This recipe is derived from an Algonquin recipe that I found in a few places and adapted. It pays homage to the hickory as its star (with birch, pine, and maple as delightful support characters). Its a perfect drink for Samhuinn, and as the weather grows cold, the plants die off, and the days become dark. It tastes…like nothing else you’ve ever experienced. Slightly piney, slightly minty, very nutty, slightly sweet….all the good flavors in a kind of “tree chai”. I served this at our grove’s Samhuinn ceremony and it was very well received!
I’ve also found this brew to be a most excellent energizing, clearing, and grounding drink. If I’m feeling a bit schizophrenic, trying to balance the demands of the consumerist world that I inhabit and my own spiritual connection to the land (that is being destroyed by that consumerist world), this brew brings me back to where I need to be. It gives me inner peace and grounds me, healing me. This beverage is particularly uplifting if I’m having a difficult day, in need of healing, etc. I think its because it has so many good trees with different energies, and they are very balancing. Nature is always a wonderful healer.
1. Obtain your ingredients. For about 6 cups of this brew, you’ll want a handful of white pine needles (without branches), a 6 or so black birch twigs (dried or fresh is fine; I’m using dried cause they are rare around Michigan but bountiful in PA where I gather them when I see my family), hickory nuts (about a cup and a half) and maple syrup (or honey/sugar if you don’t have any). If you don’t have access to any of these ingredients, you can omit them (except the hickory). You can also substitute wintergreen berries or leaves for the black birch and hemlock needles (the tree, NOT the plant) for the pine. But in most Midwestern forests where hickory grows, you should be able to find these.
2. Crush up your hickory. You want to take the outer shell off of your hickory (its usually in four or five pieces, easy to peel once the nut dries out for a week or so after it falls from the tree). To make the brew, you want to crush up your nuts (inner shell and all) with a hammer and then throw them into a pot.
3. Add the rest of the ingredients (except maple). Break up your black birch a bit and add your white pine needles to the mix. Add about 6 cups or so of water (more if you want it weaker, less if you want it stronger). I’m making a fairly large batch here, so I added some extra hickory nuts. Extra nuts are always good!
4. Boil for 30-40 minutes. Let the alchemical fires transform your ingredients into a sacred, magical brew. You’ll start to smell it, and then the water will eventually get cloudy as the hickory releases its magic into your tea. The longer you boil it the stronger it tastes. Its really good. You’ll also notice little oil droplets on the top of the brew–these are from the oil in the hickory nuts, and are full of good nutrients.
5. Strain into cups, add maple syrup to taste, and enjoy! Enjoy one of the most delightful and unique beverages you’ll experience. Use it as a sacred, magical drink for many purposes and share it with friends.