What Tea Do I Drink for a Cold and Congestion?

Kapha—the last of the three Ayurvedic herbal teas—is undoubtedly the most unforgettable of the three!

Powerful and peppery, it packs a punch! (Perhaps not for the faint of heart!!)

Which cleanses your sinuses when you are really congested.

And is also great iced!

The Kapha dosha is the energy that forms our body’s structure and is calm, grounded, nurturing.

So why is the tea so invigorating? 

The weak spot of this dosha is too much of that calmness . . .  leading to stagnation. Hence this tea’s fiery kick!

Other pluses of this tea? 

It is naturally caffeine free.

It is very pretty—belying its potency!

The blend of ginger, blackberry leaves, lemon balm leaves, parsley, fennel, coriander, chili, and cardamom means all the antioxidants that plants provide—plus the extra health benefits of spices.

Cardamom, for example, has been shown to have both antioxidant and antibacterial benefits, particularly when heated.

It is definitely stimulating! And worth a try!

The Kapha pictured here is available at TeaHaus.com. For information on the other two Ayurvedic herbal teas, see my posts on Pitta and Vata.


What Tea Do I Drink for a Fever?

montage pitta_blog.jpgSo having drunk lots of Vata herbal tea for my sore throat—hoping to stave off anything worse—no such luck.

Fever sets in.

And next in line of the three Ayurvedic herbal teas is Pitta.

Pitta is one of my favorite herbals, with or without a virus brewing!

This pretty tea includes green mint and raspberry leaves and pale yellow-green lemon grass, sprinkled with pink and purple petals. The colorful blossoms really stand out when the tea is brewed!

Why this tea when running a fever?

Because its cooling and bright peppermint flavor is just right—light body, with a slight lemony undertone.

It cools, it refreshes, it soothes, but it never overpowers.

And for a greater pop of flavor, try this tisane iced.

As I wrote in my last post, the Ayurvedic system of medicine been practiced since antiquity. With its focus on balancing our bodily systems, it is all about health and living well.

In this tradition, the Pitta dosha or energy is the metabolic system; fire + water; achievement, action, passion.

Pitta tea serves as a cooling and soothing counterbalance.

Mint—with its heady scent and invigorating flavor—has also been valued since antiquity. It was tossed into baths, used in food and beverages, taken medicinally, and served as a symbol of hospitality in many regions of the world.

The herb’s cooling effect is due to menthol, an essential oil. When menthol binds to receptors on sensory neurons, calcium ions move into the cells, sending a “cool” message to the brain.

So whether running an actual fever or running a feverish pace in life, Pitta wonderfully cools!


The Pitta Ayurvedic herbal tea pictured here is available at TeaHaus. The tea contains lemon grass, mint, raspberry leaves, cardamom, licorice, mallow petals, and rose petals.

What Tea Do I Drink for a Sore Throat?

vata-brewedIt is never a good time to succumb to any nasty virus making the rounds. I mean never!

While the being-sick part is bad enough, the feeling-better-and-then-looking-at-the-[insert your nemesis here]-piled-up is enough to drive anyone back to bed.

But for those of us in the sore throat phase of some virus, what tea do we reach for? What soothes and coats the throat?

Vata may prove an ideal tea.

This Ayurvedic herbal tea is naturally caffeine vata-wetfree—in no way interrupting your sleep!

The thicker, creamy body of Vata tea coats your throat, and its sweet licorice and anise aroma and flavor are smooth and soothing.

This herbal mix contains licorice, coriander, cinnamon, ginger, anise, and mallow blossoms—and we know that spices such as cinnamon and ginger boost the immune system and are antioxidant and antibacterial. In fact, when  heated, the antibacterial benefit of cinnamon increases.


Ayurveda simply means the science or knowledge of life. Emerging from India’s ancient Vedic period, this Hindu system of medicine focuses on balancing our body’s systems through diet, herbs, breathing exercise, and lifestyle. Long recognized in India as a formal system of medicine, research continues within this rich tradition and the Western world has begun to take note.

Ayurveda describes three energy types that operate in our bodies. These energies or doshas—from Sanskrit “fault, disease”—are still known by their Sanskrit names, including Vata, the energy of movement.

And while you may not feel like moving while in the throes of a virus, sit back, relax, sip Vata, and maybe life will come back into balance.

The Vata tea pictured here is available at TeaHaus.com.

An Intriguing Persian Ware–Made in Germany Teapot (Now, How the Heck Do I Use It?)


A friend handed me this incredible teapot—which I puzzled over for a bit. How the heck was it used?? The clue: those little feet on its back.


You place the teapot on its back, supported by its legs, and then put the tea leaves in the top part of the pot, above the strainer. Add hot water and let the tea steep.


To serve the tea, simply put the pot back upright and pour, and the strainer along with the plug of the cover will keep the leaves safely in the top part of the pot.

