Saturday, 10 December 2016

braving the cold + pine needle tea

09 / 12 / 2016

The temperatures here are dropping steadily as we approach winter's equinox, hovering around -21ºC for our daytime high (-31ºC with windchill). It's the type of cold that bites your exposed skin as you rush to from one point of shelter to the next, challenging your will to leave the house in the first place. Nevertheless, the girls and I get out. We'll see people walking down the street, meeting at cafes and going about their Christmas shopping in the most breathtaking landscape you can imagine. Truly the fallen snow against the evergreens and prairie brush is the most stunning environment.

The snow forces us to dress warmly and with Patt being away the last three weeks for work, I'm feeling particularly hearty as I shovel our walkways and bundle our children up to go out. What I wonder the most about this cold is "how did the native inhabitants and pioneers do it?" There is so much more skill to living in this environment than I'm remotely aware of, and I'm in awe of the knowledge those people living here long ago possessed. There is so much mystery attached to this land and I hold such a fascination with North American history because of it.

We haven't gone for a nature walk for the past four days, it being so cold that I'm not fond of the idea of taking Louise out. She's walking more when we're out these days, but at nearly 15 months old she'll lose her balance fall over in the new snow, and it really is too cold for her to be stationary in the carrier we have. Nevertheless, yesterday as the children napped in our warm car, I dashed out through the snow (falling in a small tree well along the way!) and grabbed a handful of Ponderosa pine needles. The rosehips we collected earlier this year were finally fully dried out and I've been desperate to mix them and the pine needles to create our own winter tea.

I've become completely enamoured with these "Duckies" shoes (as I've been informed they are called by two east coasters). They are the best shoes I've ever worn! Okay, that might be a stretch, but its been a long time since I've gotten really excited about my shoes, and it makes me laugh a little that I'm feeling this way over rubber footwear.

The needles of a Ponderosa pine are long, fan-like, and grow in groups of three. They contain significantly more vitamin C than lemons and oranges, and are incredible immune boosters and decongestants for the winter time. They are safe for ingestion in humans, though have been known to terminate pregnancies in cattle who eat significant quantities of this pine, so out of precaution pregnant women are warned against consuming Ponderosa pine needles. I chose to make tea with this pine variety after researching material on foraging plants specific to this region by published academics, and by consulting an arborist to help identify this tree.

Isn't this the most beautiful medley of ingredients? The combination of dried rosehips, mint leaves and orange zest with the pine needles is so dreamy. It's recommended that you make the tea with fresh (and preferably young) pine needles, but you can also store the ingredients together in a mason jar for a couple of weeks. Wouldn't this be a lovely hostess gift or a thoughtful Christmas gift?

As I mentioned in a previous post we have been given a lot of honey this year, including this darling little jar and I had to show you. I think this photo makes the jar larger than it is in real life! This is no way a sponsored post, we just really enjoy this local honey. I mixed some in with the tea and the sweetness of the honey along with the fragrance of mint and pine was amazing- Christmas in a cup! Juliette and I kept on exchanging sips of this tea because she loved it so much.

I hope everyone is staying warm as we move forward into the holidays! We're baking (and tidying up like crazy) because Patt will be home soon and our holidays will begin! I'm hoping it warms up a tad, because we're going out to chop down our Christmas tree when he gets back. :)

Pine Needle Tea, with Rosehips


A handful of Ponderosa pine needles, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
5 dried rosehips
1 tsp of dried mint leaves
A pinch of orange zest
1/2 tsp raw, unpasteurized Canadian honey


Combine ingredients in a mug or small tea pot, press with spoon to coax out pine needle oil, then cover in nearly boiled water (boiling water will reduce the amount of vitamin C in the tea.). Steep for 10 minutes, or until the pine needles sink to the bottom of the mug. Stir in honey, sip, and feel your body being warmed and nourished.

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