When I first did Kundalini Yoga in 1973, my body was blown away by Breath of Fire, my mind was psychedelicized by the Gong, and my heart was stolen by Yogi Tea, a delicious spicy drink served after every yoga class in the Kundalini Yoga ashram I visited.
Sipping the mug of Yogi Tea was the perfect way to feel “back at home” after my traveling through the astral realms. It was warm, comforting, nourishing and forever became associated in my heart with Kundalini Yoga.
But it was more than a beverage. It was the drink of the Yogi and the original recipe came from my teacher Yogi Bhajan who encouraged us to drink it, share it, and become “healthy, happy and holy.”
What was this magical brew and how did it work?
Based on ancient Ayurvedic knowledge of the health-giving properties of spices, the tea was designed to address all the major systems of the body. It consists of ginger, cinnamon, cloves, black peppercorns, and cardamom.
The cinnamon aided in calcium absorption for the bones the ginger reduced inflammation for the muscles, the cloves build a strong nervous system, the black pepper purifies the blood, and the cardamom aids digestion and elimination.
If you’ve only enjoyed Yogi Tea as a beverage, now is time to meet it, and its ingredients, as a medicine.
Before antibiotics, antivirals, and antiseptics, herbal preparations such as Yogi Tea were used to heal the body and prevent disease.
One of the most potent antiviral natural agents is cloves, a main ingredient in Yoga Tea. Worried about the flu? Have some Yogi Tea. Or if you want to go on the attack, try this natural antiviral preventative:
Take a handful of cloves and soak them in water overnight — no need to boil. First thing in the morning, take 3 or 4 tablespoons of the clove water (not more then 5!), swish it around in your mouth and then swallow. You can make enough for three of four days and keep it in the refrigerator.
“It will save you from a lot of viral diseases,” Yogi Bhajan once said. “Your ears, nose and throat will all be all right. Symptoms will almost not appear. If you do it every year, you will never fall apart.”
Of course Yogi Tea itself contains a powerful clove extract from its preparation. It also contains black peppercorn that has also proven effective in reducing symptoms of colds and flu as well. You can do the black peppercorns by themselves by boiling a 5 or 6 in a half cup of water and taking it by the tablespoon as well (or mix with pomegranate juice for an extra vitamin C rush!).
And if you want to indulge in an overall cleanse or detox regimen, drink 4 to 8 ounces of Yogi Tea, cold and unsweetened (no milk), upon arising. It is a powerful liver flush and it may create temporary nausea the first couple of days until your body cleans out. Then watch for the good results!
High blood sugar? Cinnamon helps. Gas or cramping? Grab the cardamom. Motion sickness or menstrual discomfort? Here’s ginger.
Finally, if you are fasting or eating lightly when sick, drinking Yogi Tea throughout the day keeps your energy up. It is a natural energizer (especially with a little honey) that can get you away from your favorite caffeinated beverage.
Here’s the recipe for a home size serving:
For each cup:
10 ounces of water (about 1 1/3 cups)
3 whole cloves
4 whole green cardamom pods, cracked
4 whole black peppercorns
½ stick cinnamon
¼ teaspoon black tea
½ cup milk
2 slices fresh ginger root
(NOTE: You may use de-caffeinated black tea as the tannin in the tea is a natural and helpful astringent. Milk can be non-dairy or you can add ghee instead. The fat in the milk helps with absorption.)
Bring water to a boil and add spices. Cover and boil 15 to 20 minutes, then add black tea. Let sit for a few minutes, then add the milk and return to a boil. Don’t let it boil over. When it reaches a boil, remove immediately from heat, strain, and sweeten with honey, if desired.
(NOTE: Bring the tea with the dairy milk added back to a boil reduces mucus-forming aspects of the diary and integrates the mixture more powerful. If you use a sweetener (not necessary), add it after the boiling.)