These are a few of my top warming spices for winter teas. I love them both for their sweet, spicy taste and medicinal qualities: they warm up your insides, get your blood pumping, and add some nutritional benefits that entice you to add them to your holiday baking. Plus, kids can easily help out!
History: The scientific name is Syzygium aromaticum. Cloves come from the clove tree, an evergreen native to the Indonesian Island of Malaku.
A little history side note: In many countries in Europe and Canada, kids will poke cloves into oranges and hang them around the house during the winter months. It is a fabulous craft that keeps the kids busy and adds a lovely holiday scent to the home.
Health benefits: Eugenol is the active component in cloves that functions as an anti-inflammatory. It is an excellent source of the trace mineral manganese, needed for the bones, liver, kidneys and pancreas. It aids in forming connective tissues, and positively affects fat and carbohydrate production and blood sugar regulation.
A surprise health benefit: Clove oil rubbed into a teething baby’s gum can aid in numbing and reducing any teething pain.
History: Cardamon is part of the ginger family, comes from India, and is extensively used in curries and Chai tea. In India, it is referred to as, Grains of Paradise.
A little history side note: Cardamon is added to many love potions due to its aphrodisiac effects.
Health benefits: Cardamon cleanses the kidney and bladder, stimulates the digestive juices, and may improve circulation to the lungs, thus helpful in asthmatics and lung infections.
History: Cinnamon is one of the oldest known spices. There are two known types: Chinese and Ceylon; however, Ceylon is slightly sweeter yet more challenging to find in the grocery store.
Health benefits: There are many health benefits to cinnamon. It has anti-microbial properties, and the oil may have an effective preservative for packaged foods. Cinnamon is a widely known benefit in balancing blood sugar balance in the body, and according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, it does this by slowing the time in which the stomach empties after meals.
One of my favourite ways to indulge in all these spices is brewing a pot of chai tea. Many years ago, I was given Cynthia Lair’s book, Feeding the Whole Family. I adore many of her recipes, but her rendition of a chai tea – Yogi Tea – is a family treat.
4 cups of water
10 whole cloves
12 whole cardamon pods
2 sticks of cinnamon
4 slices of fresh ginger, 1/4 inch thick
1 cup of milk – goat, cow, rice, hemp, coconut
Maple syrup or raw honey to taste
Bring water, spices, and ginger root to a boil in a pot. Lower heat and simmer for 15 – 20 minutes. Add milk. Turn off heat and strain into mugs. Add sweetener if desire.