I came up to my favorite backcountry getaway this weekend and just took some time to enjoy the natural world that surrounds me up here. As I drove south on Highway 24 from Minturn to Leadville, the aspen leaves were an explosion of yellows, oranges, and fluorescent greens. I parked my car at the trailhead and hiked in, walking through a healthy pine forest–one that’s luckily avoided the beetle kill that has plagued so many other pine forests here in Colorado.
Green pine trees surround me once I’m at the backcountry cabin I take care of for some friends of friends who have moved away. I hear birds singing in the trees and squirrels chirping out their alarms as I approach.
I got to thinking about these pines–how they’re good for a lot of things when they’re healthy: wood, food, and a yummy treat: pine-needle tea. When I stayed up here during the winter, I melted snow for water, and it always had a sweet pine-needle taste. I’d scrape down into the snow to get the cleanest snow for water, but I’d always gather up pine needles too, since they fall to the ground along with the snowflakes.
Now, I actually enjoy the taste of pine needles. So when I’m surrounded by a pine forest, I can’t resist gathering up some green needles for tea. I add the needles to boiling water once I’ve got it going at full boil, and I let it boil with the water for about two minutes. Then I remove it from the heat to let it stew for a few minutes.
I like to add a bit of honey or agave nectar to my pine-needle tea, which makes it a sweet, hot brew. And…it’s rich in vitamin C, so I guess pine-needle tea could theoretically prevent scurvy, which is good to know, you know…just in case you ever needed to know that.
Want to know more uses for pine needles, branches, bark, and sap?
Read my article on the About.com Survival Skills site:
“Several Survival Uses of Pine Trees”
Pine trees have several survival uses including an edible bark, sticky sap, and needles that can make a vitamin-rich tea or bedding for a makeshift shelter…click here to continue reading…
Photos © Traci J. Macnamara.