Cedar tea: Not just for explorers

Cedar is healing and cleansing; I love cedar tea any time of year!

Every year at Christmas my siblings and parents engage in a “merry war” (as Shakespeare would say). Mom always wants a clean, easy, convenient faux tree. We always insist on hauling in a wild cedar monstrosity.

Where I grew up, cedar trees are basically weeds. They’re unruly, unkempt, unsightly.

I love them.

Every year we drag Mom out in the cold in quest of the ideal cedar tree. Every year we say it’s the last.

Cedar trees are fragrant, vibrant, hardy evergreens that aren’t exactly known for their elegance or style. However, they also happen to be an important healing plant.

When Jacques Cartier explored North America, scurvy ravaged the expedition. When eventually misery overcame pride, Cartier asked the locals for assistance.

What did they bring? Cedar tea.

According to native legend, the Creator made the cedar tree after watching a man who was always good, kind, and giving. Whoever was sick, poor, or alone, that man would take them in, feed them, and befriend them. When the man died, the Creator turned that man into a cedar tree as token of his goodness.

Cedars have been watching over us ever since.

The Native Americans gave Cartier’s men cedar tea to drink. Thanks to its high Vitamin C content and anti-inflammatory properties, they were healed quickly (or, so the story goes).

Personally, I love cedar tea for its earthy, aromatic flavor. It’s easy to make; just put a few needles in a cup and steep.

My mom, despite her resistance to cedar Christmas trees, has come to rely on cedar tea to balance her hormones.

My parents’ farm is full of cedar. I’ve always loved their red bark, dark needles, and sturdy shape.

If you have cedar in your area you can easily harvest it by snipping the needles a few inches from the end. You can use it right away or let it dry; if you plan to store it long-term, dry it in a cool, dry place for 7-10 days or until it’s brittle. It’s not an every day kind of tea — use it every so often or as a pick-me-up if you feel a cold coming on! As you do, give thanks for the friendly cedar tree, always ready to lend a helping hand.

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