Sip On Kadha For Colds: Ayurvedic Herbal Tea

Indian kitchens and kitchen gardens come stocked with plenty of herbs and spices that we use to flavor our food and dishes with alacrity – and sometimes with quite a heavy hand as many a tourist who has tasted Indian food has paid testament to with watery eyes, a runny nose and a tongue that seems to be on fire!

That said, many of these herbs and spices find mention in ancient Ayurvedic texts, for as Hippocrates so rightly said, food is medicine. And we’ll reach for those herbal teas when in need – to alleviate coughs and colds, calm down the monthly PMS rage and even help that unstable stomach.

Sometimes though, you do get bogged down with a dry cough that simply refuses to quit and leaves you with a sore throat, an irritated audience and a voice that rivals Kermit’s – and not in a good way. Most Indians, at this stage, rely on kadha, or karha, a tea or concoction where herbs and spices are boiled, usually in water, to extract all their benefits – which is then cooled a bit, but served warm and can also be stored in the fridge and then reheated and sipped on 3-4 times in a day.

So here’s a kadha that really works on dry, persistent cough and a sore throat that simply refuses to get better, medicines be darned.


Ayurvedic Cough Concoction or Kadha

  • 4-5 bay leaves (tej patta) (in a pinch, you can also use the leaves of the cinnamon tree or even allspice)
  • 2-inch piece ginger (adrak), peeled and crushed for maximum efficacy
  • A 4-inch stick of licorice (mulethi)
  • 10-12 peppercorns, crushed (kali mirch)
  • 4 green cardamoms (elaichi), crushed
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds (saunf)
  • 5-6 crushed holy basil leaves (tulsi)
  • Honey (shahad) to taste

Boil 3 cups water and add in everything but the honey. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, till the water level has halved and is dark green/brown in color. Strain the water and discard the herbs and spices. Measure about 50-100ml of this concoction, and sip it warm. In case you find this too hot (read: spicy) for your taste, add in 1 teaspoon honey to sweeten before you sip. You can have this twice a day in summers or four times a day in winters – all the herbs and spices used in this herbal “tea” are pitta inducing. In summers they may unnecessarily cause too much heat in the digestive system and have an adverse effect. In winters, this becomes an advantage.


We hope this helps soothe your cough, alleviate that sore throat and also help in curing away that flu faster as its spiciness will help in dissolving and expelling any and all congestion. Happy healing to you, and do let us have your thoughts about this kadha recipe in the comments section below.