I love my morning (and afternoon and sometimes evening) cup of tea. It’s not just that it’s delicious; it has a whole relaxation and “cozy feel” thing associated with it. On cold mornings, just holding that steaming hot mug of tea helps get the day started right, and on especially dark and chilly winter mornings, it’s what gets me out of bed. But sometimes, you need to avoid caffeine, either because it’s too late in the day, or for health reasons.
When I started on the candida diet, caffeine was out, so I had to figure out what to do instead. The answer was easy: I just removed the tea part from my regular chai, left the spices and added cloves – voila! Herbal chai tea. Not only is it delicious, it helped me through the first rough weeks of candida die-off by supporting my adrenal glands and settling my stomach.
And all these spices have a wealth of other health benefits as well:
Cinnamon Cinnamomum verum
Cinnamon is warming and stimulating, and its anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-fungal, and antioxidant properties help control blood sugar and cholesterol levels, prevent unwanted blood clotting, improve digestion, reduce acid reflux and fatigue and boost brain function.
Cardamom Elettaria cardamomum
Cardamom is detoxifying, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, antioxidant, helps digestion, lowers blood pressure, prevents blood clots, and as an added bonus, is an aphrodisiac. In herbalism, cardamom is said to help the liver, stomach, intestines and appetite and Ayurvedic medicine hails it as one of the best and safest digestive aids. Some studies also suggest that cardamom can help with depression and some cancers.
Ginger Zingiber officinale
Ginger is a strong anti-inflammatory, helps with nausea and stomachaches, and boosts the immune system. And studies suggest that gingerols, the active phytonutrients in ginger, can inhibit the growth of colorectal cancer cells and kill ovarian cancer cells.
Cloves Syzygium aromaticum
Cloves have long been used for toothaches and other dental issues, and in addition to being antiseptic and mildly anesthetic, they have anti-bacterial, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and potent anti-fungal properties.
Licorice Root Glycyrrhiza glabra
Licorice is a strong anti-viral, a demulcent and expectorant, has anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, anti-fungal, anti-ulcer, and anti-arthritic properties, and supports the adrenal glands. Research has shown that it can help with hot flashes and night sweats during menopause. It is also very sweet, and adds a wonderful rich, sweet flavor to the tea.
Peppermint Mentha piperita
In addition to being fresh and uplifting, peppermint supports the gastrointestinal tract as well as the gallbladder and bile ducts, has antispasmodic, antibacterial, antimicrobial and antiseptic properties and can help relieve headaches. And the scent when you open a bag of dried mint is just heavenly!
A Note on Licorice
This blend is heavy on licorice root (because I love it) and if you drink too much of it, you could have issues with high blood pressure. I have always had low blood pressure, but after drinking a very strong brew of this tea (steeped 30+ minutes) morning, afternoon and evening every day for 2 months, I had high blood pressure and my naturopath told me to cut back. If you don’t have blood pressure problems, you are fine to drink this tea, but I would limit intake to one cup/day. Or put less licorice in the mix. If you do suffer from high blood pressure, just omit licorice from the blend. It’s delicious without it too!
A Note on Peppermint
If you have GERD or hiatal hernia, do not include peppermint. It can make these conditions worse.
I always recommend using organic ingredients whenever possible, and it is especially important with recipes like this, where the spices are steeped for a long time, and everything that’s in (and on) them will be in the tea you drink. A cup of pesticides is neither appealing nor healthy.
I buy all my spices and herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs; they have a huge selection, the quality is fabulous, they’re all organic and everything is really affordable – their prices are a lot lower than in the grocery store.