In the midst of winter, it is far too easy for us to begin to feel out of touch with our natural surroundings – we fall into a sort of hibernation, forgetting how it feels to connect with the great outdoors. But there are countless ways to get out and make the most of winter despite the chill; snowshoeing through Gatineau, cross country skiing, or simply just going for a quick wander through the woods to clear our heads. In the summer we find nature abundant with offerings of wildflowers and foliage as far as the eye can see, but this remains the case in winter as well as long as you seek it. The Evergreen tree stands just as strong and as full of life and colour as it did back in the warmer months; a constant figure in the ebb and flow of the seasons. The deep green of its tips remind us that spring will inevitably come again… soon, but for now we must enjoy the beauty that comes along with each and every season.
It’s March – we’ve made it – the days are getting longer and we can nearly taste the hint of spring in the air. We begin to stretch out our arms and legs and shake off the sleepiness of winter. We begin to take more hikes and notice nature beneath the melting snow; it’s been here all along under its cozy blanket of white. One of our favourite things to do this time of year is to gather some fresh pine needles from our adventures and make a warm pot of tea! It is packed with Vitamin C and contains so many healing properties such as boosting your immune system – just be careful! Not ALL pines are consumable for us so make sure to observe carefully. All pines are evergreens but not all evergreens are pines. Here’s our personal favourite recipe;
Freshly Foraged Pine Needle tea with local honey
You will need:
• About a handful of freshly picked needles (you can use fresh or keep them to dry for future use). Wash well with warm water before using and remove the little brown bits from the base.
• One tablespoon of Radical Homestead local honey (emphasis on the local component! Using honey from your region can be very beneficial in so many ways).
• One lemon
• A tea pot or paper filter
Roll the lemon between your palms to get the juice flowing – then cut it in half and hand-squeeze the juice of half the lemon directly into the bottom of your pot. Thinly slice the second half to garnish your drink with later on.
Using a tea pot with a strainer, or a paper sachet, place your pine needles inside so that they do not float loosely in the water – this simply makes it easier to drink without having them slip into each sip! Boil your kettle and pour over the pine making sure it is all evenly saturated, then cover with lid to lock in the aroma and allow to steep for 3-5 minutes (depending on desired strength).
While steeping, prepare your favourite cup with ideal amount of honey and then pour brewed tea over the honey to melt and mix it in.
Stir well and then top with your slice of lemon. Get cozy with a good little book and enjoy!
Here’s a shot of our Pine Needle tea in the wild! Nothing like a hot pot of tea after a hike up to the Eagle’s Nest to enjoy the sunset!
Let us know if you try this at home – play around with it and have fun, perhaps try adding a little fresh mint or rosemary? Maybe even a stick of cinnamon? Post a photo of your tea on Instagram with the hashtag #GBCpineneedletea so we can see your lovely results!