Which pine trees are safe for tea?

Most pine trees can be used to make tea with pine needles, but not all of them. There are some that are poisonous or toxic. The ones you should avoid are Lodgepole pine, Monterey pine, Ponderosa pine, Norfolk pine (Australian pine), loblolly pine, common juniper and, although not a pine, yew. Keep in mind that all pine trees are conifers, but not all conifers are pine trees.

Some of these mentioned are known to induce spontaneous abortions in cattle. While there is no documented evidence that pine needles cause spontaneous miscarriages in humans, pregnant women are advised not to ingest pine in any way. They are white pine and oriental hemlock (yes, hemlock is an evergreen tree from the pine family and should not be confused with poison hemlock, which is a plant). There are several species of pine trees that produce adequate tea, but the eastern white pine (Pinus strobus) is one of the trees most commonly associated with pine needle tea, probably because of its superior flavor.

Several studies have been conducted on the nutritional qualities and healing powers of pine needles and bark. Most sources warn of the potential dangers of pine trees such as Ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) and lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta), and cite the possibility of abortion when drinking tea made with these species. Old needles produce stronger, more bitter, and pine-flavored tea, so if you want a smoother, more delicate tea, look for young pine needles that are brighter green in color. The oriental white pine needles in this USDA Forest Service study had between 0.72 mg and 1.87 mg of ascorbic acid per gram of pine needles.

This is an image of me standing next to a white pine tree that has been identified by the five needles on a package. If you're a cow and eat a lot of kilos of Ponderosa pine needles, you have a 5 to 8 percent chance of having an abortion or stillbirth. Boiling it not only destroys vitamin C, but it also releases more terpenes (the organic compounds that make pine smell like pine), making tea appear more like turpentine. Make sure you don't boil pine needles to preserve vitamin C and avoid the release of bitter terpenes.

A few years ago I made a video called Grab It When You Can and as part of that video I talked about pine needle tea. The bottom line is that vitamin C is important and, during a survival situation, you can get a high concentration of it by making pine needle tea. I have soaked and boiled pine needles and it's always a nice warm drink, especially on a cold night.