About this Turmeric Lactation Tea
As an Ayurvedic Postpartum Chef, this Turmeric Lactation Tea is one of the first things I give to a mother after she births her baby. I will continue to make this tea for her daily for the next 42 days of her Sacred Window. I have served this tea hundreds of times, and the response is always this same….”Oh my God, this is SO delicious!” I make a large batch of it in the morning so she can drink it with her breakfast, and there’s still enough for another mug later in the day. This recipe makes enough for four eight-ounce cups of this decadent elixir.
I learned this recipe from my teachers at the Center for Sacred Window Studies while training to become an Ayurvedic Postpartum Caregiver. I’ve modified it just a bit from the original recipe, which you can find in the cookbook, Touching Heaven, written by the school’s late founder, Isha Oakes. I’m so grateful for my teachers at this school, and I highly recommend the program if you are interested in becoming a postpartum doula.
“Turmeric Lactation Tea” is the modern name coined by westerners for this warm, nourishing postpartum drink that new mothers have consumed in Southeast Asia for many thousands of years. There are as many variations of this tea in India as there are families! Southeast Asia is the birthplace of Ayurveda, India’s 5,000-year-old holistic health system, which considers food (and rest) as medicine for the postpartum mother. Modern-day households in India still uphold these ancient Ayurvedic traditions and diet protocols. Traditionally, the birthing mother lives with her mom or mother-in-law and is cared for by her. In India, a postpartum mom’s mother or mother-in-law will traditionally make her warm teas and drinks, much like this one, every day for the first 42 days postpartum. To learn more about Ayurvedic Postpartum practices, click here.
How does this tea help postpartum mothers recover from birth?
According to Ayurveda, food is medicine. This tea is consumed during the postpartum time not only because it tastes delicious but also because each and every component of this tea supports the mother’s healing process, enhances the quality of her breastmilk, and may increase the quantity of milk she is able to produce.
Recovering from the birth process takes many weeks, requiring the mother to rest and eat appropriate foods. After birth, her body’s digestion is very delicate and vulnerable. According to Ayurveda, healthy digestion is the most fundamental aspect in healing, recovery, and living a healthy life. This tea supports her digestion, allowing the nutrients from her meals to be adequately absorbed and assimilated. The turmeric helps to reduce any swelling or inflammation she might be experiencing from the birth. Many of the ingredients have immunity-boosting properties, which support her body’s ability to heal itself, builds her immunity, and protects her from illness during this vulnerable time. When the mother is properly fed and cared for, her body can self-heal, and she can fully recover from the effects of birth. This tea’s spices will create healthy digestion, preventing her from experiencing gas, bloating, heartburn, or constipation. Simultaneously, the warm milk provides many nutrients her body needs to stay hydrated, rebuild tissues and produce milk. The warmth of the milk helps to reduce the vata, the extra air, and space in her torso cavity, encouraging her organs, muscles, and tendons to migrate back to their pre-pregnancy location.
The health benefits of this tea for both the mother and the baby are numerous! Let me share the ingredients here and explain the medicinal, healing qualities of each.
- Ginger — aids in digestion, is a proven galactagogue, reduces bloating, boosts immunity, improves circulation, helps the body to absorb nutrients, kindles digestive fires.
- Fennel — boosts milk supply, supports digestion.
- Cardamom — supports digestion
- Cinnamon — regulates the blood, improves circulation, digestion support.
- Cloves — digestive aid
- Fenugreek seeds — a proven galactagogue
- Turmeric — reduces inflammation, builds immunity, reduces gas, supports good gut bacteria, stabilizes blood sugars.
- Black pepper — kindles digestive fires, supports digestion.
- Saffron — blood cleanser and nerve tonic
- Whole milk — provides protein, builds Ojas (vital energy), galactagogue.
- Almond Milk (cow milk alternative) — protein, helps repair tissues after birth, galactagogue.
- Warmth — warmth is essential for healing. Warm drinks support her body’s healing process by reducing the extra air and space inside of her after giving birth.
Why is this tea so good for breastfeeding mothers?
This tea is a galactagogue, meaning “a food, drink or drug that promotes or increases the flow of a mother’s milk.” How does this milk support that process? Let me explain.
- Hydration– Producing milk requires that the mother consumes tremendous amounts of fluids. The higher quality fluids she consumes will create high-quality milk for the baby. Warm teas are one of the best ways to keep a new mother hydrated. I always keep a thermos filled with tea by her bedside so she can sip on warm tea 24/7.
- Relaxation– What’s more relaxing than a good cup of tea served to you by your loved one while you are resting in bed? Relaxation is vital for the milk to come in and flow down through the milk ducts and out the nipples (this process is called “let-down”). The warm milk is a natural sedative, helping the mother relax and nap when the baby naps.
- Hormone Regulation–The birth process can cause a mother’s nervous system to up-regulate, and in some situations, birthing mothers’ autonomic nervous system (ANS) experiences shock. This is often just a natural, physical response to childbirth. However, if her ANS remains in an up-regulated, hyper-aroused state for too long, it could prevent her milk from coming in and allowing it to flow smoothly. The mother’s post-birth environment must be very low-stimulation, that she is kept warm, she can rest, and that she consumes proper food and beverages. This tea supports a calm and restful environment, allowing her nervous system to feel safe and begin to down-regulate. When her ANS is down-regulated, the stress hormones from birth (cortisol and adrenaline) subside, allowing beneficial, milk-producing hormones to kick in (oxytocin, endorphins, and prolactin). This tea supports the release of the mother’s “love hormones,” oxytocin, and endorphins, helping her feel safe, relaxed, fall in love with her baby. This is what the body needs to produce milk.
