Not long ago a potential Ayurveda client approached me asking if she could receive ayurvedic care without “drinking a bunch of crazy teas.” My answer was absolutely yes! I view Ayurveda as way of life rather than a formula or prescription. Drinking tea is not a must for practicing Ayurveda. However, the more you learn about the wonderful qualities of herbs and spices, don’t be surprised if tea drinking starts to creep into your daily routine!
The Wide World of Tea
When we speak of drinking tea in Ayurveda this includes actual tea leaves (Camellia sinensis), as well as herbal and spice teas. For those who have switched from drinking coffee to drinking tea, you may be familiar with the wide world of beverages that opens up to you when you start exploring tea. There is green tea, black tea, masala chai, puerh, and of course a near infinite number of herbal and spice infusions to enjoy.
Whether you are a tea lover or taking a few sample sips, there is indeed much to be explored and enjoyed within the wide world of tea. You can of course let your nose and taste buds be your guide. But choosing tea blends that are suitable for your constitution is always a good idea. Now let’s check out some ideas for choosing teas based on ayurvedic principles.
Tips for Tip-Top Tea
The ratio of herbs and spices to water depends on how strong you like your tea. However, a simple guide is to use 1-2 tablespoons total of herbs and spices per quart of water. Or, 1-2 teaspoons per mug of tea.
If using powdered spices, simply bring the water to boil, remove from heat, and then add in the spices. If you are using whole, dried spices such as clove buds and whole black peppercorns, you will want to simmer the spices in water for several minutes. The longer you steep your tea the more potent.
Stimulating and Spicy: Teas for Kapha Dosha
Since Kapha dosha is cool, damp, and heavy, teas that are light, warming, stimulating, and spicy are best for Kapha dosha. Here are some ideas for ingredients to use in a Kapha friendly tea blend. If you are new to making herbal tea, pick 3-5 ingredients and see what you like.
- dried ginger
- star anise
- black peppercorns
- cayenne pepper
- ajwan seeds
- bay leaf
- tulsi/holy basil
- fenugreek seeds
For specific Kapha-friendly tea recipes, check out our post Invigorating and Energizing Kapha Tea Recipes. Spicy teas made of ingredients such as ginger, black pepper, and clove are great for motivating sluggish digestion. On the other hand, consider mint and tulsi for refreshing the mind.
Keep it Cool: Teas for Pitta Dosha
Pitta dosha is light, hot, and intense. Furthermore, individuals with a Pitta constitution may be prone to burning indigestion. Therefore, teas that soothe the GI (gastro-intestinal) tract and cool down digestion are ideal for Pitta types. These teas are also good for summer—Pitta season. Here are some ideas for what to put in a cooling, Pitta pacifying tea blend.
- rose petals
Pitta types need to be careful to keep a cool head and to not overheat their digestive fire. You can read more about specific Pitta pacifying tea recipes in our post Soothing Pitta Tea Recipes. CCF (cumin, coriander, fennel) tea is great for soothing digestive distress. Also, sometimes Pitta types need to calm down and chill out. Bedtime spiced milks are great for this.
Warm and Cozy: Teas for Vata Dosha
Vata dosha is light, cool, rough, and dry in nature. Therefore, warming teas are best for Vata types—and for autumn, Vata season. Also, Vata dosha may benefit from teas that are slightly heavy and sweet, such as a milky, sweetened masala chai and warmed, spiced milk with ashwagandha. Looking for a warming, Vata-soothing tea to sip on a cool evening? Here are some ideas for ingredients!
- black pepper
- star anise
For specific tea recipes, check out our post Vata Tea Recipes for Warmth, Nourishment and Comfort. Go with light and warming teas if you are looking to stimulate digestion. Spiced milks and herbal milks are good for soothing nerves and quelling the appetite.
Tea-time Morning, Midday, and Night
Any time of day can be tea time! However, you can coordinate your chosen beverage with the time of day, your dosha, and your desired effect. If you are looking for a morning eye opener, a warming, stimulating masala chai may be the thing. Also, you can stir a teaspoon or two of Chyawanprash into hot water as a nourishing, ojas-building beverage before breakfast. Drinking Chyawanprash as a breakfast tea is a great practice for overall health and wellness especially before the first meal of the day.
Furthermore, you may want to consider the ebb and flow of the doshas throughout the day. Remember 2-6 am and 2-6pm is the Vata time of day. Six-10am and 6-10pm is the Kapha time of day. And, 10am-2pm and 10pm-2am is the Pitta time of day. During the Vata time of day you may find that you need to soothe your nerves. The Kapha time of day may call for some stimulation, and the Pitta time may remind you to cool down and chill out.
Lastly, if you are ready to wind down for the evening, stick with soothing, caffeine free tea blends such as lavender, chamomile, rose, or passionflower. Or, golden milk with a pinch or two of powdered ashwagandha can be great for the evening.
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.