Winter Warming Teas
All teas can create a snug comfortable feeling that shelters you from the harsh bitter cold outside. However, there are some teas that are more efficient at warming the body inside and out. The dropping temperatures and shorter days of the winter season can leave you shivering and feeling sluggish. Eating well, exercise, plenty of sleep and water will help keep the body at peak performance.
All varieties of tea can help you get plenty of water with their hydrating properties. They will also contain antioxidants and amino acids to benefit your mood and health year round. To beat the challenges of the season, find a blend to boost an average cup with additional health-boosting ingredients, such as mint, ginger, or citrus fruit, which improve circulation and maintain homeostasis during a cold, blood flow-constricting season. Tea blends that are high in vitamins and minerals also tend to have literal warming properties with anti-inflammatory and antiviral side effects to aid in cell and tissue repair, thereby improving organ function.
Finding a winter tea that can fit in your day is ideal for staying cozy. These are suggestions based on caffeine content and nutrient absorption. So celebrate January's National Hot Tea Month, and bolster a winter warrior strategy with the perfect teas to warm the body and fight off seasonal bugs and blues.
A Ceylon chai blend will help start the day with a bang while generating a fire internally, awakening your mental and physical energies. The dose of caffeine combined with the basic spice blend of a masala chai includes cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and ginger to create a flavor profile that is both soothing and energizing.
These spices combined have an assortment of vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D, and K, and minerals including potassium, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, and zinc. Cinnamon works to lower blood sugar; cardamom is anti-spasmodic, easily relieving an active cough; cloves contain selenium, electrolytes, and beta-carotene to maintain nutrient absorption; and ginger is a pain-reliever that can sooth sore muscles, and improve digestion. Together these spices are antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and anti-fungal, to clear up any bug.
Mid-Morning to Afternoon
Aim for a cup high in vitamin C to benefit the immune system and provide extra support to the cardiovascular system. While the cold fighting powers of vitamin C is highly acclaimed, fruits high in vitamin C also help get the blood pumping to warm and strengthen the body. Try an herbal or green tea that contains citrus fruit, berries, hibiscus, and/or rose hips.
Hibiscus or rosehips are also rich in vitamin C, and their antioxidant content ensures anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial cup. Rose hips in particular, the fruit of the rose plant, includes a series of vitamins and minerals, such as A, B complex, E, calcium, iron, selenium, manganese, magnesium, potassium, and zinc to help your body fight and power through to second half of the day.
Curb an oncoming sweet tooth and ease any pain, congestion, or constriction with a rooibos or honeybush tea. Both teas contain anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic properties, working to ease cramps, pain, coughs, and digestive issues.
These teas are naturally decaffeinated and high in vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, calcium, iron, potassium, copper, fluoride, manganese, magnesium, and zinc. Sipping on one cup can increase airflow to the lungs and improve circulation to combat a cold or virus.
Breathe deep and relax with an herbal tisane. Herbal teas will help release anxiety or tension from shoveling snow or driving home in the complete darkness. The lack of caffeine will help to get enough sleep while still reaping the cold fighting benefits.
Adding to your cup
Some claim that creating a special tea cocktail with the addition of lemon juice, honey or maple syrup, and herbs is what keeps the winter cooties away. The benefits and science to backup the inclusion of these items is a personal preference. The extra dose of vitamin C or the soothing and sweet taste of honey or maple syrup can be comforting, but these items aren't necessary for having a nutrient dense cup of tea.
Mint leaves will help with a cranky tummy, and cayenne will naturally add heat to the body. However, be careful of any allergies or medications, because some herbs can conflict or have side effects if they are overused.
I would also be wary of adding milk or cream to tea when trying to ward off a bug. Not only can dairy interact poorly with some teas, it can also cause mucus buildup, which will anger the coughs or sniffles that you are trying to banish.
Go ahead and try new combinations this season, or experiment with few teas already in your pantry by adding fresh herbs, spices, or fruit to make you feel warm and cozy. Try a splash of lime or a sprig of thyme. The fuzzy happy feeling that comes from a great cup of tea doesn't need to have scientific backing, but it certainly doesn't hurt. Just sip and cuddle up with a new favorite cup.
Samantha Albala is a writer and medical editor by day, and a curious D.I.Y. tea crafter by night. Her years working in bakeries and tea houses gave her the knowledge and freedom to experiment and blend together a large assortment of loose teas and tisanes on a daily basis. She will never pass up a cup of jasmine, silver needle, or vanilla rooibos. Read more about Samanatha HERE.