One of my favorite remedies for a spring cold is a hot mug of wild picked Douglas fir tip tea. You can also pick the spring tips (new growth) off of pine, spruce, and hemlock trees for your tea. I use Doug fir since we have so many Douglas fir trees on our property. We even have one within reach from our back deck, and that is the one I made this tea from when I was recently hit with a nasty little spring cold. I am pretty lucky when it comes to avoiding most cold and flues that are going around, but I was not so lucky this spring!
To make a cup of fir tip tea all you need is a small handful of tips, hot water, and I like to add in a cinnamon stick and a little honey. As both cinnamon and honey are said to be helpful in fighting a cold too. And the honey can help soothe a sore throat, and cinnamon is credited with being an expectorant.
Each spring soft little bright green tips will emerge from the outer edges of the Douglas fir branches. They will first start out in a tiny little cone shape, and then slowly spread their needles. Below you can see some fresh green tips just emerging from the branches, and above you can see how they look after a week or two when they grow out longer. They are fine to enjoy in either stage, as they are still quite soft and even pleasant to nibble on.
Spring fir tips make a nice cup of tea, but you can also use them as you would a fresh herb. You can mince the tips and add them to shortbread cookies, flavor ice cream with them, make a simple syrup for sodas, or add them to fermented drinks like honey jun soda or kombucha.
Above are the young green tips just emerging and below are some another week or two down the line. On our property right now we have some tips that are already maturing and we also have some trees with tips that are just starting to peak out. April, May, and even early June are the best times to go hunting for fir tips. If the tips at your house are already too mature, then just go up higher in elevation to gather some younger ones.
Below is how I brew my Douglas Fir Tip Tea. Just a mug with 4 to 6 fresh tips, cinnamon stick, hot water, and then let it steep a few minutes, and stir in some raw honey. The tips will eventually dull in color and sink to the bottom as the tea brews.
I learned about making Douglas Fir Tip Tea from a nature walk we did with Dr. John Kallas, and he told our class they are high in Vitamin C, but I have not been able to track down their exact nutrient content per tip. I have read that fir tips are high in Vitamin C from quite a few sources, but haven’t yet found the exact data per serving. If I find the info I will update this post.
If you can’t harvest your own fir tips close to home, you can order White Silver Needle Tea from Mountain Rose Herbs, or order a variety of needle teas from amazon. The red counter top tea kettle I use is this one, which I originally purchased to keep this hot water kettle on my desk at work to make my tea, and we now use it at home daily for tea.
Note: Dr. John Kallas did warn us about overdoing it eating spring tips, as the needles contain a small bit of turpentine, as do all members of the pine family. I may have a couple cups per week in the spring, and drink it daily when I am nursing a bad cold, but I never eat handfuls and handfuls of these powerful tips at one time.
Note: I have read that pregnant women and nursing mothers should avoid making Doug fir tip and pine needle tea.
Note: Be sure you are picking from the right kind of tree, avoid picking and ingesting any needles from the Yew tree, which some have mistaken for a member of the pine family. The Yew tree is toxic to humans.
Douglas Fir Tip Tea (or spruce tip tea)
- 4 to 6 doug fir tips or spruce tips
- 1 1/2 cups hot water
- 1 cinnamon stick purchase here
- optional: a little honey or preferred sweetener
Collect young bright green doug fir or spruce tips that shoot off the tips of the tree branches in the spring.
Add fir tips and a cinnamon stick to a cup. Pour in hot water.
Let tea steep a few minutes. Add in optional honey (or other sweetener).
Relax and enjoy.
Please read my notes above & below before making the tea.
Recipe NotesWarning: avoid picking tips from the Yew tree as the yew tips are not safe for human consumption. Some people confuse the yew tree for a member of the pine family. Be 100% sure you know how to correctly identify a spruce tree or douglas fir tree before picking the tips and making tea.
Warming: it is advised that women how are pregnant or breastfeeding avoid doug fir and needle teas.
To me the flavors in this tree Christmas, summer campfires, and a spring walk in the woods.