Sunday, May 15, 2016

Chilcotin Holidays

Spruce Needle Tea


We were on a beautiful hike up the mountain when my friend Beverly asked me about the different kinds of trees around us. As we talked about the Fir, Pine and Spruce, I recalled many of the things I had read in survival books and learned from my father about the different plants and the uses for them. There was always one recurring subject in these lessons: that Spruce needles make an excellent tea for when stranded in the wilderness. It is one of the most nutritious, easily-attainable food sources. Upon remembering this, I was immediately excited about finally trying the infamous Spruce tea. Unfortunately, Spruce is not so easy to find out here because of the dry, sandy environment. But I persevered in my search until at last I found a beautiful young spruce with vibrant, fresh needles. I took only a few small branches from him and happily finished my hike with my friends.

On the ranch, tea is easily the most savored food item. As a result of living in such a remote area, tea runs out quickly, so we all get a little bit stingy about sharing our personal tea supplies. So what happened next was really quite ironic. That evening I brought the needles to the kitchen, rinsed and chopped them, and steeped them in a large pitcher of hot water. Every time another person came in, the first comment was always “Mmm, what’s that smell??” Over dinner we passed the tea pot around and were all amazed at the delicious subtle flavor of the Spruce tea. Later on, many comments were along the lines of “could you make some more Spruce tea again soon?”

Knowing that Spruce was the least abundant conifer in the area, I researched what other evergreens could be used in teas. To my surprise, nearly all made excellent teas. The next evening we had Balsam Fir tea. Equally amazing! The Balsam tea had a surprising citrus quality to it. Now we’ve had both teas a number of times, and next we will try Douglas Fir, which makes up a large majority of the trees around the ranch.

Funny how that works. Here we were all so worried about running out of teas when the best varieties were growing in abundance in our back yard.

Chilcotin Holidays

About Chilcotin Holidays

We are a licensed guide outfitter and we conduct guided wilderness adventures throughout our 5,000 square km operating area. This guide area has been operational since 1880, making it the oldest in British Columbia. More about us HERE.

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