Healthy Winter Teas | Karta Purkh Singh Khalsa

Karta Purkh Singh Khalsa   


Healthy Winter Teas

There’s not much that beats a piping hot, delicious cup of tea on a cold winter day. Now that old man winter has us in his icy grip, our thoughts naturally turn to soothing, healing drinks that prop us up during hibernation time.

Tea is the herb preparation of choice if the herbs are mild; it is also usually the least expensive. The two most common methods of tea preparation are infusions and decoctions. For an infusion (leaves and flowers), steep the herb, using a tea bag, tea ball, or loose tea, in water that’s been boiled; for a decoction (roots and barks), simmer the herb for one hour. To enjoy a medicinal beverage tea, or low dose medicinal teas, brew 1-2 teaspoons of crushed dried herb per cup of water.

For convenience, you can make either infusions or decoctions in large “batches” and store them for up to a week in the fridge. They can be drunk cold straight out of the fridge although for certain illnesses a warm (reheated, if necessary) tea is beneficial, such as to reduce chills or induce sweating. Keep the tea in a tightly sealed container, preferably glass.

Too Much Shopping Tea

Gotu kola leaf (Centella asiatica) is the foremost rejuvenating tea in Ayurveda. It perks up your mind and senses and gives you that extra oomph for that one more day of fighting the shopping hordes. Ho shou wu root (Polygonum multiflorum), which has a nice, earthy flavor, has a similar role in Chinese herbalism.

Home Sick Tea

Herbal teas offer a wealth of excellent options for treating these miserable respiratory viral infections. Perspiration-promoting herbs release waste materials and relieve congestion. Peppermint is a classic example. Drink them hot.

Cooling diaphoretics are used to reduce fever and inflammation. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) advises chrysanthemum flower (Chrysanthemum morifolium) and honeysuckle flower (Lonicera japonica), both of which are also strongly antimicrobial and they taste great. Western herbalists turn to boneset leaf (Eupatorium perfoliatum) for that home sick day.

When the main symptom is chills, use warming teas. Try holy basil leaf (Ocimum sanctum), which is favored in Ayurveda for reducing mucus in the lungs and nasal passages. Holy basil (aka “Tulsi”) kills microbes and stimulates the immune system. Holy basil also has strong anti-stress benefits. Scientists report that holy basil is an antioxidant, with a high flavonoid content, so it helps to heal the damage from chronic stress. In animal studies, Indian researchers found notable anti-stress effects that balanced stress hormones and normalized the size of the stress fighting adrenal glands. Asian people relish holy basil as a daily tea. It’s now common here in health food stores.

Cinnamon bark is a tasty, yet very effective warming diaphoretic that will sweat out the bug. Feel free to add it to any stay-at-home-sick tea combo. Speaking of spicy, another ancient Ayurvedic treatment involves boiling 10 peppercorns in 1 cup of milk. Drink the spicy milk down in a gulp, and be prepared to be decongested!

Holiday Stress Tea

California poppy herb (Eschscholzia california) is quite effective for relaxing when the stress monster shows up.

Just the sight of the lovely purple blossom of the lavender plant might curb stress all by itself. The essential oil certainly does. A group of super relaxed British scientists tested the effects of rosemary and lavender oils on mood and cognition on 148 healthy participants, and reported that lavender reduced memory and reaction time—interpretation, it was calming. Korean researchers, on the other hand, studied what happens when terminal hospice patients used a lavender oil-containing essential oil mixture. The result? The lavender wash reduced pain and depression. Lavender tea is new to us here, but popular in Europe. Make a tasty infusion to your preferred strength and slip into the stress-free zone.

Holiday Dinner Table Tea

Around the world, herbalists use the seeds from numerous members of the parsley family (Apiaceae) to treat gas and indigestion from overeating. Fennel seed is the premier remedy, with dill seed a close second. Infuse 2 Tablespoons of seeds for an effective and delicious drink after that 5,000 calorie meal.

We have always enjoyed a good cup of tasty tea as a beverage. Recently, though, brewing therapeutic herbs into tea as is becoming ever more popular. It helps to think of these preparations as healing remedies, because they don’t all taste that great. Innovative tea companies are merging these two ways of using tea into medicine that tastes good. Try these healing herbs mixed with the delicious flavor herbs you prefer, or look for the many varieties of combination tea bags in the marketplace. Since the tea maker has taken the guesswork out of tea blending, you can sit back and savor the result. If you must take your medicine, it might as well taste good.