Cozying up in the winter with a warm, slightly sweet chai tea sounds like a little piece of heaven. This herbal tea recipe takes those delicious spices found in traditional chai, and adds herbs that nourish and support the adrenals. I left out the black tea that is in traditional chai blends, because of the caffeine content. I am not opposed to caffeine altogether, but when getting things like stress and blood sugar into balance, it can be helpful to limit your intake. The warming spices found in chai tea blends are great for the winter time, especially to stoke your inner fire, or agni, as it is called in the Ayurvedic tradition. Foods and beverages that are warming promote circulation and digestion, both important during the cold winter months to stay healthy.
The benefit to the adrenals comes from the adaptogenic herbs. The ashwagandha, licorice and eleuthero are all adaptogenic herbs, meaning they help the body respond to stressors in a more healthful way; their purpose is to help the body adapt. They help you bounce back from stress at work or the flu or polluted air in the city. Adaptogens support the adrenal glands and, more accurately, the whole HPA (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal) axis. They help to balance stress hormones, improve energy levels, promote better sleep, and boost immune function. These herbs are tonics, meaning they are safe for most people to use over long periods of time. "Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief" by David Winston and Steven Maimes is a great book to read if you want to learn more about these herbal remedies.
When the HPA axis is out of whack, you can have blood sugar dysregulation and weight gain, and even negatively impact your thyroid function. If you have experienced a lot of recent stress, or on the extreme end, HPA axis dysfunction or hypothyroidism, adaptogens may be beneficial herbs for you to try. Luckily, this tea is an easy and delicious way to get these herbs into your life.
When you are working on improving your adrenal health, it is also important to focus on practicing stress-reduction methods such as meditation or long walks in nature. In the diet, be sure to get plenty of vitamin C (from fruits and vegetables, or herbs like amla and rose hips), rest, light, and appropriate exercise. Ensuring adequate nutrient intake, including calories and the macronutrients, is also important. Adaptogenic herbs are part of a larger picture, and give the body extra support as you work on stress and nourishment for your adrenal function. For more information on HPA axis dysfunction, I recommend checking out the work from The Ancestral RD's, on their blog or podcast.
Adrenal Tonic Chai Tea
8 star anise pods
3 cinnamon sticks, 2-3" long each
1-2" grated fresh ginger (or 1 Tbs chopped dried ginger)
6 cardamom pods, crushed
2 tsp fennel seeds
1 Tbs black peppercorns
1 Tbs whole cloves
1 Tbs licorice root
2 Tbs ashwagandha
2 Tbs eleuthero root
1 1/2 quarts filtered water
(*all herbs measured in dry form)
Honey and heavy cream or coconut milk to taste
Place all herbs together in a 2 quart stainless steel pot.
Cover and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to low and let simmer 15-30 minutes, simmering longer for a stronger, more flavorful tea.
Strain tea and add honey and cream to taste.
Brine & Broth
I am a nutritionist in Southwest Wisconsin, focused on traditional, nutrient-dense foods. My goal is to provide you with simple and delicious recipes that fit into real life, and information for choosing healthful real foods. Enjoy!