- Anti-inflammatory– Many birthing mothers experience swelling and inflammation from giving birth. Consuming turmeric and other healing spices will help reduce the swelling and inflammation caused by childbirth. When the swelling subsides, the body can focus on producing milk, and with less swelling, there is more space in the breast tissues for the milk to go!
- Protein, Vitamins, Minerals + Fat — Milk provides much-needed protein, calcium, iodine, potassium, phosphorus, vitamins B2, B12, and fat. The mother’s body needs high-density nutrition to produce high-quality milk. Breastfeeding mothers need to consume a high-fat diet (healthy fats). I always encourage my mamas to drink whole milk. If you have access to raw milk, this is the best! Be sure to bring it to a full boil when making your tea.
Love in a cup – On an emotional level, the tea’s aroma while it’s cooking on the stove is healing in itself! It fills the home with soothing and delicious scents, stimulating hunger in the mother. When her caregiver brings her a mug of this Turmeric Lactation Tea while she is feeding the baby, she feels deeply loved and nurtured. When the mom feels loved and nurtured, she passes that love onto the baby. Who knew a cup of tea could do all that?
Steps To Making Turmeric Lactation Tea
Here’s a quick overview of the steps to make this drink. For full ingredients and instructions, scroll down to see the recipe.
1. Peel and chop the ginger. Crush cardamom pods.
2. Fill a medium-sized saucepan with water and add all the spices.
3. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer on very low for 20-30 minutes.
4. Add the milk and saffron, return to boil.
5. Stir in the maple syrup.
6. Strain the tea into a mug and store the remainder in a pitcher or thermos.
Turmeric Lactation Tea Variations
- Add 1 star anise
- Add ⅛ tsp nutmeg powder (or fresh grated)
- Substitute whole milk for almond milk, oat milk, or coconut milk
- Substitute maple syrup with 6-7 dates, cooked with concentrate, and pressed through a strainer
Notes and Tips
- Check your local Indian grocery store to purchase the spices. If you make this tea daily for six weeks, you will need large quantities of these spices, particularly fennel, cardamom pods, and cinnamon. They will be much more affordable at the Indian store than at a conventional grocery store. You can also find them online through Mountain Rose Herbs.
- The longer you boil the concentrate, the stronger the flavor will be. If you boil it so long that the water dries up too much, just add more water and simmer it again.
- If you have thyroid issues and are taking thyroid medication, omit the fenugreek seeds.
- Be sure to crush the cardamom pods to release the flavor. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle or a coffee grinder, then place the pods on a cutting board, put a napkin over them, pound them with the back of a knife.
Questions you may have
What other milks can I use besides cow milk?
- If mom or baby has a dairy intolerance, Almond milk is the next best thing for postpartum mothers. Homemade is ideal; try my recipe here. If you use store-bought Almond milk, be sure to buy unsweetened. I like organic, unsweetened vanilla almond milk the best.
- Oat milk is a good option. Oats help boost milk production and, per my diet protocols, are a staple food for postpartum moms. You can try my recipe here. If you buy store-bought oat milk, be sure to get it without added sugar.
- Another option is to use coconut milk, or half coconut milk, half almond milk. You can try my homemade coconut milk recipe here, or use canned, full-fat coconut milk.
Is this tea caffeinated?
Can I serve this tea iced to the postpartum mother?
No, cold drinks are not suitable for postpartum moms, according to Ayurveda. Everything she consumes should be warm, even in warm climates.
How long will this tea last in the fridge?
2-3 days maximum
What other sweeteners can I use?
I prefer maple syrups or dates; however, you can use agave or brown sugar. Honey is healthy when it’s not heated. Once it’s heated, it becomes toxic and indigestible. If you use honey, be sure not to boil it, adding it only after the tea has cooled slightly.
Can I use jaggery to sweeten the tea?
Yes, however, add it to each individual mug after the milk has cooled slightly, otherwise, jaggery will curdle the milk if you boil them together.
- 1 - 2” piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
- 1 cinnamon stick (3-4” long)
- 2 tsp fennel seeds
- 4 cloves
- 8 black peppercorns
- 20 - 25 cardamom pods, cracked and crushed
- ½ tsp fenugreek seeds
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- Pinch of saffron threads
- 1 quart whole milk (4 cups) —Almond milk, Oat milk or Coconut milk also work
- 3-4 TBS pure maple syrup
- 2 ½ C water (filtered)
- Pour 2.5 cups of filtered water into a medium saucepan.
- Crush the cardamom pods with a mortar and pestle and add to the water.
- Peel and slice (or grate) the ginger. Add to the water.
- Add the remaining spices, except for the saffron, to the water. Bring spices to a boil.
- Turn the heat down to med-low and simmer the spices for 15-30 minutes, until the water is reduced to ½-1 cup in quantity. This is your tea concentrate.
- Add the four cups of milk and pinch of saffron.
- Bring milk to boil, then reduce the heat to low and let simmer for 2-5 minutes longer.
- Add the maple syrup.
- Pour into a mug, sprinkle with a pinch of nutmeg on top.
- Serve to the happy mama and listen to her say, “mmmmmmmm” as she takes a sip.