Pine Needle Tea for Flu?

Pine Needle Tea for Flu?

Decades ago, I was helping a man who had a bad case of flu, the upper respiratory kind. “I need pine top tea,” he insisted. “How about some Nyquil?” I asked, never having heard of pine top tea. Don’t they get turpentine from pine trees? Turpentine doesn’t sound very healing.


But no, his Native American grandma made it when the kids had a cold and nothing else would do. So I got some green pine needles, made tea, added a little lemon and honey and he drank it. Couldn’t hurt, right? He recovered, but I figured he would have recovered anyway. I could see where any tea with lemon and honey would sooth a sore throat.

Now I find that pine tea has five times the vitamin C as orange juice, is loaded with antioxidants and lots of good stuff. White pine is good, and easily identifiable because it has five clusters of needles per hub. I set out looking for some, but only found Longleaf pine, so freakin’ tall I could only reach one branch on these one hundred acres. Turns out Longleaf pine is fine. Pine identification information is readily available online.

I found lots of eastern red cedar-but is it toxic? In gallons it could be, (so can aspirin) but by the cup no, and it has the same good properties. Plenty of red cedar here and it grows low and bushy. I just made some…Not bad, a little tart, not as piney as I thought. I think it would be refreshing chilled on a hot day.

Obviously, you wouldn’t drink this if you were allergic to piney things. Very few piney things are off limits: Ponderosa, Monterey, and lodgepole pine are reported to be toxic, and also Norfolk island pine, balsam fir, and yew. These are not all actually pines and a type of yew growing wild in this north Florida jungle is not only drinkable, but loaded with antioxidants and contains caffeine. But that’s a topic for another day.

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