The term “adaptogen” may be relatively new, but many adaptogenic herbs have been used in Ayurveda and other herbal traditions for centuries (1). Adaptogens are herbs, roots, and mushrooms that support your body’s chemistry in dealing with stress. They function in a number of ways, but in general, adaptogens support the hormones and neurotransmitters that your body produces to cope with stress (1).
You can enjoy adaptogens as tinctures, capsules, raw powders, and of course tea! Let’s take a look at some adaptogenic tea ideas and ways of incorporating these beneficial botanicals into your regular routine.
Choosing the Best Adaptogens for You
Some adaptogens are energizing, some are calming, and others have a balancing effect. Knowing the effect that you are going for will help you determine the best adaptogens for you. Also, not everyone’s body chemistry responds in exactly the same way. For instance, some people might feel the energizing effects of ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) whereas others may experience it as a more calming herb. Therefore, some experimentation may be required to find the best adaptogens for you.
On the plus side, most adaptogens are fairly safe for most people. However, if you take medications or have a medical condition, it is always wise to get an expert opinion before starting any herbal routine.
Adaptogenic Tea for Calm
Let’s start by looking at adaptogens and adaptogenic teas for staying calm and cool-headed. Some adaptogens that help produce a calm state of mind are:
- Holy basil/tulsi
- Gotu Kola
- Reishi mushrooms
You will find both ashwagandha and holy basil in Chyawanprash. So, one simple and easy way to get a good dose of adaptogens is by taking 1-2 teaspoons of Chyawanprash per day. Mix a teaspoon of Chyawanprash into a mug of just-boiled water to make it an adaptogenic tea! This is a great way to start your day. Ideally, take Chyawanprash adaptogenic tea before breakfast daily.
In addition, there are many ways to enjoy adaptogenic tea using the above ingredients. Tulsi chai is a great way to start your day, and is a caffeine-free alternative to masala chai (typically made with black tea leaves). Plus, since tulsi chai won’t keep you up at night or give you caffeine jitters, you can even enjoy it as an afternoon or evening treat. Check out our tulsi chai recipe in this article, Ayurvedic Herbal Drinks.
Personally, I make my own chai masala spice blend with ginger, cardamom, clove, black pepper, cinnamon, and a bit of fennel seed. Lately, I am in the habit of adding dried, powdered tulsi to the mix. And, I have definitely been known to add powdered reishi mushrooms to my chai blends as well.
Adaptogenic Tea for Energy
One hallmark of adaptogens is that they help your body and brain to adapt. Sometimes you need calming down. Other times your energy may be flagging and you need a little boost. Let’s check out some adaptogenic tea ideas for energizing. Here are some ideas for energizing adaptogens:
- Cordyceps Mushrooms
- Ashwagandha (can be calming or energizing)
One fun idea is to make adaptogenic lattes with powdered herbs. The Minimalist Baker gives some great recipes for 5-Minute Mushroom Lattes. If coffee is not for you, you can always sub grain coffee, rooibos or black tea where coffee is called for.
For a more mild pick-me-up, check out this Good Morning Ashwagandha Matcha Latte from Banyan Botanicals. This adaptogenic tea does contain caffeine from the matcha. So, best to sip on this adaptogenic tea during the early part of the day. That said, it is a lovely way to enjoy the benefits of both nourishing ashwagandha and antioxidant-rich matcha.
Adaptogenic Berry Tea
When it comes to adaptogenic tea, you can always keep it super simple with a single-ingredient infusion. Schizandra berries, call Omija, or “five flavor berries” in Korean make a wonderful balancing adaptogenic tea.
You can purchase dried schizandra berries in many herb stores, health food stores and co-ops, or online. Use 2 tablespoons of dried berries for 16 ounces of water. You may want to pre-soak the berries overnight and rinse. Then, boil the water, add berries, simmer for 15-20 minutes, strain, and enjoy. Many people like the taste of schizandra as is, but you can sweeten with a bit of honey, maple syrup, or coconut sugar if the tea is too sour or bitter for your taste.
Schizandra supports healthy liver and hormone function. And, the berries and tea are a lovely reddish color!
Tea Time for Your Health!
When it comes to adaptogenic tea, it is a wide and wonderful world. There are myriad ways to incorporate these beneficial herbs into your daily routine. Whether as a simple herbal infusion, adaptogenic chai, or fancy adaptogenic matcha latte, there is likely a great adaptogenic tea blend out there for you!
Groves, M.N. (2016). Body Into Balance: A Holistic Guide to Herbal Self-Care. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing.
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.