Home / Food /  Spruce Tea with Honey & Lime
Let spruce tea steep for 10 to 15 minutes before adding the honey and lime for a delicious and healthy beverage.

 Spruce Tea with Honey & Lime

Being able to use the resources the earth provides us is a big part of what Earth, Food, and Fire is all about. Everything we need to survive and thrive is naturally provided to us… if we know where to look of course. Being able to grow a garden for your own produce or growing herbs indoors is a great skill to have. On the other hand, foraging for wild food can be just as rewarding, and in certain situations even important.

It’s an aspect of cooking that seems to have been forgotten along the path to modernization, yet it plays such in important role in food security for so many different cultures and communities worldwide. With new types of fruits, vegetables, and other plants being hybridized and created through horticulture every year, it’s easy to forget about the edible plants growing right in your own backyard. This spruce tea recipe is an ideal example of using what the natural world provides for us right at home.

A glass teapot surrounded by various ingredients and filed with spruce tea

Spruce, Fir, and even Pine trees are all edible plants and have a long history of being used as medicinal ingredients in traditional medicine. All of these conifers are exceptionally high in vitamin C and even contain some vitamin A as well as other beneficial compounds. Drinking tea made from the needles and twigs will prevent scurvy in survival situations and was regularly used by Native Americans as a decongestant, remedy for bronchial infections, and even rheumatic ailments.

The inner bark of the trees can be dried and ground into flour and used to thicken soups or incorporated into various breads. While all three types of conifers may be used to brew tea, they all differ slightly in flavour and woodsy-ness, with Pine being the strongest in flavour and Fir the mildest. I find Spruce tea to be the ideal middle ground with a light citrusy earthy note. With a teaspoon of honey and wedge of lime, Spruce tea really is quite delicious.

Make tea with wild ingredients found in your back yard! Click To Tweet

Foraging For Your Spruce Tea

The most important aspect of foraging and eating wild foods is being able to tell the different species apart. Spruce, Pine, and Fir are all fairly similar and you don’t need to fear being poisoned picking one over the other when making your own tea. While the needles do make a delicious woodsy beverage and may be consumed with no ill effect, pregnant and breastfeeding mothers should avoid drinking it, as it can induce miscarriages and early labour. Eating the needles raw can also cause stomach cramps and indigestion and is not encouraged.

Examples of spruce, fir, and pine tree needles and tips how to identify them

Identifying Spruce Trees

The easiest way to identify and differentiate between Pine, Spruce, and Fir is by the needles. While Pine needles are long and grow in clumps of 2 to 5 needles a bunch, Spruce and Fir trees have short needles that are pointy and are attached individually to the branch. Fir needles are softer, flat, and do not grow out from all sides of the branch as spruce needles do. Spruce needles are short and pointy, but are stiffer then Fir and four sided. Spruce needles also grow from all sides of the branch creating a round star shaped effect. An easy way to tell the needles apart is to pick one off and try rolling it between your thumb and index finger. Spruce needles being four-sided will roll quite easily while Fir needles which are flat and only have two sides will not roll so well.

Any time of the year, once you have your tree of choice selected, harvest a few branches of the newest growth (the smallest sections near the tips of the branches). In the spring when trees start producing new growth you can pick the little bright greens buds of needles and use them to make tea as well. This new growth will have the highest concentration of vitamin C and can be almost sweet in flavour. Spruce and Fir tips can be blanched (and even pickled) to be enjoyed as an addition to salads. During Winter when foraging for wild food is scarce, older needles will do, though they will have a stronger and more bitter taste.

Brewing Spruce Tea

Once you have your Spruce needles harvested, take them home or back to your campsite and rinse them with some clear water. This removes any insects that may be hiding in between the needles. Trim the twigs to a manageable size appropriate for your teapot and set them aside. You can even pick just the needles themselves off the branch for an even milder tea. Bring a pot of water to a boil in a kettle or over the fire and once boiling pour over the Spruce. You will immediately smell the light woodsy aroma coming from the pot. It’s important to avoid boiling the spruce directly in the pot and instead steep the twigs and needles as the extreme heat created through boiling will destroy the vitamin C.

Spruce needles steeping ion a glass teapot

Let the tea steep for 10 to 15 minutes and then adjust the flavour with a little raw honey and some lime. It’s the perfect beverage to enjoy out in the woods while on a hike or inside on a cold Winter day. The high concentrations of vitamins, (particularly vitamin C) makes this the ideal tea to help beat colds and flu. Now you may be wondering why is the tea so clear? This is normal, since as the tea steeps you are extracting vitamins and minerals from the needles. The needles have very little pigment in them and do not color the tea. If you let the tea sit for any amount of time it will start to turn a deep amber color as it begins to react with the air around it.

Tried this recipe? Rate the Recipe below, and take a picture and tag me on Facebook & Instagram: @earthfoodandfire . For more from scratch recipes follow me on Instagram & Pinterest

 Spruce Tea with Honey & Lime

Foraging for your own food can be a fun opportunity to connect your kitchen with the outdoor world. Try this easy Spruce Tea recipe, it's loaded with Vitamin C!
Course Beverage
Cuisine Canadian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 1 pot of spruce tea
Author Markus Mueller | Earth, Food, and Fire

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of spruce twigs or needles rinsed
  • 1 tsp raw honey
  • 1 wedge lime
  • 3 cups boiling water

Instructions

  • Steep the spruce needles in hot water for 10 to 15 minutes. Adjust flavoring to taste with the honey and fresh lime.

Tried the recipe? Take a picture and tag me on Facebook & Instagram: @earthfoodandfire . For more from scratch recipes follow me on Instagram & Pinterest


Some of the links in this post lead to affiliate sites through which Earth, Food, and Fire may earn a small commission (at no increased cost to you) should you make a purchase. This allows us to stay online and keep creating awesome content! For more info check the Affiliate Disclaimer All recipes, and opinions are 100% my own.

Related Posts

Please note : We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

6 Comments

  1. I’m an avid tea drinker so I must try this out (as well as the pine and fir versions. Thank you for the history and botany lessons as well!

  2. Wow! These are thing my little brother would talk about at length growing-up. He obsessed over Survivor Man, Into the Wild and the other brave souls who said goodbye to community and lived off the land. When backwoods camping, he, even at 10 would boil up a concoction that we just KNEW was safe from him triple checking all the guides and books he brought along. I will be sending him this post and get his thoughts on it.

    I love seeing and sharing recipes that break the mold 🙂

  3. Wow, I have learned something new today ! I would love to give this a try ! I have a friend who is really into natural remedy and loves tea at the same time. I will for sure share this with her. I think it’s a good Science lesson for my kids too !

  4. This is such a cool idea- thank you for posting about this!! I’ve been wanting to explore the world of wild harvesting, but didn’t have the knowledge or the location (I live in Montreal) to do that. I definitely think this is a good start 🙂 Also, could you please share your knowledge sources? I would like to read more on this!

    • Your welcome! It really is an easy and safe recipe to start your foraging adventures with! Mushroom picking in comparison is a whole different ball game where you can get seriously sick if you make a mistake. The ‘Field Guide to Edible North American Plants’ is a great start as referance material. You can find a link to the amazon listing for the book at the bottom of the post! Alot of the information in this post in regards to identifying the various conifers, is my own knowladge I learned spending countless hours in the woods of Nova Scotia with my father.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*