By Maria Noël Groves, RH (AHG), Registered Clinical Herbalist and Bestselling Author
Maybe you drink chai tea in autumn because it’s warming, spicy, and delicious, and I certainly can’t blame you for that because it’s a favorite of mine for those reasons, too! But, did you know that chai spices like cinnamon, cardamom, and clove are supreme herbs for digestive health? And you can easily use them to flavor additional gut-supportive herbs that blend well and enhance the medicinal action while still tasting delicious!
First, I’d suggest ditching the black tea portion of a standard chai – partly because it’s
often less soothing for the gut and also because the black tea will make a simmered or long-steeped chai blend taste terrible. Then, swap it out for cut and sifted marshmallow root. You could use marshmallow powder, but it turns to mucous-like slime in water – this is excellent for the gut but a little off putting. The chopped up roots (cut and sifted) offer gentler healing properties and a pleasant, velvety mouthfeel to the tea. Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis) has a mild, sweet flavor that smooths out the spices while soothing gut irritation and inflammation and promoting healing. The mucilage has this beneficial effect. It’s my absolute favorite herbal tea to support people with gastritis, reflux, GERD, ulcers, and while weaning off antacid/proton-pump inhibitor drugs (with a doctor’s supervision and guidance). You will notice some benefits immediately, but the real magic happens with long-term use. It extracts best in tea. Meanwhile, the spices stimulate healthy digestion, reduce inflammation, and discourage pathogens.
- 1 heaping teaspoon cut and sifted dried marshmallow root
- 2 cinnamons sticks (cinnamon powder will also turn to slime)
- 7 whole cloves
- 2 cardamom pods
- 1 star anise pod
Now, brew the tea in one of four ways, using 16 ounces of water. Feel free to play around to find out which method you like best and is most convenient for your lifestyle. It can be drunk hot/reheated, room temperature, or cold.
- Cover the herbs with cold water in a French press or jar. Let steep overnight on the counter. Strain and drink that day. You’ll get mucilage and milder spice flavor.
- Cover herbs with hot water in a French press or jar. Let steep overnight on the counter. Strain and drink that day. You’ll get good mucilage and stronger spice flavor.
- In a well-insulated thermos that keeps tea hot for hours, cover the herbs in boiling hot water. Let steep at least 1 hour (longer is better) before straining to drink. This gets even stronger spice flavor but not as much mucilage.
- Simmer the herbs for 20 minutes, then strain. This offers the most potent spice flavor but the least amount of mucilage.
You could easily add other ingredients like plantain leaf, ginger, rose petals, fennel seeds, and a pinch of licorice to this tea blend, but the above blend is nice and simple and comes out great. It’s well tolerated by almost anyone and can be enjoyed as a tasty beverage tea even if you don’t have any particular digestive issues. Some people get a bit gassy from the mucilage; this is rare with cut and sifted herb, but if it happens to you, you can swap out the marshmallow root for marshmallow leaf.
Join me for a lunchtime webinar about “Soothing Herbs & Gut Repair” on Wednesday, November 20 at 1 pm Eastern Time! We’ll go deeper into the healing herbs and how to craft your own tea blend. https://www.herbsociety.org/hsa-learn/hsa-webinars/
Maria Noël Groves, RH (AHG) is the bestselling author of the award-winning Body into Balance (now a core textbook in herb schools across the country) and Grow Your Own Herbal Remedies as well as the owner of Wintergreen Botanicals Herbal Clinic & Education Center in New Hampshire. She writes and teaches nationally about herbal medicine and offers both on-site and distance herbal study courses and health consultations. She’s a graduate of the Southwest School of Botanical Medicine and Sage Mountain among others and has more than 20 years of experience in herbalism. She’s an adjunct instructor for the Herbal Academy and a guest presenter at the Maryland University of Integrative Health, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy, the American Holistic Nursing Association, and other schools and organizations. She melds evidence-based medicine, traditional Western herbalism, food-based nutrition, and personal clinical experience and presents at national herb and health conferences including the International Herbal Symposium, American Herbalists Guild Symposium, Great Lakes Herb Faire, New England Women’s Herbal Conference, the Mother Earth News Fair, and the Mountain Rose Herbs Free Herbalism Project. She’s a regular contributor to Herb Quarterly, Mother Earth Living, Mother Earth News, Taste for Life, and Remedies magazines. Learn more about herbal medicine as well as her classes, consultations, and to buy signed copies of her books with bonus goodies at https://wintergreenbotanicals.com
Herb Society of America Medical Disclaimer … It is the policy of The Herb Society of America not to advise or recommend herbs for medicinal or health use. This information is intended for educational purposes only and should not be considered as a recommendation or an endorsement of any medical or health treatment.