Winter has hit the Northeast and the flu season is in full swing. I am taking Soul’s elderberry syrup faithfully and echinacea as needed. The best way to prevent the flu is to get plenty of sleep, eat well and build a strong immune system.
I have been experimenting with herbal blends that support the respiratory system and are antioxidant, antiviral, anti-inflammatory and contain vitamin C. My blend this week is Hibiscus Shiso Latte.
Hibiscus is a very popular summer iced tea. It is heart healthy, antioxidant and full of vitamin C. I had it in a blend with rose hips and really liked the flavor so I wanted to try it in other ways. The summer version often has mint and the flavors blend well. During the winter months it is best to eat mostly warm foods. I did not want too many cooling herbs in this blend, so I added shiso.
Shiso is part of the mint family, but it is milder than some of the other mints. It has a high vitamin and mineral content and is used for cough and cold symptoms in Traditional Chinese Medicine.
I used shiso mainly for its flavor. It is slightly minty with a cinnamon basil undertone. It is not easy to find dried, but you can find fresh shiso in Asian markets. I used the green variety, but there is a red shiso that is even more medicinal.
Cinnamon is comforting, warm and fragrant. It is a nice addition to a wintry beverage. It is a powerhouse herb that is antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, helps prevent heart disease and cancer and fights infection. It is warming and balances the coolness of the formula.
Last, but definitely not least, is cardamom. I love, love, love this herb and its sexy, exotic flavor. It has numerous health benefits, but I used it for its digestive enhancing properties. You can eat well and take supplements, but if you cannot digest and process them, there is limited, if any benefit. Bioavailability and nutrient absorption is determined by the health of your gut.
Hibiscus Shiso Latte
24 ounces filtered water
6 tbsp loose hibiscus flowers or 6-8 teabags
½ cup green shiso leaves
1 tbsp cardamom
1 tbsp sweet cinnamon chips or 2 cinnamon sticks
Organic milk or any milk alternative (soy, rice, almond, cashew)
Add all ingredients except milk to water and bring to a soft boil
Reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes
Strain using a fine mesh strainer, return to pan and add milk or milk alternative.
Sweeten with raw honey and garnish with powdered cinnamon and rose petals if desired
This tea is not only a health enhancer, but it tastes terrific!
For a cold winter evening twist, add a shot of vodka and make it a Hibiscus Shiso martini!
Happy winter, stay warm, stay healthy!