The Original Yogi Tea Recipe

Believe it or not, I was interested in the ritual of afternoon tea long before I actually started drinking tea!  I know that is a bit of an oxymoron, like hanging out at a coffee shop but not drinking the coffee.  Since I don’t drink coffee (I can’t handle the caffeine in coffee), I never gave tea a chance.  It’s one of the reasons it took me so long to “discover” the joys of afternoon tea.

I only started drinking tea in 2010 after meeting M. who owns a tea shop.  M. convinced me to try drinking white tea.  Surprisingly, I had no adverse reaction so that was the beginning of my tea craze!  From white tea, I graduated to drinking black teas, green teas, oolong, pu-erh, you name it!  Today, I enjoy drinking tea just as much, sometimes more (!), than I enjoy the foods of afternoon tea.  A pot of good tea deserves its own spotlight.

Coincidentally (maybe not … are there coincidences?), M. also introduced me to Kundalini yoga 2 years ago and I learned that Yogi Bhajan, the spiritual teacher who introduced Kundalini yoga to the US, was also the mastermind behind the Yogi Tea brand.  If you are a tea drinker, then you are familiar with Yogi brand teas.  Who doesn’t love the inspirational messages found on the tea tags of Yogi Tea bags?  Isn’t that the main reason we all drink it?  I do. 😉
0129171646So here comes a confession: I don’t like Yogi Teas.  Many of their tea blends contain two ingredients that I’m not fond of: Licorice root and stevia (I don’t like my tea sweet!  And yes, stevia is used in Ayurveda!).  Licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra), a commonly used herb in Ayurveda, has many benefits including calming ulcers, boosting immunity, lower blood glucose, and easing sore throats and cough.  I don’t like licorice root because, for some odd reason, it throws off my tastebuds and temporarily, all I can taste is a metallic sweetness, akin to the aftertaste I get from aspartame, stevia, and other artificial sweeteners.  Yuck!  It also increases saliva production in my mouth which is an unpleasant sensation.  I think I am sensitive to it but I can’t find any information supporting such side effects.  Since it’s unpleasant, I avoid it.  Likewise, if you are pregnant, have heart disease, high blood pressure, or take certain medications, you may want to avoid consuming licorice root.

Back to Kundalini yoga … after class, my teacher always serves “yogi tea.”  Drinking tea after class with your teacher and fellow students is a longtime tradition in Kundalini yoga.  The act of sharing tea together is intended to foster community.  The tea itself is a tonic for the whole body and meant to revitalize and warm the body.  In the beginning, I didn’t want to try the “yogi tea” because I equated it with Yogi Tea, the brand.  Then my teacher revealed that she made the tea herself and that got my attention.  Apparently, there was an “original” yogi tea recipe that started the Yogi Tea brand!  This original yogi tea recipe included 5 traditional Ayurvedic spices: Ginger root (anti-inflammatory), black pepper (blood purifier), cardamom seed (aids digestion), clove bud (strengthens the nervous system), and cinnamon bark (aids in calcium absorption).
dsc07218-smallAccording to the Yogi tea website, when blended and brewed, these 5 “delicious and aromatic spices leave you feeling vibrant and alive, while supporting overall well-being.”  A hint of black tea supports energy and milk is added to complement the spices (soy or other milk substitutes may be used–I like almond milk).  In a nutshell, yogi tea was created “to deliver a healthful benefit to the body and a delicious flavor to delight the spirit.”

The original yogi tea recipe is no longer on the Yogi tea website but I found it in the Internet Archive (long live the Internet Archive!).  I’m documenting it here because I don’t want to lose the recipe again.  Things are never permanent in cyberspace …


This beautiful Japanese bone china tea cup was a gift from my friend Lady S. It belonged to her mother who was a woman after my own heart so I am very honored to have such a lovely memory of her!

“Feel Good, Be Good, Do Good.”
–The guiding principle of Yogi tea

The original Yogi tea recipe
(yield: one 8 oz. serving)

10 ounces of water (about 1 1/3 cups)
3 whole cloves
4 whole green cardamom pods, cracked
4 whole black peppercorns
2 slices fresh ginger root
½ stick cinnamon
¼ teaspoon black tea
½ cup milk or milk substitute

Using a large pot, bring water to boiling and carefully add spices. Cover and boil 15 to 20 minutes, then add black tea. Let sit for 3-5 minutes, then add the milk and return to a boil. Upon reaching a boil, carefully remove from heat and strain. If desired, add honey for sweetness.

The original yogi tea recipe is something I make and enjoy on a weekly basis.  I drank it this past winter when I caught a cold and it seemed to help calm my coughs.  The ginger is always warming and comforting where my stomach is concerned.  I drink it cold or hot, any which way!  It’s caffeine free so I even drink it at night as a dessert tea or night cap.  Putting aside the supposed health benefits, it just tastes darn good!  NOTE: The Yogi tea version of “yogi tea,” Classic India Spice Yogi Tea, has a different formula than the original yogi tea so I highly recommend trying the recipe above!

I have yet to read the Teachings of Yogi Bhajan (one of these days!) but I’ll leave you here with one of my favorite quotations from the guru himself …

by Yogi Bhajan

Yogi Bhajan (Photo: Source not identified)

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Ginger tea

Ginger tea can be a wonderful addition to everyday tea drinking and even afternoon tea.  I know that ginger tea doesn’t contain any tea (i.e., leaves of Camellia sinensis) and is more properly categorized as a tisane or herbal infusion but I feel it deserves a spotlight for its healing properties.

