Updated: Mar 29
Teas and Other Infusions with Anti-Inflammatory Effects
Scientific research is showing what wise people have known for generations—we are what we eat (and drink). In today's post, we are going to learn about seven ingredients that have anti-inflammatory properties, meaning that they reduce swelling. Many of them have strong antioxidant properties as well. Antioxidants protect the body from cellular damage caused by free radicals which cause the visible effects of aging and other issues. These ingredients also make delicious additions to our tea collections. Recipes for four suggested combinations are at the bottom of the post.
Turmeric is a staple spice in Indian cuisine. Its brilliant yellow color makes it remarkable—and indeilble. It can even be used a fabric dye. So be careful when cooking or making tea with turmeric, it leaves a mark. In fact, while creating these recipes and taking the photographs for this post, I happened to spill some turmeric on the counter and cleaning it up took quite a bit of scrubbing.
Turmeric has been used in Indian for thousands of years as a culinary spice and as a traditional medicine. Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric; it is also found in cumin. Curcumin has a powerful anti-inflammatory effect and is an antioxidant. Scientific research is proving the beneficial health effects of turmeric. It is the essential ingredient in Indian "golden milk," a tea-like beverage that combines turmeric and other anti-flammtoary spices with milk or a plant-based milk substitute. When Spencer and I interviewed Dr. Michael Greger a few years back, he recommended at least a quarter teaspoon a day to stave off illnesses. Adding it to teas is an easy way to add it to your diet.
Another anti-inflammatory ingredient is ginger. Its oil, gingerol, gives it its anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and antioxidant properties as well as its unique fragrance and flavor. It's even been shown to relieve inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis and. osteoarthritis patients. And, the your mother was right, ginger ale does help settle an upset stomach,
Cinnamon is a very strong antioxidant. It is so powerful, in fact, that it can be used as a food preservative. These antioxidants in cinnamon have anti-inflammatory effects, which can help lower your risk of disease and injury. It has also been shown to help fight off neurodegenerative disease and diabetes.
Like the spices above, honey is a rich source of antioxidants as well as being an anti-inflammatory. It also has a natural antibacterial effect, and local honey which contains small amount of local pollens can help fight off seasonal allergies. Traditionally, people have used honey orally to treat coughs and topically to treat burns and promote wound healing. And, despite it's stickiness, It also can be used as a natural hair condition and hair lightener. (I've tried it; it really works!)
Rose water is made by the process of steam distillation of fresh rose petals. The end result is colorless and aromatic, and it has a long shelf life. This is different than a rose "infusion" or "tea" when the petals are stepped in hot water. See Herbal Tea Garden – Flowers and Herbs for a recipes for rose tea.
Rose water is a common ingredient in Middle Eastern cuisine and is the featured flavor in the dessert Turkish delight. Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, Used topically as a toner, it can help reduce skin redness, prevent additional swelling, and soothe acne. When it is added to plain water to steep tea, it adds fragrance and a mild floral flavor along with fighting inflammation.
Green tea is a true tea, meaning that it is the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. All true teas (black, white, green, oolong, and pu-erh) contain powerful antioxidants called catechins which reduce inflammation. Green tea has the most and therefore the most benefits. I covered green tea and its many of the health benefits of green tea in The Way of Tea – Green Tea and Matcha – Wabi Cha.
Like green tea, white tea is a true tea and contains antioxidants called catechins which reduce inflammation. It has a mild flavor and pairs well with light floral and fruity flavors.
Turmeric-Ginger "Golden Milk" Tea
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup local honey
4 cups hot water
Milk, half and half, vanilla creamer, plant-based milk substitute of your choice, if desired
Bring water to a boil and allow to cool to about 130°F. Pour water into teapot. Stir in turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, and local honey. Serve with milk, half and half, vanilla creamer, plant-based milk substitute of your choice, if desired.
Rose-Ginger Floral Tea
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon crystalized ginger
1 tablespoon dried culinary rose petals
1 drop of culinary jasmine essence (optional)
4 cups hot water
Bring water to a boil and allow to cool to about 130°F. Pour water into teapot over crystalized ginger and dried culinary rose petals. Allow to steep for 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in jasmine essence and ground ginger. Serve with honey and lemon, If desired.
Green Tea with Turmeric
5 bags green tea with ginseng
1 teaspoon turmeric
4 cups hot water (boiled and allowed to cool)
Bring water to boil and cool to about 180°F. Pour water over tea bags and stir in turmeric. Steep for one to two minutes. Serve with honey and lemon, If desired.
White Tea with Rose Water
2 tablespoons loose leaf white tea
½ cup rose water
3 ½ cups water
Combine water and rose water and bring to a boil and cool to about 180°F. Pour water over white tea and steep for four to five minutes. Pour tea through tea strainer and serve with honey and lemon, If desired.
Janae J. Almen is a professional music instructor, composer, sound artist, and freelance writer and editor. She has studied Japanese Tea Ceremony at the Japanese Cultural Center in Chicago, IL and enjoys adding artistry and creativity to the tea table and the kitchen.
Photos and content ©2021 Janae Jean