by Jiling Lin
Here’s two of my favorite cold season drinks to help warm you up from the inside out: fire cider from the Northeastern Appalachians and Chai tea from India. Both of these drinks have their basic set of ingredients. But, like any good recipe, they gain character as you experiment with and personalize them. Enjoy!
Fire cider was given its name due to its fiery spicy contents, usually infused in apple cider vinegar. Simply fill a glass jar with equal parts of chopped up garlic, ginger, onions, horseradish and cayenne or hot peppers. You can then add whatever herbs you may wish to infuse, such as bitters (ie. burdock or dandelion root) or berries (ie. jujube dates or manzanita berries). Just make sure that it’s mostly the base ingredients, so that it’s still spicy hot. Then, pack it all down with a fork, and cover with raw apple cider vinegar with an extra inch of vinegar above the herbs. You can also add raw honey for an extra anti-microbial, nutritive and sweet boost. Let sit for 2 weeks, strain, then rebottle. Label “Fire Cider” with red marker, and drink a shot glass full everyday as a general circulatory stimulant, digestive stimulant and cold-season immune tonic. You can also integrate fire cider into your food in other ways, such as via salad dressing. Play with how many peppers or horseradishes you add to modulate the heat to your preference.
Taking the train all over India, I became accustomed to the sound of the Chai-vendor screaming, “Chai-ya, Chai-ya, Chai-ya!” in most towns I passed through. The basic ingredients of Chai include cinnamon, cardamon, ginger, clove and black pepper. All of these plants are energetically warming circulatory stimulants, as well as digestive stimulants. I like to mix other herbs into my Chai blends depending on my desired herbal actions. Here’s one of my favorite recipes developed by my friend and fellow herbalist, Lauren Stauber. This blend includes relaxing and uplifting rose, decadent and sensual cacao, and anti-inflammatory tumeric for an anti-oxidant, circulatory stimulating, digestive and delicious Chai blend.
|Rose petals||1 part|
|Cacao nibs||1 part|
|Ginger||1/2 to 1 part to taste|
|Licorice||1/2 to 1 part to taste|
|Cardamon pod, crushed||1/8 part|
|Black pepper||1/8 part|
|Tumeric powder||add 1/4 to 1/2 tsp per TBSP of herbs|
(Ingredients are listed in parts by volume or proportions.)
Decoct (simmer) 1 TBSP herbs plus Turmeric per 1 C liquid. I like 1/2 water and 1/2 fatty milk. Dairy or non-dairy milk works fine, but this tea needs some fat to be most effective. With less fatty milks such as rice or almond, add a dollop of coconut oil or ghee. Simmer on a low flame for 10 to 20 minutes, covered. Strain and sweeten with honey if desired. For stronger preparations, feel free to add more herbs per cup. The whole blend can also be ground up and used as a concentrated powdered Chai. Enjoy staying warm through the cold season!