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. 😉
So 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).
According 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 …
“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 …
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