Now more than ever, we could all use an extra dose of wellness! Tea can be an excellent way to provide a little boost to your health—for both body and mind! To that end, we’re serving up three tea elixirs to help you stay well all winter long.
Wellness Tea Elixirs: Steep, Sip, Repeat
Disclaimer before we begin: I am not a doctor, and none of the information provided here is intended as medicine. If you have any serious illnesses or concerns, please talk to a medical professional.
That being said, let’s dive in!
Tea elixirs are nothing magical. They’re simply health-promoting teas with extra health-promoting add-ins.
There is a lot of information out there about the health benefits of tea. It’s full of special antioxidants with fancy names — flavonoids, polyphenols, epigallocatechin gallate — I could go on, but I won’t. These words are too ridiculous to keep listing.
The long and short of the matter is this: all these antioxidants with their long, complicated names are good for you. And you get them when you drink tea! Regular consumption of tea can be good for your heart, your blood pressure, your mood, your cholesterol, and can reduce your risk of stroke, heart attack, and cancer.
It also contributes to hydration, which is vital for so many functions of your body — blood flow, joint lubrication, digestive health, sleep quality, and cognitive function… just to name a few.
Winter Wellness: Stay Warm and Keep Sipping
Tea is great for wellness all year long, and it has some especially useful properties to ward off winter blues.
It can help fight off cold symptoms during those chilly winter months.
It can help you sleep through those long winter nights.
It can help ease indigestion from those rich winter foods.
And if you indulge a little too enthusiastically during all those winter celebrations, tea can help you recover the next morning.
Making tea a regular part of your daily ritual is also a great way to slow down and practice self-care.
You can’t rush the steep, so you must take a few moments to relax. You breathe in the aromatics of the leaves. The steam swirls and calms you. When you take your first sip, the flavor floods your tastebuds and the warmth soothes your senses.
Drinking tea is not only good for the body, but it can also be an opportunity to practice mindfulness, which is beneficial for the mind and spirit.
Whether your goal is to boost the wellness of your physical body or your mental health, we have the tea elixirs for you. And who says you can’t do both at the same time?
Elixir to Boost Immunity
We begin with an immunity-boosting elixir. Because who doesn’t want to supercharge their immune system right now?
We start with an elderberry tea. Elderberry is an amazing ingredient to promote winter wellness.
It’s high in vitamin C and antioxidants and is commonly used as a home remedy to nip a cold in the bud. The moment you feel those cold and flu symptoms coming on, (or before—you don’t have to wait until you’re sick!) brew yourself a nice pot of your favorite elderberry tea and sip away!
Elderberry has been shown to reduce inflammation and boost your immune system, which makes it a perfect tea for winter.
What Tea to Use
I used a Strawberry Immunity herbal tea for my base, and it would be hard to say whether I chose it because of its delicious flavor or its healing properties. Echinacea and elderberry team up to give this tea a one-two punch of immunity-boosting protection, and a medley of berries make this one of the tastiest herbal teas you can find. (A safe and awesome starter tea for kids!)
You could also use the Self-Care blend with elderberry and apricot—another herbal tea that is both tasty and healthy. Or if you’re looking for a black tea base, try the Be Well blend with elderberry and orange peel, or Huckleberry Happiness, bursting with a combination of sweet and tart berries, accented with subtle floral notes.
To give your elderberry tea of choice an extra fighting edge, we’re going to add a few extra ingredients, transforming it into a winter wellness tea elixir.
Start with a generous squeeze of lemon juice. (You can also use orange if that’s what you have on hand. Both are high in Vitamin C, which is what we’re looking for in this immunity elixir.)
Fun fact: Both lemons and oranges contain the most Vitamin C in their rinds, so if you don’t mind a few chunks in your tea, whip out that zester and grate the peel directly into your cuppa. Just be sure to wash your citrus thoroughly or use organic fruit to avoid ingesting those pesky pesticides.
To our Vitamin C-rich, immunity-boosting elderberry and lemon, we’re going to add a heaping teaspoon or two of raw, unfiltered honey.
Raw honey contains all sorts of helpful flavonoids and can stimulate antibody production. It’s a totally different beast from the cute little bear-shaped squeeze bottles you see lining grocery store shelves. Whenever possible, using raw, local honey is the way to go! Some say that eating local honey also helps your body adapt to your environment and prevent allergies.
A quick note: Be sure to let your tea cool down to a comfortable sipping temperature before adding your honey. Hot water can kill the nutrients, essentially reducing it to nothing more than a tasty sweetener. (Which is nothing to sneeze at, if you’ll pardon the cold-and-flu pun, but kind of defeats the purpose here.)
