I recently was sick — with two different sinus infections — and tried out drinking different teas and tisanes.  The root cause was probably air pollution where I live, in Bangkok. I cut way back on tea and switched to more tisanes, since resting to recover doesn’t match up well with ingesting a stimulant.

Masala chai

Masala chai blends worked out the best.  I drank a few batches-worth of those, mixing a mild black tea with different tisanes and spices to keep the caffeine level moderate.  Those seemed to alleviate symptoms, even clearing up the discharge from my sinuses. I honestly didn’t expect that. I had tried drinking lots of tisanes during that first sinus infection, and in the case of other versions it was only nice to take in hot fluids.  Drinking a large glass of water while sick can seem unpleasant but downing 2 or 3 large mugs of tisanes is nice. Drinking some water too is still a good idea, because it’s impossible to keep track of what is or isn’t a diuretic.

Chen pi

One tisane, soursop, was described as helping with immune response; and online content included claims about it killing cancerous cells.  Who knows about all that. It’s also said to contain traces of toxic compounds, something to check into before drinking significant amounts of it.  Citrus stuffed with shu pu’er — chen pi — is said to have beneficial properties, but it just worked in relation to pleasant flavor coming across, even with that sense being muted.

I’m not sure which masala chai spices made any differences related to offsetting symptoms or helping with recovery, or if it was just the luck of the draw – around the time that illness was going to break anyway.  Most of the batches were made with black tea and willow herb (aka fireweed and Ivan Chay), spiced with clove, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg (a non-standard ingredient), fennel seed, and ginger. All were drank with milk and sugar added, and prepared with a dash of salt (in one case a bit too much, throwing off the balance).

As to which “real teas” to drink most when sick, I just go with whatever sounds good.  Lots of the flavor effect drops out but for me there aren’t any that work so much better than the rest.  Sheng and shu pu’er are nice for including complex base flavors, in addition to higher notes that don’t come across well in that condition.

For the first time ever I tried a multiple-stage tasting: First when I was sick, and again later after recovery; to test out how my impression of the tea varied (a Longjing /dragonwell green tea version).  In part that just related to wanting to try a sample, and curiosity if my muted sense of taste could do much with picking up aspects or character. Even trying it again a few days after a relatively complete recovery my sense of taste still doesn’t seem back to normal.  Being sick is terrible for dropping out so much of the experience of drinking tea, especially related to sinus infections.

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