How to Make Pine Needle Tea

Hey everyone. Now that we’re beginning to enter the luxurious and windy season of fall, I decided that it was a good time to do a post that will let you warm yourself to the core in these upcoming cold months. In today’s issue of Track Much?, I will show you how to perform the surprisingly simple process of making pine needle tea!

No joke, a 8 year old could probably make it, given proper instructions. This is one of my favorite teas I’ve ever tried, and it is simple to make. If you’re wondering about the taste, I would say just make the tea and try it! But I’ll tell you anyways 😉 . It actually smells like a Christmas tree and I don’t really know how to describe the taste. It tastes like Christmas or pine is really the best I can explain. Towards the bottom of the cup it will taste a little resiny, but if I am correct, that’s where a lot of the vitamins are. This tea is rich in vitamins A and C. If you are bent on it tasting like pine sap and being disgusting, you won’t like it. But if you are willing to be open to a (very) new taste, are willing to not set high expectations, and just accept it for what God made it to be, then you will probably enjoy it 🙂 .

Let’s begin!

Here’s everything that you will need:

  • A handful of pine needles
  • Cutting knife
  • Cutting board
  • 1-1/2 cups of water
  • Small pot
  • Cup, glass, or mug
  • Something to stir with

First, find a small pine tree that is about head hight, preferably young, and has plenty of pine needles. Find some of the younger (light green) pine needles and gather about a handful or so, being careful not to gather too many from one branch. Older ones (Darker green) work as well, but I personally like younger ones better. You can even gather from many different pine trees if you want, but it may taste slightly different than needles gathered from one tree. Please do not gather pine needles from the Yew and the Ponderosa Pine. These are poisonous pines.

Remember, it's not a science. Also, do you want to fully know the test of pine needle tea? Experiment with different amounts of needles, colors of needles, sweeteners, and the amount of water.

Remember, it’s not a chemical equation. Also, do you want to fully know the taste of pine needle tea? Experiment with different amounts of needles, colors of needles, sweeteners, and the amounts of water.

After you’ve gathered the needles, you need to remove the little, brown, papery thing attaching the needle to the branch. Rather than ripping it off, try sliding it off so as to not waste the needle you just spent time to gather. After you’ve removed these, you will want to cut the long needles into anywhere between half an inch to an inch in length pieces. Remember, it’s not a science!! But know that the smaller you cut the needles, the more taste you will get. I like to cut mine into about 3/4 of an inch pieces.

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After that, go ahead and put about 1 and a half cups of water on the stove and once it’s boiling, you can take it off. That’s the temperature I like, but if you like yours less hot, then take it off before it boils. Again, experiment with the hotness of the water to suite your tastes 🙂

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After the water is taken off the stove or fire and no longer boiling, pour it into a glass or mug. Then, gather all the pine needles you just cut into tiny pieces, and put them into the water. Allow them to steep/rest there (undisturbed) for about 4 minutes or so, and then stir it for another 2. When you’re done, most of the pine needles should have sunk to the bottom of the cup.

Ignore the tiny, glass elephant in the middle of the mug :D

It should look something like this when finished steeping and stirring. Ignore the tiny glass elephant in the middle of the mug 😀

After that, if you want to experiment with different sweeteners, feel free to! I don’t sweeten it because I like the regular taste and I don’t want to negate the healing properties of it, but if you just want a good tea, then go right ahead! I don’t know quite how good these would taste, but maybe consider trying stevia, sugar, or honey.

After that last step, there is one more step that remains….

Drink it!

Enjoy!

Enjoy!

I hope you guys liked this post and I DO HOPE that you try it out. If you don’t have pines near you, then that’s ok, but most people have some nearby if they don’t live in the arctic or desert. If you would like to see more posts like this with flour, tea, fritter, and all sorts of other wild recipes, please drop a comment below or send me an email letting me know. I do not believe I am in any shortage of running out of recipes to try, so if you want to see more, then please let me know via email or comment.

Keep calm and track on!

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Introducing the Great: Great Horned Owl!


Hey everyone! Happy Thursday to all! To celebrate this momentous day of the week, I have a very special post!

I’ve found a great horned owl feather!! 😀

great horned owl, nature

Great horned owl feather on top of my nature binder.