Persian Ware, Made in Germany

makers-markCurious to learn more about this teapot, I tried investigating Persian Ware that was made in Germany. . . . and came up with . . . not a whole lot.

I did, however, locate Stuart Federhart Holland, who researches this ware, and who very graciously shared the following information.

The makers mark found on the teapot’s base is an import mark for the United States. While this ware was manufactured in Germany in the years between the two world wars, it was intended for Germans who had immigrated to the U.S. Thus, this ware is found primarily in the States.

Some of the designers of this ware were connected to the Bauhaus movement (Bauhaus was an influential German modernist school of art that melded creativity and manufacturing, fine art and craft).

And the name, Persian Ware? Some of this ware’s patterns draw on nineteenth-century Persian motifs.

And who thought up this original teapot design? Absolutely no idea.

But it’s truly a conversation starter!

China Royal Jasmine Curls Green Tea: What It Is and How to Brew It

534_dry  534-leaves-after-1st-inf_0246534_first-inf_0243

China Royal Jasmine Curls—the name alone suggests that this is an exquisite tea!

This specialty green tea, unique to China, is made with time-honored traditions. In Fujian Province (located on mainland China’s southeast coast), bud sets are plucked in the spring and lightly processed. Then, when jasmine blossoms are available in the summer, the blossoms and tea leaves are layered. This allows the tea to pick up the aroma and flavor of the flowers.

The beautiful hand-rolled curls of tea slowly unfurl as you brew them, yielding a captivating brew. The photos above show the curls before and after the first brew of 2 minutes. You can see that the leaves have not fully opened, and this first brew did not have as much flavor as I would like.

So on to the second brew:


This infusion appears pretty much the same as the first . . . as in, pretty much ide534_leaves-after-2nd-inf_0250ntical. Trust me, I did label these to keep track of which is which!

This second infusion resulted in a more flavorful cup, delicate and delicious. And the leaves are more unfurled.

But you can see that a couple of leaves are still a bit curled up, bringing me to a third infusion, which was my favorite!

A note about brewing—for the best flavor, brew the curls loose in a pot and then strain the leaves out, or, use a brew basket large enough to allow the leaves to fully open up and remove the basket after 2 minutes. You also don’t want boiling water for this green tea classic. I began at 176°F; for each successive infusion, it is best to drop the temperature by a couple of degrees.


Tea pictured is available at TeaHaus. Recommended brewing is 3 g (1 heaping tsp) of tea per 8 oz of filtered water, boiled and cooled to 80°C/176°F, for 2 minutes.

Why I Drink Loose Leaf Tea

tea leaf after brewing
At the most elemental level, it is just immensely satisfying to brew my tea and then find this:







SO much more aesthetically pleasing than a sodden teabag!! And this example is textbook perfect!

  • And this is what you should be finding if your green tea says it consists of the first leaves and bud
  • And this is why loose leaf tea yields a far superior cup than that made with a teabag
  • And this is why you can re-infuse many loose leaf teas repeatedly

—because, to begin with, these whole leaves retain more flavor than cut pieces of leaves, and then they keep releasing flavor over multiple brews as they unfurl. (see my earlier post for more info on this)

brewed tea
A beautiful cup of Chinese green tea to savor. . . .

Hyson Green Tea and the American Colonists

In a recent visit to Boston, my daughter bought this fun tea for me:

Young Hyson tea tinYoung Hyson tea tin, back panel

As the tin says, early Americans drank Hyson and Young Hyson teas along with the gunpowder teas that my last posts examined.

The English deliberated about which teas to ship to the colonies, evaluating flavor, price, storability, profit—and what they could convince the colonists to drink! A few months before the Boston Tea Party, a Mr. Palmer (Drake 1884) mused that by offering a selection of teas:

the taste of the Americans will also be better known, that is, whether they prefer a fresh middling tea, provided it is not absolutely faint, or a strong, rough tea.

It seemed the colonists preferred their tea made with harbor water! Fifteen cases of Hyson were among the cases of tea dumped overboard back in December of 1773!

What Was Hyson Tea?

hyson tea leavesHyson and Young Hyson teas were green teas produced in China’s Anhui Province. Because they were less oxidized than black teas, green teas did not store as well—which was a real problem in the days when the journey from China took months to years!

To maximize profits and to minimize hyson tea leaves, after brewing
loss due to spoilage, that same Mr. Palmer recommended that the English East India Company try to get the Americans to drink Siglo (a green tea) over Bohea (a black tea).

He obviously wasn’t taking into account spoilage via hasty night-time brewing by irate colonists.

hyson tea brewingToday, I am enjoying this reproduction tea packaged by Oliver Pluff and Company in South Carolina. It is neither “absolutely faint” nor “strong, rough.”

Rather, I like its more bold and earthy flavor . . . properly brewed with heated freshwater. . . .