9 Best Teas To Boost Your Immunity And Help You Relax This Fall

Teas are more powerful than you may think.

October 4, 2017
Larell drinking tea
Larell Scardelli

Well, it’s happening. The leaves are falling and if you listen closely, sweaters sing gleefully from the back of our closets. Our mugs are giddy too, because there’s no better way to warm up to fall than with a cup of tea.

“Hot teas are an easy way to incorporate a ritual into your fall days and evenings by slowing down and practicing a bit of self-care,” says Zoe Kissam, herbalist at Traditional Medicinals. It’s important to prioritize the very natural need to sleep and consume nourishment like broth, root vegetables, and hot tea.

(Brag your love of gardening with the Organic Life 2018 Wall Calendar, featuring gorgeous photographs, cooking tips and recipes, plus how to eat more—and waste less—of what's in season.)

What Happens To Our Body In The Fall

“Between seasons, nights are often cool and damp while the days are warm and dry,” explains Erin Casperson, Dean of the School of Ayurveda at Kripalu. We recognize this shift as we bundle up for the crisp morning then de-layer as the day goes on.

This dryness and temperature change sends a signal to the body that we are changing season, but not quite in a season yet, says Casperson. The concept of the juncture between seasons is known in Ayurveda as rtusandhi: a time of change, as well as a time to pause and reflect.

As for your body? This temperature shifting "can cause restlessness, irregular digestion, and dried out mucus membranes,” explains Casperson. It’s this dryness in particular that leaves our once protected nasal, lung, and digestive passages susceptible to dust, pollen, and microbes, ultimately leading to sickness.

Related: 6 Teas You Should Be Using For Clearer Skin

The funny thing is, our bodies know exactly what they need. So you may think craving a warm cup of tea in the fall is routine or tradition. But the truth is our bodies are actively craving the physical heat.

“The most important factor when looking at any spice or herb is weather it is heating or cooling,” explains Casperson. In Ayurveda, the terms "warmth" or "heat" speaks to the property of the herb itself and what it does in the body. Some of the following herbs, like Tulsi, do a good job at stimulating that fire and boosting immunity. Other herbs may have an inherent "cooling" property, like mint, but provide other benefits like boosting digestion.

Below, some favorite fall teas from practitioners, tea masters, and organic herbalists to help your body adjust to the changing season.

Related: I Drank Matcha Tea Instead Of Coffee Every Morning For A Week And Here’s What Happened

mint tea
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Mint

According to TCM, the lung is the dominant organ in the fall,” explains Dr. Vincent Caruso, Jr., D.C. owner of the Traditional Chinese Medicine and chiropractic practice New Jersey Total Health. Our lungs have a language of their own to let us know they are out of balance, like allergies, coughing, and phlegm or mucus buildup. Mint does a great job of supporting the lung function and boosting our digestive system. “This combination helps to strengthen immunity, which is especially useful in the cooler weather when we want to support the lungs.”

Related: 7 Surprising Health Benefits Of Mint

chai tea
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Clove

Many common herbs and spices have true health benefits, says Kelly Zajac, owner of the independent tea company Tudor House Tea & Spice. Take clove for instance. It has a bunch of supportive functions—it has anti-fungal, antibacterial, and analgesic properties. It’s also full of antioxidants and breaks up phlegm. Steeped alone, it may be intense, bitter, and pungent. Instead, Zajac recommends drinking via a blend, like her organic Ayurvedic Chai, which has a mix of clove, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, and black pepper, all of which further support the blood, colon, and nervous system.

Related: 4 Healing Ayurvedic Recipes That Are Simple To Make

 

ashwagandha tea
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Ashwagandha

“I love adaptogenic herbs for their ability to adapt to what we need in the moment,” says Sarah Scarborough, a tea connoisseur of fifteen years and owner of Firepot Nomadic Teas. “They’re especially important, because autumn is a hectic time and we can easily get run down.” A little reminder: adaptogenic herbs are said to help our body cope with stress. (Learn more about adaptogens and how to use them.)

In this case, cold, allergies, or respiratory illness. Ashwagandha, Scarborough’s favorite adaptogen, increases stamina and boosts immunity during the onset of cold and flu season. The herb is bitter, so consider trying it in a blend like House of Peace, or try some plain organic Ashwagandha tea with some honey to sweeten it.

