Tea as Medicine
by Prashanti de Jager
An article about Tea as medicine written by renowned Ayurvedic teacher Prashanti de Jager
Have you ever noticed that there is something so practical and accessible about consuming your herbs as a tea? Have you ever observed that there is also something ancient and magical, deeper than mind even, about sipping a cup of hot nourishing tea? Read on to discover why you are right on both accounts.
Defining Our Terms
First of all, let's define our terms. What do I mean by tea? Often, at some event or another, I will give a person a cup of Tulsi Tea and they will immediately ask me, "Is it tea?" or they might say, "Is there any tea in it?" Fair enough. We know what they mean. They are equating the word "tea" with an infusion of the herb whose Latin name is Camellia sinensis, the herb used to make Black Teas like what is in Tulsi India Breakfast Tea, Green Teas like what is in Tulsi Green Tea and Pu-erh tea, and of course, White Tea, like Snow Leopard.
Yes, Camellia is "Tea;" yes, Camellia has caffeine; no, Tulsi and 99.99% of all herbs on the planet do not have caffeine. However, what I am talking about when I say "tea" is any infusion of herbs into hot or cold water, and if hot, either simmered or steeped.
So, above and beyond the medicinal quality of the herb, what makes an herbal tea medicinal? Amongst the many reasons here are 8 insights that are especially meaningful to me.
Tea's Liquidity is a Medicine as it Boosts Hydration
The first characteristic of tea is that it is liquid, and that liquid is a medicine as it helps hydrate us. We all know that most of us simply do not hydrate ourselves properly. So drinking tea is increasing hydration. I know it is a big part of my hydration pattern, especially after living in India for so long where I lost trust in the available water on those hot plains. Boiled water just tends to be safer for us than tap water and even safer than many bottled waters.
Also, because it's as easy to purify a parched body as it is to wring a dried sponge clean, when it comes to cleansing hydration is practically a must. So when you use cleansing and restorative formulas like the Triphala formula and the Liver-Kidney formula, washing them down with plenty of tea is a good idea. You can even open up these capsules and add them to Tulsi Tea, like Tulsi Liquorice as these herbs so appropriate to a spring cleanse.
Tea's Warmth is a Medicine as it Boosts Metabolism
Doesn't it just make so much sense that one of the Sanskrit words for cold water, especially ice water, is Vish, meaning poison, as it is so hard on the digestion? The colder the water, and the more of it, the more the digestion is diluted and slowed; the more digestion is shut down the poorer the quality of tissue is produced; and viola, you have an America which is 35% obese. Ice water is not digestible and it severally attenuates digestion of anything else. Ice water is not the whole story for those who find themselves far from their optimal weight, but is big part of it. If you are an "ice-water" type then you may also want to become a "Trikatu" type as well to help counteract the oft deleterious deep chill of your habit.
Conversely, warm tea tends to be medicinal as it is always a great idea to protect your digestive "fire," or as they say in Yoga and Ayurveda, "Guard the Agni." Drinking warm tea is like nectar in this way. In fact, one of the classic ways of stimulating the digestion and restoring one that has slowed is to take tiny sips of very hot water throughout the day.
Tea Delivers Nutrients Already Unpacked
When we consume whole fresh herbs, for instance in our food, or herbs in capsules for that matter, then those herbs have to go down into our inne...
Go to news archive
This article was last updated on 3/05/12