Adaptogenic Teas



There are a variety of ways to take in tonic adaptogenic herbs.  One of the best ways to take them is via teas.  Hot water extractions provide a great template for a lot of these tonic herbs.  For one, herbal infused warm water is gentle and easy to digest.  The herbal constituents are more easily absorbed in the gut and even if there is inflammation and digestive problems, gentle tonic herbs are still going to be helpful.  This differs from taking herbs in capsule form.  Often times the gut is challenged to breakdown the plant matter and much of the herb can go to waste as it is carried away via elimination.  That’s why I really promote taking herbs in the form of teas and broths.  Its likely the most effective way of taking herbs.

So here are some ideas for some of my favorite adaptogenic herbal single and formula tonics that one can take in tea form.



Jiaogulan Tea

This is one of the most amazing and underutilized herbs available to

us.  Jiaogulan is  indigenous to Southern China and was commonly used by people native to that region but was not common in most traditional Chinese herbal medicine formulas.  Thats surprising because it has so many amazing properties and is one of the most enjoyable herbs to drink by itself as a tea.

This is an herb that has commonly been used as a general rejuvenating adaptogenic tonic to combat fatigue, relieve stress, improve stamina, libido and improve memory, concentration and cognitive acuity.

In the 70’s researchers discovered that it contains an enormous array of  saponin constituents (including gypenosides similar to ginsenosides found in ginseng) that are linked to its tonic adaptogenic effect.  But while ginseng is often too heating, stimulating and strong for many people, jiaogulan is well tolerated by most people with rare side effects.  Jiaogulan is also useful for lowering blood pressure and strengthening cardiac health by preventing heart muscle disease, stabilizing an erratic heartbeat and preventing blood clotting.

Jiaogulan also stimulates the immune system to function optimally and is useful for fighting off colds, the flu and helping in cases of chronic bronchitis.  Interestingly, this is an herbal tea one can take in the morning for increased stamina, but also later in the evening to help one relax.  It has a bi-directional effect on the nervous system, both stimulating and calming. It is one of the most useful plants to take regularly for promoting good, restful sleep.

This is an amazing herb that works almost as a panacea, is gentle, can be tolerated by most anyone and tastes delicious as a regularly consumed tea.  It is also being grown in an ethical manner in various parts of Asia and is relatively cheap.   It is an herb that I would suggest to people who are worn out, frazzled, stressed with heat signs such as psoriasis, insomnia, poor memory and anxiety.  But it is also a tea that I would suggest to anyone as a pick me up, a yummy tasting beverage.

To make jiaogulan tea, simply take a tablespoon of herb and place in a pint glass and add then add hot water.  Allow it to infuse for 5-10 minutes.  The longer it infuses the more bitter it becomes.  You can add green tea, black tea or mate to this as they blend well with jiaogulan and   to make it more stimulating


Holy basil tea 

Holy Basil is revered as one of the most important herbs in Ayurveda. 

It has alternately been named things like “The Queen of Herbs” or “The Elixir of Life.”  Holy Basil is considered a “rasayana”, a supreme tonic used to treat colds, flu, ulcers, poor digestion, inflammation, diabetes chronic fatigue, depression, arthritis, respiratory distress, bronchitis, asthma, infections, eczema and psoriasis amongst other conditions.  It is rightfully seen as a panacea and beyond that it is a delightful tea to drink.

There are actually several distinct types of holy basil.   The Krishna species has purple tinged leaves and is seen as the most potent and strengthening of the three.  The Rama species is more short and heavily flowered and is often grown here in the States.  The Vana species is known as the “Forest type”, is highly aromatic, grows taller than the others and has similar stress busting, immune enhancing properties.

In terms of mental health, holy basil is one of the premier herbs to offer to those who are deeply stressed, overwhelmed, anxious and often shut down, tired and anxious.  Holy Basil helps lift the spirits, calms anxiety, improves resiliency, vitality and raises energy levels.  The taste and smell of it is is therapeutic as well and I highly recommend taking this herb as a warm tea.

To make a tea, add 2-3 teaspoons of herb to a pint glass and then fill with hot water.  Infuse for 10 minutes and then strain.  Holy basil is also an herb that goes well with a lot of other herbs.  It can be mixed with gentle stimulant herbs such as spearmint and lavender or with caffeine rich herbs such as green tea and mate.  You can also add almond milk or cow milk to enrich and soften the taste.


Schisandra Berry Tea 

Schisdandra is one of the premier adaptogens that helps improve stamina, endurance and resiliency while decreasing fatigue and anxiety.  Schisandra  berry tea can be added to hawthorn and goji berries to make a delicious berry tea that will also protect the heart, reduce systemic inflammation and lift the mood.   This is a great gentle adaptogenic tea that anyone can try.


2 tsp schisandra

1 tsp hawthorn berries

4-8 goji berries.

Add ingredients to pint glass.  Add hot water and steep for 20 minutes.  Strain out and drink.


Rhodiola Coffee

Rhodiola is one of the most bitter and astringent herbs out there so it really needs to be mellowed with other herbs to make a beverage taste potable.  Even then this beverage may be too bitter and strong for some.


2 tsp Rhodiola

1 tsp  eleuthero

1 tsp burdock root

1/2 tsp licorice

Add ingredients to small pot and add a pint and a half of water (24 ounces.)  Then bring to a boil and simmer for 40 minutes.  At the end you should have about a pint of coffee.  This “coffee” will energize, stimulate, strengthen, nourish and help improve mood and wellbeing.  Rhodiola is one of the most potent adaptogens available to us and has pretty strong stimulating and uplifting qualities.  For some it can be too stimulating and for that reason it is a better herb for those who feel dull, cold, lethargic and slow with difficulty motivating.