The purple to red fruits appear spring through autumn and can be eaten raw or cooked. You can also store the berries and eat them days later.Hackberry barkHackberry trees can reach a height of 30 feet. The bark is gray and ridden with warts and ridges. The tree will bear small, round berries that fall to the ground as they ripen. The berries that fall to the ground are edible.
Read more at Trails.com: Wild Edible Trees in the Southern States | Trails.com http://www.trails.com/list_6643_wild-edible-trees-southern-states.html#ixzz2nPv71qVm
Chestnut - [genus Castanea, various species]
This common nut is notable for being starchy rather than oily, so it is used quite differently from other nuts. These nuts were a major food item in parts of Europe, particularly in Spain, but in the late 1700s blight wiped out vast chestnut forests resulting in famine. While they have been largely replaced by potatoes for general sustenance, many recipes still call for them.
The American Chestnut which once dominated our deciduous forests was almost totally wiped out in the early 1900s by blight from Asia. Efforts to develop an American variety with Asian resistance to the blight are said near success. Meanwhile, nearly all chestnuts sold in the North America are imported from Europe, China or Korea. Details and Cooking. Photo by Fir0002/Flagstaffotos distributed under license GNU Free Documentation License v1.2 only. Here is the only way I've found that works well enough to be useful. The theory of this method is that the outer surface of the nut becomes hot enough long enough for the endocarp to loosen, but the center was so cold it isn't yet hot enough to become crumbly. The nut holds together well enough to peel. The core temperature does have to be high enough so the nut doesn't cool too fast from the inside out. In other words, timing is critical.
Yield: 11-1/4 ounces of large Chinese chestnuts, with no loss from mold, yielded 7-7/8 ounces peeled edible (70%).
- Score nuts just through the outer shell (as all instructions tell you to do). My prep knife has an extremely sharp, rigid point, so I hold the nut to my cutting board, scar side down, with my left hand. With the right I set the heel of the blade on the cutting board and bring the tip down across the flat side of the nut. Special chestnut scoring knives are available on the Internet (they look like tiny linoleum knives).
- Freeze them solid in the freezer compartment, preferably overnight to be sure.
- Bring a large pot of water to a high boil over your hottest burner (large so the temperature drop is limited when adding nuts).
- Working with less than 1 pound at a time pour frozen nuts into the boiling water. Keep over highest flame. For small nuts 8 minutes, for large nuts maybe 10 minutes. Scoop them out of the water into a bowl all at once. Keep the water at a boil.
- Start peeling as quickly as you can hold the nuts (this is best done by someone with hands accustomed to hard work, thus tough skin and strong fingernails). As soon as they cool enough to be comfortable to handle, the endocarp will start sticking down and be difficult to peel.
- Toss one nut back in the boiling water and give it a minute to get hot. Scoop it out and toss in another. Chill the hot nut under cold running water for 1/2 second, just enough so you can handle it. Peel as fast as you can. Repeat.
- If you see any sign of mold (blue-green spots) or rot (black spots) while peeling, discard immediately and go to the next nut. You can often smell mold before you see it.
- When all are done, it's time to boil up the next batch.
- When all the nuts are peeled, they still will be less than fully cooked, so give them another 10 minutes in boiling water or cook fully by some other method.
Hazelnut / Filbert - [genus Corylus, C. avellana (Common Hazel), C. maxima (Filbert)]
Hazelnut species are found throughout the northern hemisphere and all produce edible nuts but only the two listed above are in commercial production. Both are native to southeastern Europe and southwestern Asia. What's the difference? The leafy cover of filberts is much longer than the nut and is reddish in color. The largest producer of hazelnuts by far is Turkey with Italy second. The largest U.S. producer is Oregon state, but recent large plantings in California are coming on-line.
The photo specimens show shelled nuts (front), nuts in shell (middle) and nuts still in the leafy husks (involucres). Those in the husks are a rather elongated variety compared to the other shelled specimens and were probably grown in California.
Walnut Family - [family Juglandaceae.]
Native to the temperate zone of the Northern Hemisphere, several members of this family are of considerable culinary interest for their nuts. All these fall into two genera, Juglans (Walnuts) and Carya (Hickory). These trees are all also of great value for their wood. The tree is highly valued both for its nuts and for very useful hard wood.
Kernels of this nut are much used in baked goods particularly during the winter holidays. They are also eaten fresh, mostly in nut mixes, and are pressed for a flavorful cooking oil. The photo specimens were 1.6 inches long, 1.4 inches diameter and weighed about 1/2 ounce with a nutmeat yield of 1/4 ounce. This will vary depending on freshness. In the shell these nuts will last several months but slowly lose flavor. When purchasing, check for rancidity. Walnuts may have important medicinal value. They are being studied for reducing the effects of saturated fats on arteries, as a treatment for insulin-dependent diabetes and for treatment and prevention of Alzheimer's disease.
Butternut - [White Walnut, Juglans cinerea]
Native to eastern North America from Ontario to Alabama and west to Minnesota and Arkansas, this tree is now considered endangered in many areas due to a fungal disease. The oily nuts are used mainly in baking and candies. The wood is used for furniture and woodcarving, and the nut hulls were formerly used to dye cloth a color between light yellow and dark brown.
Pecan - [Carya illinoinensis] Native to North America from Illinois south through Texas and into Mexico, these nuts are most grown in Georgia, followed by Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma. They did not become a commercial crop until the 1880s and few are yet grown outside the United States. Pecans are often eaten fresh but are also used in cooking, mostly for pies and sweet deserts. The shells are very thin, so the attractively shaped meats are fairly easy to remove without breaking, are often used decoratively.
These will keep for several months in the shell, kept in a cool dry place, but flavor will slowly decline. The largest photo specimen was 2 inches long, 0.88 inch diameter and weighed 0.3 ounce with a nutmeat yield of 0.16 ounce.
Shagbark Hickory - [Carya ovata]
There are about 20 species of Hickory, most in North America but some in China and Indochina. The nuts of most hickory trees are too bitter for human consumption but many animals depend on them.
The nuts of the Shagbark, have excellent flavor and are much liked by those to whom they are available. These nuts are not produced commercially because the trees produce too seldom. The bark is also used to flavor a sugar syrup to make it more like maple syrup. Photo by Pollinator distributed under license Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic.