Yes, it’s summer. It’s hot. Sticky, even. And the beverage of the season? Cold brew coffee, obviously. The potent, low-acid iced coffee has grown exponentially in popularity in the past few years, even though it’s a relatively old school brewing technique (the Japanese have used the cold brew method since the 1600s).
And while it’s probably OK to enjoy a cup in the morning on your walk to work, if you’re slurping down glass after glass of the stuff you might want to chill. Firstly, the stuff ain’t cheap—an order at Starbucks will set you back a cool $5 a pop. More importantly, though, overdoing it on caffeine can seriously mess with your body’s adrenal system, ability to regulate hormone production, and energy levels.
May we suggest a subtle, but powerful, swap? Try herbal infusions. According to nutritionist Kristin Dahl, “Infusions are made up of a variety of herbs steeped for a much longer period of time than tea to create a nutritive, deeply nourishing, and healing brew. Herbal infusions are a potent source of vitamins, minerals, and plant constituents that help to rebuild our cells, while simultaneously boosting immunity and reducing inflammation.”
Usually these herbs have powerful nutrients that boost health—whether as antioxidants, energizers, or adaptogens. “Regular use of herbs is a potent preventative measure to support long-term health. Smaller doses are helpful for treating slight imbalances before they turn into bigger issues, and higher doses can support a therapeutic, whole body healing response,” says Dahl. Herbal infusions don’t just boost your health and energy levels. They’re also served cold, and are actually crafted much like your beloved cold brew, which makes them a perfect substitution.
Making an infusion is simple: Combine your preferred assortment of herbs, add very hot water, and allow to steep for four to eight hours. Strain, and drink to enjoy! If you’ve never used herbs before, don’t stress. Below are some of Dahl’s pantry favorites and their uses:
- Nettle - Rich in minerals and high in iron, nettle is a powerful antidote for anemia. It’s deeply nourishing pre/post cycle, after childbirth, and in the case of a miscarriage. Nettle also supports kidney health, clears urinary tract infections, and is incredibly effective at reducing seasonal allergies.
- Tulsi - The "queen of herbs", also known as Holy Basil. This Indian sourced herb is used in Ayurveda as an adaptogen to balance stress in the central nervous system, regulate blood sugars, and support the immune system. A delicious tea or infusion on its own.
- Raspberry Leaf - Affinity for the reproductive and urinary systems make it a fantastic herb for women. It Nourishes and tones the uterus through menstrual cycles and labor, is high in iron, magnesium, & potassium, and increases fertility. Raspberry leaf is also high in selenium, which supports glowing, healthy skin.
- Lemon Balm - A calming and relaxing herb helpful for alleviating anxiety and depression. Promotes deep sleep, soothes digestive distress (indigestion and colic), nourishes the thyroid, and balances the nervous system.
- Dandelion - Both the leaf and the root are used to cleanse & heal the liver, balance hormones, and support digestion by stimulating stomach acid production. Dandelion also helps to detox the system, regulate blood sugar and strengthen immunity.
- Peppermint - An anti-spasmodic that helps to relieve cramping (menstrual & digestive), gas, and digestive distress. Also helpful for colic and seasonal allergies. High levels of calcium, vitamin B, and potassium make peppermint a potent immunity booster. Menthol, the mint found within peppermint, is a natural decongestant that will help break down phlegm and restrict bacterial and fungal growth.
You can buy herbs in bulk at Mountain Rose Herbs, and check out Dragon Herbs for Chinese herbs and tonics.
Ready to make your own infusion? Try these herbal combos for yourself!
Digestive: Ginger, Peppermint, Dandelion
Calming: Lemon Balm, Calendula, Rose Petals
Balancing: Tulsi, Rose Hips, Goji
Besides herbal infusions, what's your favorite cooling summer drink? Share with us below!