A small, slow-growing tree, up to 20 meters tall and 25 centimeters in diameter. It often has a characteristic cluster of branches at the top forming a club or crow’s nest.
Spruce tips are harvested in the springtime, as soon as the long papery brown casings open up to reveal lime-green bright buds. During this time they’re the most tender, and their resiny flavor is minimal. They are the most tasty when they are between 0.5″ – 1.5″ long. Spruce tip buds when collected young produce a light lemony flavoured herbal tea. Since not all evergreen trees new growth are edible, it is vital that experienced foragers can identify the edible spruce.
We use tree planting bags for lots of our harvesting, they are an excellent way to keep your hands free and your body mobile. Food grade plastic containers fit perfectly inside each pouch, and can be easily cleaned between use. The lids can be stored in the rear pouch, as well as your lunch and other bushcraft gear.
Many Native American cultures chewed gum made from the resin of numerous spruce species. We also harvest the Black Spruce Resin/Pitch and sell the Grade A as a chewing gum.
Yukoners prepared a beer by boiling the buds of one or more species of spruce, and it was used as a tuberculosis remedy.
In Quebec, the French discovered through the Algonquin people that the spruce tip trees possessed powerful antiscorbutic properties. When the French settlers arrived in North America, they suffered during the winter severe bouts of scurvy (Vitamin C deficiency), whereas the Natives never experienced this problem. The Native Americans soon taught the French about spruce tip infusions, which they drank throughout the day without showing symptoms of scurvy.
Why Drink Spruce Tea, What Are It’s Benefits:
Vitamin C is abundant in spruce needles – herbal infusions of dried spruce tips are excellent sources of Vitamin C. Spruce tips are also excellent to break up lung congestion when used in a tea, steam, or as a wild food. Medicinally, spruce’s antiseptic properties are said to help with pneumonia, whooping cough, and croup.
A brew of Spruce tip tea is excellent for soothing sore throats and easing respiratory problems. You can also use a salve for topical applications including rashes, bug bites, and wound healing.
How to Make Spruce Tip Tea:
The citrusy flavor of spruce tips complements an infusion well.
Bring a kettle of water to a boil and pour it over the Spruce needles. A light, woody aroma will emanate from the pot.
As the extreme heat produced by boiling destroys the vitamin C in the spruce, it is important to avoid boiling the twigs and needles directly in the pot and instead steep them.
Allow the tea to steep for 10 to 15 minutes, and then adjust the flavor with raw honey and lime juice. Here at Laughing Lichen we refrigerate it and drink it as lemonade on hot summer days.
There will be a very clear appearance to the tea. This is normal. The needles don’t color the tea, since they contain little pigment. Nevertheless, the spruce tips will give the tea its special lemony flavor and aroma.
Fresh spruce tips are soft and chewy, so you can eat them raw, but they taste best cooked or pickled. As they mature, the tips become bitter and can no longer be eaten. Lemony flavors in Spruce tips complement seafood nicely when used as stuffing or in a sauce. The tips are also used as a citrus accent in beer.
Each batch of this flavorful spruce tip tea is crafted in small batches at our remote “off-the-grid” wilderness facility located deep in the Northwest Territories boreal forest. Our entire facility is run using solar energy. This ensures that the air-drying of the collected herbs is done in a location far from any pollutants or contaminations. All of our harvesting locations are in pristine virgin forests (old-growth), as here in the Northwest Territories of Canada, there has been very little development or natural resource activity over the years.
When dried, which is how we sell them, spruce tips have a fantastic shelf life. Keeping them away from the light will prevent them from becoming too dry.
The above information is for educational purposes only. The information provided is not meant to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any health condition. It is strongly recommended that you consult with a healthcare provider before use of any new product especially if you are using medication, have a pre-existing health condition, are pregnant or breastfeeding.