Finally, to really amp up those elderberry benefits, feel free to add in a couple of teaspoons of elderberry syrup. If that’s hard to find or is a little pricey, try making your own! It’s a straightforward process, and all you need is dried elderberries, hot water, honey, and some spices. The results are delicious and your immune system just might thank you.
And that’s it! Simple. Classic. Good old-fashioned hot tea with honey and lemon. An immunity-boosting tea elixir for the ages.
Immunity-Boosting Elderberry Honey Elixir
Bring water to a boil.
Pour over loose-leaf tea, and steep according to directions.
Add lemon juice and optional elderberry syrup.
Allow elixir to cool before adding honey. (Hot water can destroy the honey’s nutrients.)
Anti-Inflammatory Tea Elixir
Chronic inflammation can lead to a whole host of illnesses and conditions I’m sure we’d all rather avoid. Arthritis, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, depression…the list goes on and on. In the dark of winter, we can turn to an anti-inflammatory tea elixir to warm up and tamp down on that inflammation to keep us in tip-top condition.
All tea is anti-inflammatory, and the addition of turmeric makes this particular tea an anti-inflammatory powerhouse.
Turmeric is often hailed as a superfood and has roots all over the world, dating back centuries (if you’ll pardon another pun — because it’s a root, you see…). It has long been used to promote health in India, the Polynesian Islands, and in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicines. And if turmeric is good enough for all of that, it’s good enough for our tea elixir!
Turmeric is such a healthy food, in large part because it is full of a chemical called curcumin, which, in addition to being very good for you, also gives turmeric its distinct, vibrant yellow coloring. Another fun fact for the day.
Because the body has a hard time absorbing curcumin, you’ll often find black peppercorn listed as an ingredient in turmeric teas. It can seem counterintuitive to put pepper in your tea (although, tell that to chai and it will laugh in your face), but the addition of pepper or healthy fats will help your body take in all the good stuff that curcumin has to offer.
With that in mind, consider adding a small plop of coconut oil to your elixir or enjoying your beverage with a handful of roasted nuts to give that curcumin a helping hand.
Bonus: In addition to its anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric may also reduce cramps and boost your mood, which makes this elixir an excellent choice for anyone experiencing what I call “Shark Week.” (Or what other, less funny people may call “menstruation.”) So if it’s your time of the month, brew yourself a strong cup of turmeric tea, because we can all use a little extra dopamine during Shark Week.
What Tea to Use
For this anti-inflammatory elixir, we’ll use Golden Cacao herbal tea.
Its honeybush base has its own antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and the combination of turmeric and spices give it a delicious, earthy chai quality.
Ginger root, fennel, peppercorn, and aniseed lend dynamic flavor and aromatics, while cocoa peel and cocoa nib add a heavenly taste of chocolate. Vanilla pieces round out the flavor profile for a turmeric tea you’ll come back to again and again.
What to Add
To lean into the chai flavor of this turmeric tea and to boost its anti-inflammatory powers, we’re going to add whole spices.
Cinnamon is a well-known anti-inflammatory and is a natural complement to the grounded, chocolatey tones of the Golden Cocoa tea.
Black peppercorns stimulate the body’s absorption of curcumin.
Cloves are antibacterial and high in manganese. Plus, they taste great with the ginger, fennel, and aniseed in the herbal tea, so why not?
Fresh ginger is once again a powerful anti-inflammatory.
Toss it all in a pot while your water boils, strain the water over your tea leaves, and you’ve got yourself one tasty anti-inflammatory elixir!
If your spice cupboard is short on whole spices, feel free to choose your favorite chai or puerh instead. Both will add their own health benefits.
For a sweetener, the earthy flavors in the elixir will pair nicely with a dark syrup or molasses. Blackstrap molasses is nutrient-dense in its own right, boasting high amounts of iron, calcium, and potassium, among other things. Or, to lean into the anti-inflammatory theme, stick with a healthy drizzle of raw honey.
All in all, the flavors in this elixir are warm, grounding, earthy, comforting—and chock-full of anti-inflammatory ingredients. Win, win, win, and win.
Anti-Inflammatory Turmeric Chai Elixir
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 5-10 whole cloves
- 1 inch ginger, peeled and sliced
- 5-10 peppercorns or a couple twists of fresh ground pepper
- 1/2 tbs honey, maple syrup, or blackstrap molasses (optional)
Bring water to a boil.*
Pour boiling water over loose-leaf tea.
Steep 4-6 minutes as desired, then strain.
Add sweetener of choice, if desired. (If adding honey, allow tea to cool first to preserve the honey’s nutrients.)
*If using whole spices, add spices to the water as it boils. Allow spices to boil gently for several minutes before straining the water into your mug.
Elixir for Gut Health
In wintertime, we go from one celebration to the next, to the next, to the next.
To counteract all of that indulgence and provide some relief to your poor belly, turn to ginger tea!