Related: This Powerful Ancient Herb Counters Stress Naturally And Safely

elderflower tea
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Elderflower

Elderflower is known to be an immune-boosting herb. It has antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral properties, which means it’s helpful for reducing sinus inflammation due to allergies, explains Zajac.

Elderberry, the sweet fruit of the Elderflower bush, is just as powerful. The healing properties are similar and make a fruity stand-alone tea (you can even dry out your own Elderberries for a DIY tea). “It’s been used in traditional medicine for ages and is one of my favorites to boost immunity this time of year,” says Scarborough. Give her Hibiscus Elixir a try. It combines elderberries, ginger, hibiscus, and rose hips, which are full of vitamin c for cold season support. Both parts of the Elderflower plant are a diuretic, so expect frequent visits to the bathroom.

Related: 9 Fruits And Vegetables That Are Natural Diuretics—No Pills Necessary

slippery elm bark tea
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Slippery elm bark

“This medicinal tea came to my attention through working with vocalists,” says Sky White, former musician and owner of the Cincinnati-based company Wendigo Tea Co. “I always thought herbal teas were silly and boring, but have met hundreds of professional vocalists that relied on variations of Slippery Elm Bark teas.”

For the non-musician out there, this herb is particularly helpful for reducing the inflammation surrounding the vocal cords, which reduces coughing and helps the body heal itself faster. It works by coating the mucilaginous membranes in the body acting as a demulcent to reduce inflammation and pain in the throat, explains White. The best part? This naturally sweet brew has the same anti-inflammatory effect all the way down the digestive tract to ease discomfort from Urinary Tract Infections and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Give White’s over-powered organic version, Siren, a try.

Related: 5 Herbs And Supplements That Can Seriously Improve Your Digestion

tulsi tea
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Tulsi

Part of the mint family, Tulsi, also known as Holy Basil, is known as one of the most sacred plants of India. It is adaptogenic, so it helps strengthen the function of all organ systems and supports circulation and respiratory health, says Casperson. It’s no surprise that it’s one of her favorite fall herbs. She grows it preemptively in the summer. (Here's how to grow your own tea.)

“What I really like about it for fall is that it is a carminative— it is warming and it helps to turn on the dialed down digestive fire from the summer,” she says. “This means less gas, bloating, and digestive woes.” Don’t forget, in Ayurveda, balanced digestion (think regular bowel movements, energy after eating, and no indigestion) promotes a strong immune system. Casperson recommends drinking 1-2 cups of Organic India’s Tulsi tea a day.

ginger tea
7/9 by Elena Veselova/getty
Ginger

This knotty little herb is widely used in Ayurveda and TCM for soothing an upset tummy. (Here are 7 surprising benefits of eating more ginger.) “It’s great after a meal or overindulging in one too many holiday cookies,” Kissam says. Besides warming and soothing digestion, ginger has anti-inflammatory properties, is full of antioxidants, reduces muscle soreness, fights infections, and boosts the immune and lymphatic systems. All great for warding off colds in the fall. It’s best described as zesty, spicy, and slightly sweet. Give this Traditional Medicinals Organic Ginger Aid tea a try next time your stomach is gurgling.

Going to make your own ginger and lemon tea? Watch the video below for a great trick to peel your ginger with a spoon.

lavender tea
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Lavender

“An herbal winter wellness regime should go beyond immune support to also include stress management,” says Kissam. Since the need to slow down coupled with the craziness of holidays can lead to overextending one’s self and overindulging on rich and fatty foods, she recommends this Traditional Medicinal Lavender tea. It’s a strong sleep aid. Big bonus, it’s coupled with chamomile, another nervous system supporter.

Related: 7 Cool Things We Never Knew Lavender Could Do

 

black tea
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Black tea

“The best teas to drink in the fall are darker teas, which help warm the body and the gut as the weather gets cool,” says Simon Cheng, Founder and CEO of Pique Tea. There are many varieties, like Earl Grey, English Breakfast, or his Organic Ginger Peach Black Tea. Black tea helps our bodies adjust and generate more warmth, explains Cheng. They are loaded with antioxidants, have a calming effect on the your stomach, and have anti-bacterial properties. If you’re a coffee-lover looking for a smooth caffeine transition, consider switching for the season.

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