Just kidding. This is a jar full of Douglas fir tips, for tea, after a trip through the dehydrator. I tried drying them on the table top, but it’s been so cool and wet, there was almost no change after three days. So I popped them in the dehydrator and let it run until they were thoroughly dry. Now they’ll last for as long as we want, although I have to admit we’ll probably go through this jar before long. Another bonus is that, at least to my taste, tea made from the dried version tastes even better than fresh. It seems to mellow the Christmas tree scent and amplify the citrus flavors. The kids like it with a little honey.
I think we’ll need to go pick another batch or two to make sure we have enough for ourselves, and if we have time, maybe more to give as winter gifts. Gotta hurry, though, the tips are growing out rapidly. I can already feel the acceleration of time that always starts as the days get longer. Seems like we should have more time now, but as always, the longest days of the year pass fastest. Enjoy ’em.
I learned about fir tip tea from Nikki McClure, the fantastic artist who did the cover and chapter illustrations for Closer to the Ground. We did a book event together at the Olympia Library in January, and she brought and brewed this tea for the whole crowd. I was amazed at the flavor–it smells like Christmas trees, but the taste is completely unexpected: Lemony, bright and almost sweet. Delicious. It’s also packed with Vitamin C and other nutrients, and though it lacks caffeine, I felt a distinct, refreshing uplift from sipping it.
So we’ve been waiting for the new growth to pop on the Doug firs around the Island, and this last week of warm, sunny weather did the trick. Of course, you have to find firs with branches you can actually reach, so Skyla and I walked down our road yesterday evening, looking for small trees or ones with boughs hanging down.
We found plenty and picked about a pound, making sure not to take too many from any one tree–it is the year’s new growth we’re harvesting, after all. It’s a fun and relaxing way to spend an hour or two, and Skyla and I had a great time chatting and picking the soft, bright-green tips. Now we’re drying them to store the spring flavors and nutrients for later, but I think we’ll need to pick more in the coming weeks. And on that note, I’m headed into the house to brew up a cup now.