I think this is super awesome, (and I think you guys do as well) but besides that fact, this means even more to me than what you guys would think. In case you are a specifications person, the length of the feather is 11 inches. In comparison to a coke bottle, you get how large it really is…DSC00035

I have to say, it was very interesting looking back seeing how the second I identified the feather how much new information I now knew about my woods. Let me show you what I mean…

great horned owl

After researching bird of prey feathers, I came to the conclusion that it was a hawk feather. I kept researching, thinking it was maybe a Cooper’s hawk feather, but after awhile, I became unsure if I was researching the right bird. I decided to research owls next. I was looking at pictures, pointing out how the feathers looked, until all of a sudden, I was looking at the feather I now owned. “Oh my gosh!!” I audibly said. After I said that I had many thoughts going through my head. Among these were: this is awesome, holy crap, that means there are mice in my woods, oh my gosh, and others…

After I calmed down, I went through a mental checklist of what this meant. I’ll show you this checklist that I’ve been trying to complete.

  1. Find direct evidence of mice in my woods.
  2. Find direct evidence of owls in my woods.
  3. Find evidence of mice homes.
  4. Find owl pellets indicating where the owl lives/territory boundaries.

great horned owl

Now, the evidence of mice in my checklist is probably a little misleading to you since I’m talking about great horned owls. However, above I showed you my mental checklist. And I have to say, it was interesting to see how my mind thought after I identified the feather. And the reason I find it interesting, is because I can check off a lot of those points above. Since I have direct proof that great horned owls exist in my woods, that means they have to eat something.  Here is some information that I have copied from All About Birds.org, all credit of this quote to them.

“Great Horned Owls have the most diverse diet of all North American raptors. Their prey range in size from tiny rodents and scorpions to hares, skunks, geese, and raptors. They eat mostly mammals and birds—especially rabbits, hares, mice, and American Coots, but also many other species including voles, moles, shrews, rats, gophers, chipmunks, squirrels, woodchucks, marmots, prairie dogs, bats, skunks, house cats, porcupines, ducks, loons, mergansers, grebes, rails, owls, hawks, crows, ravens, doves, and starlings. They supplement their diet with reptiles, insects, fish, invertebrates, and sometimes carrion. Although they are usually nocturnal hunters, Great Horned Owls sometimes hunt in broad daylight. After spotting their prey from a perch, they pursue it on the wing over woodland edges, meadows, wetlands, open water, or other habitats. They may walk along the ground to stalk small prey around bushes or other obstacles.”

great horned owl

I have seen of that list rabbits, hares, chipmunks, squirrels, bats, cats, crows, and ravens, so there should be plenty for the owl to eat 🙂 .To sum that quote up, I now have indirect evidence of mice and voles in my woods. The reason I know this is because, besides the feather, I also have several sightings in the neighborhood of foxes and coyotes. Foxes and coyotes will also prey upon mice and voles. And I do have the types of biomes/environments that would be able to support mice and voles, so there is a lot of indirect evidence of mice in my woods. Along with that, upon analyzing some (coyote I believe…) scat I came upon one day, I found an extremely small skull next to protruding out of the scat. I didn’t pick it up for obvious reasons, but I think it may have possibly been a mouse skull.

great horned owl

So, after finding the feather, after doing so much animal research, I thought it was cool how my head went, “Oh, I found this feather. That means there’s a healthy mice population, which also confirms my suspicions about foxes in my woods. This also means there are probably several snakes in our woods.” So I just wanted to share that with y’all! This may just be my own conclusion, but the way I thought through that is probably how a biologist would think after finding new evidence of a species he’s been researching. Since I’m in high school I’ve been thinking lately about job opportunities in the future. Field biologist has crossed my mind several times, but I would need to do a lot more research on the job before I came to any conclusions.

All credit goes to WikipediaStephen Oach’s Photography, and the Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum for the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th pictures.

Keep calm and track on!

Clothing Tips for Adventures in the Forest

Yes, I am talking about clothing on a nature blog. However, clothing choices can make all the difference on a camping trip.

Clothing is what will keep you warm on a camping trip. But there are ways to wear your clothing that can help you a lot.

One of the key things that I cannot stress enough is the rule of layers. You should wear layers, rather than one big, bulky coat, that way as you get hot while hiking or what not, you can simply take a shirt or two off. Maybe start with a cotton shirt, then a flannel shirt, then a jacket. Or, cotton shirt, sweater, jacket. Whatever suites your taste. But with a cotton shirt and a coat you take the coat off because you’re too hot, then you get too cold, put the coat back on, and the cycle continues. Or, you can wear layers, still have good insulation, and not have the weight and bulk of a coat. And I’ve noticed that I’m rarely too hot or two cold when I wear two cotton shirts and a jacket.

