Taoist legend cites the elixir of long-lived sages as pine needle tea. Today's understanding of antioxidants adds credence to this custom. The tannin in both pine bark and needles is a superior antioxidant. Retarding oxidization reduces cell deterioration and thus helps counter the normal aging process as well as chronic and degenerative illnesses.
As removing bark injures a tree, collect only pine needles. Any species of pine or fir tree will do and each has their characteristic flavor. Pluck fresh pine needles from near the tree trunk. (Removing needles from branch tips may impair growth and newer needles contain less tannin.) Do not harvest from trees that have been exposed to chemicals or that are situated near roadway traffic.
Pine tea has a light piney aroma and a refreshing, round flavor. Use about 2 tablespoons pine needles per serving. Rinse needles. Place the needles in a heat-proof container and add boiling water. Cover and infuse for 5 minutes. Strain out and discard the pine needles. Drink hot or cold.
Variation: Augment green or herbal tea infusions with pine needles.
May you be well nourished.
(Reprinted with the kind permission of Rebecca Wood, from her wonderful website)
Rebecca Wood, who learned gardening and foraging techniques from her grandparents and studied with leading experts in macrobiotics and traditional Oriental medicine, has taught and written about a sustainable diet since 1970.
Her book, The Splendid Grain, won both a James Beard Award and a Julia Child/IACP Award. Her most recent book, The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia, was a One Spirit Book Club (Quality Paperback Book division) main selection. Rebecca has been an educational consultant to numerous organizations in the natural foods industry and currently offers cooking classes for Eden Foods throughout the Western region. She co-founded and directed the East-West Center in Boulder, Colorado, and has established several cooking schools. She currently teaches cooking classes from her home kitchen in Ashland, Oregon.
Rebecca offers a variety of services. To schedule an appointment, check out Rebecca's wonderful website for more information, articles, recipes and books. Each month new recipes and articles are posted.