On a blustery day, there’s nothing better than curling up on the couch, wrapped in a blanket, with a good book, an affectionate pet — and a steaming cup of tea. It warms your belly, it warms your hands — and that cup can contain all kinds of great health benefits that can help you get through the winter feeling good. These tea and herb combinations will warm and strengthen you during the cold months ahead.
Roasted barley and black tea
Roasted barley is very popular in many Asian cultures. In Japan, it is known as mugicha, and is also very popular in the summer as an iced drink. Roasted barley with black tea is particularly good for warming up the body.
This takes a little time to make, but you can make several servings and save some.
- If the barley hasn’t already been roasted, place 1/4 cup barley in a heated cast iron pot or skillet and cook for about 3-5 minutes until it is golden brown. Do not add water or oil. Be careful not to burn the barley.
- Place the roasted barley in a saucepan with 4 cups of water. (If you have a grinder, you can grind the grains before adding to the water). Cook until the water starts to boil. Then turn down the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
- While waiting, brew black tea in a separate cup.
- You can either add the brewed tea to the saucepan with the barley or you can pour both into an empty teapot. Make sure you strain out the tea and the barley before drinking.
- Add honey or rock sugar if desired. It is ready to serve.
If you have some left over, you can keep it in the fridge and rewarm it, or make iced tea out of it later.
Astragalus and oolong tea
This combination is also good for warming the body, and has been associated with boost in metabolism.
Break up 12 tbsp of Astragalus into a few smaller pieces, and brew in a covered cup with a small amount of boiling water. Let steep for at least 5 minutes.
In a larger separate cup or pot, brew the oolong tea for about 3 minutes in a tea strainer, but do not fill the water up all the way. Remove the tea leaves from the pot and add the brewed water from the Astragalus.
Where to purchase ingredients
Barley can be found in many conventional grocery stores and natural food stores. Astragalus can be found in Asian grocery stores.
The best quality black and oolong teas are available in specialty tea shops, but you can buy less expensive black tea in any grocery store, and oolong teas in natural and Asian food stores.
Rock sugar is the purest form of sugar. After it is dissolved in water, it can moisten a dry esophagus and aid in protecting against laryngitis. Rock sugar can be found in some organic and specialty grocery stores, and also in most Asian grocery stores.
Note: If you are pregnant or nursing, please consult your doctor before drinking any of the tonics listed above. For early stages of pregnancy, drinking a small amount of ginger tea is good for alleviating morning sickness. Pure red rooibos tea is also mild enough to drink during pregnancy.