Ginger is a go-to remedy for soothing an upset stomach — and for good reason! Ginger, like many other ingredients mentioned here, is high in antioxidants and is anti-inflammatory. It also is antimicrobial and antiviral. All the “anti”s in the best of ways.
Ginger may combat nausea, relieve indigestion, improve circulation, promote weight loss, lower cholesterol, and reduce menstrual pain. If that’s not enough to get you on board the ginger tea train, I don’t know what will be.
An interesting aside: Because ginger is antimicrobial and antiviral, it can inhibit the growth of bacteria, help your body fight off germs, and lower your risk of infection. You might consider adding an inch or so of ginger to the water when you put the kettle on for your Immunity-Boosting elixir.
A gentle warning: If you have issues with blood clots, gallstones, or your gall bladder, please consult a doctor before adding this elixir to your diet. Ginger can have a blood-thinning effect, and may also increase bile acid secretion.
What Tea to Use
Any of your favorite ginger teas will work for this gut-health elixir.
I used Rejuvenation Blend—a classic lemon ginger tea accented with a hint of licorice root for even greater digestive health benefits.
You could stick with the essentials and brew a batch of Just Ginger tea—straightforward ginger pieces for a cuppa with a kick!
Coconut Ginger Soother provides a restorative rooibos base studded with coconut pieces, ginger, and apple pieces, seasoned with cinnamon and coconut essence.
For a black tea base, try Comfort Blend—a soothing spicy citrus blend of cinnamon chips, orange peel, ginger, and clove to warm your bones and calm your stomach.
Rainy Day puerh is a perfect balance of sweet and spicy, harmonizing cinnamon bark, orange peel, ginger root, and sweet cinnamon extract against a backdrop of heady puerh tea. Puerh is fermented, which is almost always good for gut health!
What to Add
While there are well-established flavor combinations for ginger tea add-ins, we’re going to travel a bit off the beaten track with this gut-health elixir.
To begin, as your water comes to a boil, toss in a cinnamon stick. Cinnamon promotes healthy digestion in many ways, including the ability to relieve gas and bloating, and balance bacteria in your gut. After months of rich holiday food and hearty comfort food, a generous sprinkling of cinnamon in your tea may be just what the proverbial doctor ordered.
Once your tea has steeped, pour in a slug of apple cider vinegar to taste. Apple cider vinegar has been used for thousands of years. The ancient Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks all used apple cider vinegar for its healing properties. (Every last one of them. I spoke to them all.) I’m pretty sure out there somewhere, you can find hieroglyphics of ancient citizens sipping apple cider vinegar over the breakfast table and making “yum” faces.
Apple cider vinegar can help lower blood sugar levels, reduce acid reflux, and aid weight loss. Because it is fermented, it contains probiotics beneficial to your digestive system. (Be sure to get apple cider vinegar with “the mother” to enjoy these benefits.)
If you’re new to drinking vinegar, start with a small amount and slowly up your ratio over time as your palate adjusts. Kombucha drinkers will probably be comfortable with the tangy flavor, so feel free to pour with a heavy hand!
Coconut oil contains healthy fatty acids called medium-chain triglycerides (the long words are back…) which are antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antiviral. Put more simply: they’re good for your gut.
They can destroy various strains of bad bacteria in your gut while leaving the good bacteria your intestines like. Adding a small amount to your tea may seem a little odd, but it does support digestive health while imparting a mild coconutty sweetness and lending a silky-smooth sheen to the liquid that is extremely pleasant to sip.
Give your gut a little extra love this winter with a tea elixir to promote gut health!
Gut-Health Cinnamon Ginger Elixir
- 1 teaspoon Rejuvenation Blend loose leaf tea or ginger tea of choice
- 8 ounces water
- 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon coconut oil
- 1 cinnamon stick
- Honey or sweetener, to taste
Bring water to a boil with cinnamon stick.
Pour over loose-leaf tea. Steep 4 to 6 minutes, as desired.
Stir in coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, and optional sweetener.
Mix and Match
Create your own wellness tea elixirs by mixing and matching any of the ingredients above, or introducing your own healing herbs such as rosemary, lavender, or mint. Many of the ingredients we’ve discussed at length have benefits that overlap across categories.
Coconut oil aids digestion and also helps your body absorb the healthy curcumin in your turmeric tea.
Both ginger and cinnamon are anti-inflammatory, aid digestion, and also boost immunity.
And so on.
Here is a launching point to get you started… there’s a little something for everyone:
Take any of your favorite turmeric, ginger, or elderberry teas, add a squeeze of lemon juice for vitamin C, a dash of apple cider vinegar for probiotics, and a cinnamon stick to cover all the bases. Finish off with your favorite healthy sweetener, and raise a glass to toast your health this winter!