Also, for those tick-a-phobics (like me), wear light colored clothing. Tuck your pant legs into your socks, and tuck your shirt into your pants. If you wear gloves, tuck your sleeves into your gloves. That way, the tiny little blood-sucking demons are not only standing out as a black speck on your clothes, but they are also having to travel a whole lot longer of a way up to get to some skin. I personally don’t wear light clothing because they are easy to get dirty, but I do tuck my clothing when possible.

Next, if you plan on going in the woods during a rain (I have to say, it is a LOT of fun to do!) do not wear cotton clothing unless you plan on freezing to death. You would literally be warmer wearing no shirt at all then wearing a wet cotton shirt in the rain. At the most, wear very light, airy clothing.

Next, and this may just be personal preference, but for naturalist purposes, moccasins or tennis shoes (bare feet are best if you learn how to fox walk) are much better in the woods than boots. They are not only lighter on your feet, but you can usually have less impact on the landscape and you can be quieter. However, some of you military veterans may prefer good ol’ American boots.

Flannel is a GREAT insulator. Next time you go camping in the fall or winter, get in your sleeping bag wearing as much flannel as you can. You will be shedding layers before you know it. I’ve heard wool is also extremely good survival clothing, but I haven’t used it very much. Feel free to do some experimentation.

So there are some general clothing tips to make your stay in the woods much more pleasurable.

Keep calm and track on!

25 Followers!!

I have reached one of my many goals I set a couple posts back! I have achieved 25 followers! Thank you David from Incidental Naturalist for helping me reach my goal! My next checkpoint is 50 followers, then 100, then 250. But that’s awhile’s away 🙂

If any of you guys would like to check out his blog, his blog is Incidental Naturalist. Just click the text and you will be taken to his blog in a new tab.

Thank you David!

Keep calm and track on!

“Cold” Follow-up

I think there are a few things that can be learned from this quote. ‘What exactly can be learned?’ you’re probably asking. Let’s see what exactly I’m talking about…

“I don’t see how anybody could have a passion for nature without having an equally developed tolerance for the cold.”

— Tom Brown Jr., The Tracker

This quote that I have dubbed “Cold” by the power vested in me (hehe, 🙂 ) has 2 things that we can learn from it. It may seem crazy, but if you pick apart and analyze this quote, there is more truth in it than you would normally realize! So let’s begin!

First off, besides the fact that America’s greatest outdoorsman is saying this, it is simply the cold (no pun intended), hard truth. If you LOVE nature and you’re willing to do anything to have birds eat out of your hand or to see a muskrat emerge from it’s winter hole, then you need to have a good tolerance for the cold. You may want to see an animal from a distance that you can nearly touch it, but if so, are you willing to spend hours lying in the cold? And what exactly do I mean by “lying in the cold?” I mean exactly that. No eating, noise making, talking, or moving for any reason whatsoever, for hours.

Now, I will admit, I am not the best at staying still. It’s not easy. And when you don’t get what you set out to achieve, it can be disappointing. One time I woke up at 05:00, got dressed, ate breakfast, brushed my teeth, got the seed, and by 05:30 I was ready and walking outside. For what you ask? For lying in the dew wet grass for hours waiting for birds to eat out of my hand. By 06:45 it had been light for only about 20 minutes or so. I was getting quite uncomfortable and impatient with the birds, and, regrettably, I got up and moved to a different spot, thinking I could maybe trick the birds into eating if I got closer to them. Nope! Not a single bird came within 5 feet of me for the rest of the morning. I came in around 8:30, and even though I didn’t achieve my goal and I was disappointed, I learned a lot about the birds and what to do for next time.

Second, even if you like nature but you’re content watching animals on TV or you would rather just not watch them emerge from their home from a mere 5 feet away, then you will still have to brave the cold. Most people like camping or hiking if they like nature. And I’m sure those campers do not just not go camping from October to March. That’s half of the year where it’s generally cold, at least in Georgia. It may be more or less so in other states and countries. They brave the cold and most will just simply wear heavier and more insulated clothing. And truthfully, if you are pretty well bundled up, you won’t feel the cold.

So that’s all I have to say. First, if you want to see live animals emerge from their dens, you will have to lay in the cold for hours. Second, even if you just like camping and/or hiking, you will still have to brave the cold. And that’s what can be learned from this quote.

Keep calm and track on!