We are in the midst of the autumn season. This time of year brings visions of cozy sweaters, changing leaves and pumpkin spice on everything. What better time of year to curl up with the perfect cup of tea?
According to the science of Ayurveda, the fall season is governed by the elements air and ether (space). These elements bring with them the cool, light, dry and changing qualities that distinguish the season itself. In Ayurveda, autumn is known as vata season. Vata is the subtle energy of movement and it is one of the three doshas in Ayurvedic medicine. When in balance, the energy of vata and its corresponding elements, air and ether, promotes creativity and flexibility. Out of balance, vata produces anxiety, fear and overthinking. The fall season can be a time of enhanced creativity and personal transformation, a time when ideas are more easily accessed from the ethers of our consciousness and flowing freely into our minds. This season can also bring feelings of uncertainty and restlessness, which tends to happen when excessive vata energy dominates the physical, mental and emotional constitution of the individual. What we are seeking friends, is balance. Nothing in scarcity or excess is usually healthy. To help find equilibrium this autumn season, try reaching for a cup of deeply nourishing, Ayurvedic rasa tea.
Anyone new to Ayurveda may be wondering, “What is rasa”? Similar to Western medicine, Ayurvedic medicine concludes that the body is made up of dhatus, or bodily tissues. Rasa dhatu is the first tissue to form in the body after consuming food and it determines the health of all other tissues in the body. Rasa is defined as “the juice of life.” Physically, rasa is equivalent to the western concept of plasma. The Ayurvedic concept of rasa contains white blood cells, saliva, blood serum, and the entire lymphatic system. On a subtle level, rasa corresponds to clarity, fluidity and faith in life. Rasa is the root of our health. It is the preliminary fluid that nourishes us, from the inside out. This fall, as Mother Nature is encouraging us to transition into the next season of our lives, why not choose to give your rasa a little extra love?
Ayurvedic rasa tea is a nutritive tonic that holds moisture in the body and helps build rasa. The ingredients are a combination of demulcent herbs and warming spices. The gelatinous quality produced by the demulcent herbs rehydrates and soothes dry, irritated tissues in the body and the warming spices pacify cold-natured vata. The inherently sweet taste of rasa tea is ideal for vata season because this taste decreases excess vata dosha. During autumn, when air and ether are most dominant, seasonal colds and respiratory issues are a common inconvenience. Help alleviate the symptoms by soothing and coating the sensitive tissue of the throat and lungs with this demulcent, herbal remedy.
Recipe for Ayurvedic Rasa Tea
(makes one cup of tea)
Warming spices of your choice (cinnamon, black cardamom, clove, nutmeg, fresh ginger root)
While water is boiling, find your tea infuser. Place equal parts of licorice root, fennel seeds and fenugreek seeds in the infuser. Add two pinches of slippery elm to the tea infuser as well. Next, decide which warming spices you desire (these spices can be mixed and matched depending on your taste that day but I recommend not adding more than two spices at a time). Add one pinch of each chosen spice and two pinches of marshmallow powder directly into a mug. Once the water is hot, add boiling water to your mug and let the tea infuser and spices seep for several minutes. Remove infuser (and ginger if added) and enjoy!
These herbs and spices can be found at most local health food stores. If you simply do not have time to purchase the ingredients and prepare the tea yourself, another great option with similar ingredients is Yogi Tea Throat Comfort.
Ayurvedic rasa tea is also a powerful medicine for easing a women’s menstrual cycle, especially for ladies with periods that are characterized by vata dosha. This is often indicated by scantier flows and drier, darker blood that presents more clotting. It is recommended to drink rasa tea daily during the week before a vata women’s cycle begins. Rasa tea is also excellent for gastrointestinal issues and for repairing the stomach lining.
Licorice root is not suggested for anyone with high blood pressure, as one of its functions is to gently raise blood pressure in the body. Rasa tea is not recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. In Ayurveda, food is always our first medicine and it is not encouraged to consume excessive amounts of herbs for an extended period of time. Ayurvedic herbs are to be taken consciously and for their medicinal purposes.
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Photo: Sharon Chaney; Ally Snead
Consulted reading: Textbook of Ayurveda: Fundamental Principles of Ayurveda Volume 1 by Vasant Lad
Healthy Happy Sexy: Ayurveda Wisdom for Modern Women by Katie Silcox
Katie Silcox, The Shakti School Ayurveda Certification Program
Mary Thompson http://www.marythompsonayurveda.com/