The main benefit of Cedar tea is common knowledge among the woodsman in the North. When the Europeans first came to North America, they suffered during the wintertime from diseases resulting from a lack of Vitamin C.
Cedar tea had enough Vitamin C to keep them healthy, and was easy to make. Cedar was very easy to find and harvest.
Today, we know about the dangerous properties of Cedar which can be toxic and even deadly if too much Cedar tea is consumed. This article will cover the benefits of Cedar tea as well as overdose warnings and useage amounts. Read on to find out how and where to harvest this sacred tree.
Where Do Cedar Trees Grow?
There are different types of cedar trees: red, white, bay and dozens others (find them on Wikipedia here). They grow in hardiness zones 2 – 9, which is pretty much all of the United States and much of Canada.
Cedar love wet soil and plenty of water, and can withstand full sunlight.
How Do I Harvest Cedar to make Cedar Tea?
Cedar is a sacred tree to many indigenous folk. The Ojibwe (or Anishinaabe) of North America drink Cedar tea to cleanse the body and spirit. They also burn it as incense and lay cedar branches on the hot stones in sweat lodges.
Before harvesting Cedar, you should thank the tree for its wisdom and offering. Take only as much as you and your family will need. Cut the branches of
After cutting the cedar branches, they give tobacco to a nearby cedar tree by burying the tobacco leaves in the earth near the tree. Giving tobacco is a way of thanking and honoring the tree spirit, and it’s important to remember to give tobacco to a different tree than the one which you harvested from.
Cedar leaves, bark, branches and wood can be harvested year-round. The leaves are most aromatic in the autumn, however, when they have the highest oil content.
The bark of cedar trees can be consumed as well, although usually only the branches are used to make Cedar tea.
Cedar Tea Recipe
Be careful not to drink more than one cup of cedar tea per day, and don’t drink cedar tea every day. An average of three cups per week is th right amount to reap the benefits and not build up too many toxins. Remember that cedar tea is medicine! Only drink it when your body needs it.
If you’d simply like some hand-harvested tea, then try Rosehip Tea, which has neither toxins nor overdose warnings.
How to make Cedar tea
- Take 2-3 large Cedar branches (ca. 150-250g).
- Boil in about one gallon (ca. 4 liters) water for ten to twenty minutes.
- Pour out all the water from the first boil. Fill the same pot with the same amount of water (one gallon). Bring to a boil for five minutes, then simmer on low heat for another five minutes.
- Remove from heat, and remove the branches.
After boiling a first time the tea is safe for consumption, because the largest quantities of oil (and dirt) has been removed. Boiling the cedar branches and leaves more than four times leaves you with too weak a substance, which no longer has the desired medicinal effect.
Cedar Bark Tea Recipe
Following the same steps as above, simply use Cedar bark in the tea instead of the branches. You’ll have to boil for 10-15 minutes in step 3, since Cedar bark is so coarse.
Cedar Tea Benefits and Health Risks
Cedar has a high amount of vitamin C, which is a valuable source in the dead of winter. Natives helped early European conquerors (or “settlers”) survive scurvy by giving them cedar tea.
WARNING: NEVER CONSUME MORE THAN ONE CUP OF CEDAR TEA PER DAY.
Depending on which cedar tree you harvest from, its environment and time of year, levels of compounds within can vary. The dangerous substance in cedar is Thujone; in small doses it has no effect and no toxicity, similar to drinking sage tea. In larger doeses, however, it causes damage to brain, kidney and liver cells, causes convulsions, and is lethal.
Cedar, sage, juniper, oregano, wormwood and other mugwort should not be consumed in large doses.
Cedar is absolutely harmless for topical / external use, and cedar oil has proven effective as a natural bug repellant. Please, however, drink cedar tea responsibly and in moderate quantities.