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By Nadia Marshall

Here's the deal.  I don't smoke. I barely drink alcohol, apart from the odd light beer when I want to celebrate something. I don't drink coffee. And, as you know, I've cut down on my cookie and chocolate habit.  So, what have I got left on my list of vices?  Tea.  Yep.... black tea with a little milk.  I freaking love it.  It's like a great friend who comes to visit throughout the day just to say, 'everything is going to be okay'.  It chills me out and peps me up all at the same time.  Magic.  

So what's the problem?  The problem is, I'm very sensitive to caffeine and my constitution is prone to overheating so I know.... I KNOW that too much tea is not good for me.  It is overstimulating, strains my liver, makes my agni tikshna (or too high/sharp) and puts my system out of balance... especially in summer. 

But I don't want to give it up.  I'm an addict when it comes to tea.  Even the thought of giving it up fills me with a dread I can't put into words.  I don't want to give it up.  So... I'm not going to.  The beauty of Ayurveda is... I don't have to.  I can simply make a few changes to offset the effect it has on my system.

First of all, I'm cutting back.  I'm having two cups of tea a day instead of three - in the morning and the afternoon.  When I do, I'm adding a pinch of cardamom which is cooling and antidotes the toxic effects of the caffeine.  I also use full cream, unhomogenised milk which is cooling and antidotes the astringent effect of the tea (and makes it taste way better).

If I have the time, and I feel like it, my afternoon cuppa will be a home-made chai instead.  Here is a good cooling chai recipe for summer that will be lower in caffeine than you're average cup of tea...

Chai Recipe


- 1/2 cup milk

- 1/2 cup water

- 1 tea bag

- 2 pinches cardamom powder

- 1 tsp freshly grated ginger

- 2 strands saffron

- 2 tsp ground jaggery


Bring the milk and water to the boil in a small saucepan. Turn off the heat and add the ginger, cardamom, jaggery and tea. Stir for about a minute until the jaggery has dissolved and the tea has infused.  Now strain into a cup and add the saffron on top.

And, instead of my mid-morning cuppa, I'm having an alternative instead - either a Dandy or a Caro with milk. What's a Dandy?  It is the roasted root of the dandelion plant and tastes like a cross between tea and coffee.  It's yummy, caffeine free and actually supports liver function instead of taxing it.  What's a Caro? Caro is a cereal beverage made from barley, malted barley, rye and chicory root that tastes a little like a mild latte and is also caffeine free.  Interestingly, chicory root is well-known for its ability to eliminate intestinal worms - always helpful when you live in a sub-tropical climate! They may sound a bit hippie, but you can get both of these products from the supermarket.

So there we have it.  That is my strategy for minimising the effects of my tea addiction.  You may want to try it out too!  Let me know how you go. 




Agni - the digestive fire.

Ama or Aama - undigested food waste, toxins.

Ojas- the foundation of our immune system and longevity.

Dhatus - the tissues of the body.

Srotas - the channels of the body.

Vata - the air/ether

intelligence in the body.

Pitta- the fire/water

intelligence in the body.

Kapha- the water/earth intelligence in the body.

Sattva- the quality of purity, intelligence, peace and love.

Rajas- the quality of

turbulence and activity.

Tamas- the quality of

dullness, darkness and inertia.

Rasa - the taste of a food (Sweet, Sour, Salty, Pungent, Bitter, Astringent)

Virya - second level of digestion (either Heating or Cooling)

Vipaka - third level of digestion, the deep taste of a food (can be Sweet, Sour or Pungent)

Prabhav - the 'special effect' of a food or herb/spice

Rasa - also the name for plasma tissue

Rakta - blood tissue

Mamsa - muscle tissue

Meda - fat tissue

Asthi - bone tissue

Majja - nerve & bone marrow tissue

Shukra - sexual reproductive tissue

Cutting Back on Caffeine

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