A cup of immunitea to ward off monsoon blues
“Monsoon ho aur chai naa ho, toh kya monsoon hua.” In our country, rains are synonymous with tea and together, these two are a match no Indian matchmaker can beat. Every Indian household, anywhere in the world, has their own concoction, matching the cyclical rhythm of the seasons. Adrak vali kadak chai for winters, doodh-patti vali malai-laden tea for summers or a power-packed masala chai for monsoon, there is a cup of immunity for every taste bud. And as much as we love soaking ourselves to the bone in a good spell of rain, the chances of catching a cold, or worse, flu, cannot be ruled out.
“There are two sides of monsoon — good and bad. This weather is extremely conducive for several bacteria and virus, and is also the breeding season for insects and bugs. Fermented drinks like kanji, kefir, raab are extremely healthy and are great for our gut flora,” says chef Nishant Choubey, adding, “Tea is a natural antioxidant and one must consume either brewed or fermented. Apple has great fiber and is extremely useful for the heart and it complements tea. Together they help our body to fight free radicals and boost our internal systems.”
The medicinal properties and health benefits of tea are widely acknowledged, and when brewed with herbs, the resulting drink can work wonders for the immune system.
“Tea has many medicinal qualities which are helpful in many ways. With the introduction of new age tea’s made up with herbs, flowers and spices people are experimenting with their tea’s as these provide the highest quality of medicinal benefits,” says tea connoisseur Nitish Jha. Going the Ayurveda way, Jha advises using homegrown herbs. “Ingredients like neem, brahmi, rosemary and turmeric act as an immunity booster. Neem helps the body’s ability to fight all kinds of infections. Rosemary is a rich source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. Curcumin is the bioactive compound present in turmeric that carries strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties,” he says.
In a land where spices thrive, it is hard to come across a recipe which hasn’t exploited them to the best. It is no surprise then that our teas also are a heady mix of these aromatic spices. “Spices help big time. Just boil clove, peppercorn, cinnamon, turmeric, cardamom, tulsi leaves and ginger in water. You can add all these spices to your tea as it is one of the best ways to fight off flu. Our immune system gets suppressed when we are down and depressed, so it is important to consume ingredients that aid in relaxation,” says nutritionist Kavita Devgan.
Here are some easy brews that can be made at home.
Mulled apple and elderflower tea by chef Nishant Choubey
Brew one sachet of elderflower tea in water and strain. Simmer two skinned red apples with 100ml apple juice, honey, strips of orange peel, one cinnamon stick and some cloves. Strain and take out the spices and orange peel. Blend and serve.
Firdaus by Manali Guha, co-founder, Cafe Staywoke, Gurgaon
Boil ½ tsp green tea, 3-4 saffron strands, ½ tsp marigold flowers and 1 cardamom for two minutes. Strain and serve warm.
Neem and rosemary tea by Nitish Jha, founder, Healthy Souls
Add two neem leaves, one rosmary leaf and ½ tsp turmeric in warm water and boil for two minutes. Strain and enjoy hot.
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