Sebastian Pole, co-founder and herb director at Pukka shares his top tipples to fight the common cold
“Probably the best tea of all, it tickles parts of the body that other herbal teas just can’t reach. I use it to wake up my digestive system, warm me up and help me be present in the moment,” explains Sebastian Pole, co-founder and herb director at Pukka. “Ginger is my go-to herb whenever I feel a chill wind blowing.”
To make one cup you'll need:
5g fresh ginger root
Scrub the ginger or lightly peel. If you choose to peel ginger, use a teaspoon to scrape the skin away (it’s the best way by far – granny’s top tip).
Slice the ginger into fine slivers and put in a pot. Add 250ml of freshly boiled filtered water.
Leave to steep for 10–15 minutes. You can then strain it, or you can leave the ginger in.
If you want to make the tea stronger, you can simmer the ginger in a pan with the lid on for a few minutes.
In Ayurveda, ginger is known as the ‘universal medicine’. Digestion’s best friend, ginger is warming and spicy with thermogenic properties that increase metabolism. Its spiciness is not only delicious but also helps us to absorb more nutrients from our food. It contains the wonderfully named gingerols and shogaols – these natural plant-protectors have been shown to stimulate the circulation and reduce the stickiness of our platelets to give our blood a healthier profile. Shogaols in particular have antiemetic properties, helping to relieve nausea.
If you have any pain on your body you can make a flannel soak with this tea. Make the tea, soak a flannel in the hot infusion, ring out any excess fluids and apply to the area. I use this at the first sign of a sore throat and apply to the chest and throat until the skin is reddened, or use it to soothe painful joints or muscles. A flannel soak is also useful for reducing period pain – just place the hot ginger-tea soaked flannel over the painful area.
“A fresh and uplifting tea to awaken your lungs and help you breathe. Use this if you have a cough, are feeling tight-chested, or you just want to relish the joy of breathing a bit more deeply,” says Sebastian.
To make two to three cups of lung-nourishing tea you'll need:
4g lemongrass leaf
3g thyme leaf
3g tulsi leaf
2g ginger root powder
1 drop of peppermint oil
Honey to taste
Put all of the ingredients (except for the honey) in a pot.
Add 500ml freshly boiled filtered water. Leave to steep for 10–15 minutes, then strain.
Add a dash of honey to taste.
Beautifully aromatic, this fragrant grass showers the senses and encourages them to wake up! Its citrus zing opens your lungs and helps you to breathe.
Thyme is magic for the lungs: it brings strength and helps open where there is mucus and obstruction.
In Ayurveda, this sacred leaf is full of prana, which helps to bring the breath of life. It has a natural ability to move your energy upwards and outwards, helping to dilate the bronchioles and let the air in and out. If you don’t have tulsi, replace it with basil.
Stimulating ginger lends a warming heat that opens up your chest. The pungent essential oils are also good at clearing phlegm.
A specific tonic for the lungs, aniseed helps to remove stuck mucus. A low digestive fire is often the cause of this lung congestion, so by kindling your digestive fire, warming aniseed helps to remove the tendency of getting bunged-up, treating the root of the problem.
Peppermint leaf has about one percent essential oil, so when it’s made into a pure oil it is extremely concentrated and far more intense than the fresh leaves. It opens and clears the head and nasal passages.
Used in Ayurveda as a messenger, honey helps carry the other herbs to where they need to act in the lungs.
You can use this tea as a steam inhalation as well. Put the herbs in a large bowl, add boiled water, put a towel over your head and around the bowl so no steam leaks out. Breathe this in for five minutes and your respiration will be radically transformed.
“This is one of the great herbal tea classics, and thanks to my mum, one of the first ones I ever sipped,” recalls Sebastian. “I have slightly tweaked the recipe so it’s more beneficial for fighting lurgies. Use it if you have a chill or feel a bit under the weather.”
To make two cups of a herbal classic you'll need:
10g fresh ginger root
1g turmeric root powder
Lemon juice a twist per cup
Manuka honey 1 tsp per cup
Grate the ginger and put it in a pot with the rest of the ingredients except the lemon and honey.
Add 500ml freshly boiled filtered water. Leave to steep for 5–10 minutes, then strain.
Add the lemon and honey to each cup.
The wonderful, digestion-aiding ginger boosts circulation and takes the body’s vitality up a couple of notches. Its stimulating warmth lends a subtle spicy tang.
Light and purifying, these summer blossoms help to cleanse by increasing circulation to the periphery, which induces a very mild sweat, helping to halt the spread of any seasonal viruses.
A close relative of ginger, the golden super-spice turmeric is relied on in India as a gentle herbal antibiotic useful for infections. It also makes this tea look like liquid gold.
Pleasingly mouth-watering, lemon juice adds a refreshing tang to the tea and cuts through stuck mucus. Lemons are packed with natural vitamin C and immune-enhancing bioflavonoids that both taste and do good.
Sweet, soothing and nourishing, manuka honey combines the therapeutic benefits of honey with the antimicrobial qualities of the manuka tree. This is a natural powerhouse in a pot.
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