Made by LB

My former big boss is a quilter and she made this lovely panel as a farewell gift.  Little did she know that ginger is one of my favorite teas!  I love the stitched steam coming out of the spout of the teapot!

I admit, I am not a big fan of ginger, especially when I accidentally bite into a chunk of it in a Chinese stir-fry or discover slivers of it in my masala potatoes.  I like gingerbread and ginger snaps but … that doesn’t really count!  I only started appreciating ginger a couple of years ago when I got sick with gastritis.  Out of desperation, I started consuming ginger in drink form.  For me, ginger tea has been a lifesaver when it comes to combatting nausea and soothing the stomach.  Since then, I have enjoyed a cup a ginger tea everyday, usually before bedtime.

My favorite way to enjoy ginger tea is, of course, using fresh ginger.  When I run out of fresh ginger, or don’t have time to grate or slice the ginger, I use ready tea bags or dried ginger.  With the exception of the dried ginger, I’ve found that the flavor of ready tea bags pales greatly in comparison to fresh ginger.  However, they are great to have on hand and the benefits are comparable to fresh ginger.

Below, I have listed my favorite ginger teas in order of preference.  As you know, there are many, many ginger “teas” out there but I only buy tea bags that have ginger as the sole ingredient.  Therefore, you will not find the more popular tea brands on my list such as Tazo, Yogi, Numi, Zhena’s Gypsy, Stash, Choice, or Bigelow, which all contain other ingredients such as licorice root, mint, lemon, lemongrass, chamomile, etc.  Only 100% ginger for me! 🙂 This list is a work-in-progress since there are more ginger teas I would like to sample.  I will add future reviews here.

  1. Fresh ginger: This is my favorite way to enjoy ginger tea.  Peeled, sliced or grated, added to a cup of boiling water.  I like using the vegetable peeler to get thin slices of ginger and I add as many slices as I like (usually the equivalent of a 1 inch block per cup of water).  For grated ginger, I add it to a tea infuser to steep in boiling water.  You may remove the ginger before drinking the tea but I leave it in the tea for maximum flavor.  My talented friend, S. made this ginger grater for me.  Isn’t it beautiful?DSC05753 (Small)
  2. Penzeys sliced ginger root: My friend L., who is also a big fan of ginger tea, turned me onto dried ginger.  I have tried a few brands but I keep coming back to Penzeys, which tastes the sweetest and freshest.  Some dried ginger root tastes bitter and has no “bite.”  Having a bag of this in the pantry is soooo handy!  Just drop a few slices into boiling water!  I also use it for my masala chai when I don’t have fresh ginger.
  3. Tea Gallerie Ginger Root: I like the flavor of Tea Gallerie’s ginger root but since it’s in bits and pieces rather than slices, it requires a tea infuser or strainer.  That makes it a less convenient choice if you’re on the go (unless you have a fancy commuter tea mug with built-in strainer!).  It’s still a great backup to have in your pantry due to the longer shelf life of dried vs. fresh ginger.
    DSC05755 (Small) (2)
  4. Maui Sun Tea: This is my favorite bagged ginger tea.  I received this as a gift from M. and T. upon their return from Hawaii.  Not only is it organic but it is the sweetest ginger you can get in a tea bag!  I will be very sad when I run out of this. 😦 It’s great both hot and iced.
    DSC05760 (Small)
  5. Triple Leaf Ginger Tea Bags: This is a less expensive option to Maui Sun Tea, and not as good.  This is my emergency tea bag.
  6. Traditional Medicinals Organic Ginger Tea: This is one of the first ginger tea bags I tried and I still use it as my emergency tea.

Do you have a favorite ginger tea that’s not on the list above?

Here are some ginger tea bags that I don’t recommend (alphabetical order).  I have nothing more to say about them except they just taste bad!:

  1. Alvita Teas Organic Herbal Tea Bags Ginger Root
  2. Gold Kili All Natural Ginger Beverage Brewing Bags

Other ginger teas:

Prince of Peace Ginger Honey Crystals: This is a 100% ginger tea but with sugar and honey added.  I make an exception for this because the ginger flavor is good and spicy.  Again, it’s great when you’re in a hurry and when you feel like having a sweet treat.  It is a little too sweet for me so I add extra water.

I wanted to end this post by highlighting some benefits of ginger from one of my favorite cookbook authors, Nina Simonds, who wrote, A Spoonful of Ginger: Irresistible, Health-Giving Recipes from Asian Kitchens.

Key Benefits of ginger:

  • Ginger reduces all symptoms associated with motion sickness including dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and cold sweating and is even more effective than Dramamine. [though my sister would disagree with this!]
  • Ginger contains very potent anti-inflammatory compounds which explains why it provides reductions in pain levels for people suffering from osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis when consumed regularly.
  • Ginger can not only be warming on a cold day, but can help promote healthy sweating, which is often helpful during colds and flu. German researchers have recently found that sweat contains a potent germ-fighting agent that may help fight off infections.
  • Chewing on a fresh piece of ginger relieves a sore throat, and hoarseness.

So, what do you think of an afternoon tea featuring all things ginger?  🙂  Ginger tea, ginger soup, ginger scones, ginger jam, ginger cakes …!

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