White pine needles contain vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium and sodium. They also contain polyprenols, phytosterols and carotenoids, making a mighty antioxidant brew.
White and black spruce needles have a high vitamin C, beta carotene, starch and sugar count. They’re harsh-tasting, though, and not one of my favourite in the winter. I prefer the new tips in late spring.
Balsam Fir Tea
Balsam fir has vitamins C, B1, B2, B3, calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, beta carotene, protein and fibre. It makes a good and nutritious broth.
Yellow Birch Tea
My all-time favorite. Small twigs boiled up have a strong winter green taste. It also contains vitamins B1, B2, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese and zinc. White birch also contains betulinol, glycosides, flavonoids, saponins, sesquiterpenes and tannins but has a very bland taste. Research shows that birch contains xylitol, which kills bacteria and reduces cavities. Maybe chewing on a twig throughout the day isn’t a bad idea.
Chaga is a fungal growth that grows on mature birch trees and is an amazing find if you spot it. It fights cancer, helps the immune system, aids the digestion system, acts as a longevity tonic, a DNA-shielding agent and reduces stress. It also makes a nice, strong tea. Best when dried first and chopped up into a powder.
The fruit (rosehip) of the plant is the best part and hangs on the plant through the winter. It can be eaten raw or dried for later use. Only eat the outer shell of the rosehip and not the hairy seed cluster.
This is the tea of the north. It’s found in sphagnum swamps across the northern United States and Canada. The leaves are dried and boiled. To cut the strong acidic taste, try adding a spoon of brown sugar and a shot of liqueur. The leaves stay on all winter long.
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