This is a recipe from “The Edible Wild” a fantastic book written by Berndt Berglund and Clare E. Bolsby.
Hemlock (Tsuga cadanensis)
As Tea: A very good tea can be made out of young hemlock needles by steeping them in a pot of hot water for about 10 minutes. This tea is a favorite drink among lumbermen.
This is my kind of recipe. Hemlock trees are pretty easy to find in Maine. They easliy identifiable with rough grey/red bark. Their needles grow in two neat rows on either side of the branch. The needles have a distinct groove on top and two white stripes on the underside.
I headed to a small wooded trail near Freeport with my soda can stove and came across some young Hemlock trees. I cranked the stove and steeped a palm full of needles for ten minutes and gave it a crack.
The tea was quite pleasant. The taste was subtle, the flavour fragrant and piney. Like walking through a dense pine forest. I’d be happy to have this as an alternate to my regular brew and I’m glad I have experimented with it, if nothing else to increase my tea options when hiking. “The Edible Wild” is such a good book and it’s given me a ton more ideas for projects. I already started my dandelion wine, more to come on that soon.