As the air cools down and days become shorter, you may find yourself reaching for foods and beverages that provide warmth and comfort. Early winter is dominated by Vata dosha, meaning that the cool and dry qualities are strongest. Late winter and spring are the Kapha time of year—a time of year classified by cool and moist energetics. Be it Vata or Kapha time, winter is certainly the chilly season, and therefore it is helpful (and joyful!) to enjoy Ayurvedic drinks for winter.
There are a plethora of tasty options for when it comes to wholesome Ayurvedic drinks that will help warm your fingers and your belly. Here’s a few Ayurvedic favorites:
The Gold Standard
When it comes to soothing, nourishing warm beverages, golden milk is a wonderful choice. You can purchase golden milk mix from a number of quality suppliers or make it yourself. Here is a simple recipe for golden milk that you can make at home with just a handful of common ingredients.
Easy Golden Milk Recipe
1 cup whole organic cow’s milk (or oat, almond or coconut milk)
1/8 teaspoon black pepper, ground
1/4-1/2 tsp turmeric powder to taste
a dash of cinnamon powder
a pinch of cardamom powder
1 tsp of ghee, ghruta, or coconut oil (optional)
1/3 teaspoon ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) root powder (optional)
Put all ingredients into a small saucepan and bring to the edge of boiling. Turn heat off just before milk boils. Pour into a mug. Stir well. You can sweeten to taste with a little fresh honey or maple syrup. Top with fresh ground nutmeg to aid in sleep. A tiny pinch of saffron also adds aroma and cools Pitta dosha. Also, consider stirring in a spoonful of Chyawanprash while sipping for an added ojas boost.
Adaptogenic Hot Cocoa
Hot cocoa is a wintertime holiday classic. To make this cozy beverage a great Ayurvedic drink for winter, consider mixing your own with adaptogenic herbs and warming spices. Adaptogens such as ashwagandha, tulsi, astragalus, schizandra, and reishi are enjoying a moment in the limelight. This is because adaptogens can do so much for us. They are similar to what we know as “rasayanas” in Ayurveda, as they have a generally nourishing, tonifying, and balancing effect.
Consider adding a dash of adaptogenic or rasayana herbs to your cocoa mix for a little stress and immune support. Here are a few ideas for herbs to choose from:
Ashwagandha for calming Vata, supporting restful sleep, and nourishing your nervous system.
Shatavari if your constitution runs on the warm or dry side. Also, shatavari has a balancing and tonifying effect on the female reproductive system in particular.
Astragalus if you are looking for immune regulation and fortification. Plus, astragalus is warming, so it’s great for winter and for folks who run cool or cold.
Reishi mushrooms. Ground and powdered reishi mushroom combines wonderfully with chocolate. Reishi soothes the nerves, supports lung and immune function, and overall vitality.
Once have selected your herb(s) of choice, the rest is simple!
Adaptogenic Hot Cocoa Recipe
2 cups whole organic cow’s milk (or substitute oat, almond, or coconut milk)
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa or cacao powder
1/2 teaspoon adaptogen of choice, powdered
a dash of cinnamon, cardamom, and/or allspice, ground
Maple syrup or coconut sugar to taste
Begin by heating the milk in a saucepan. Gradually add in the cocoa/ cacao powder, whisking to create a smooth texture. Add the herb of choice, continuing to whisk. Careful not to let the milk boil over. When milk is foamy and hot, remove from heat. Add the spices, pour into two mugs, and sweeten to taste.
If your hand whisk does not adequately smooth out any lumps from the powdered ingredients, consider using an immersion blender for a few seconds or blending the entire mixture in a glass blender. A dash or cardamom or allspice on top is a great finishing touch.
Ojas Boosting Tea
In the fall and winter, it is especially important to care for one’s immune system and nourish ojas. Chyawanprash is ancient Ayurvedic rasayana that is prized for its 30+ superfood ingredients that deliver nutrients and restorative benefits deep into the body’s tissues. Some of the health benefits associated with Chyawanprash include increased general health and vitality, improved respiratory function, enhanced reproductive and sexual health, better cognitive function, and more.
Simply stir a spoonful of this tasty herbal jam into hot water, and you can enjoy an easy and delicious immune-boosting tea.
Warming Spice Tea for Winter
Golden milk and adaptogenic hot cocoa are great choices if you are looking for a milky, rich beverage. However, if you need something more light and energizing, consider a spicy herbal tea.
This tea is based on a recipe from Usha and Vasant Lad’s book Ayurvedic Cooking for Self-Healing (1). The tea is indicated for balancing Kapha dosha, and you can use this recipe as a template. Feel free to adjust based on your taste, constitution, and ingredients on hand!
Warming Ayurvedic Spice Tea
1 cup water
1/4 teaspoon dried ginger, powdered
1/3 teaspoon cloves, whole
1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seed
5-8 black peppercorns
Bring water to a boil. Add the spices, cover, and remove from heat. Steep covered for 10-15 minutes. Strain and drink.
Here’s to Your Health!
Whether you relish the cool, dark nights of winter or can’t wait until spring, staying healthy with foods and beverages that complement the season can make a big difference. If you are looking for a cozy cup of warmth to enjoy alone or with a companion, I hope that this sampling of Ayurvedic winter drinks serves as inspiration and nourishment.
Greta Kent-Stoll is a Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner (NAMA), as well as a writer, editor, and Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher. Her Ayurveda practice is based in Asheville, North Carolina and she is the co-owner of Iyengar Yoga Asheville.
Lad, U., & Lad, V. Ayurvedic Cooking for Self-Healing. Albuquerque, NM: The Ayurvedic Press.