There are so many lovely beverages to enjoy rather than drinking sodas full of phosphoric acid and high fructose corn syrup, linked in studies to lower bone density and diabetes, respecitively. Here is a very refreshing drink you can enjoy in summer that will cool you off even without ice, which damages digestive fire.
Rose and Lime in Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda
Rose is considered cooling and harmonizing in Ayurveda and Chinese Medicine. The heat of summer can sometimes create irritability, so this is a valuable quality.In Chinese Medicine we use dried rose petals , Mu Gua, for cooling and relaxing the “Liver Qi” which is associated with the frustration and irritability, of Liver Qi stagnation.
This describes the sense of rose in Ayurveda, too, where its use is in teas that pacify Pitta, which is also associated with aggression and tension. Rose is also used in Ayurveda as essential oil in massage oils; as rose petals cooked in milk; as a jam marinated in sugar; and finally, as rose water, both topically, as described in the previous post, and in beverages and sweets.
Whereas Lemon is sour, Lime is slightly bitter and astringent as well, so when combined with water, which is by nature cooling, and rose and sweetener, it has all the qualities that pacify Pitta: cool, sweet, bitter, astringent. It is true, lime is sour, which can aggravate pitta in excess, but in small amounts and combined with these other ingredients, the result is a beverage that pacifies pitta.
Of course, if you are very Pitta dominant and or in a current state of unbalance, make this drink more sweet than sour, with more rose, and do not use honey, which is heating. And don’t have it every day, but on occasion, if at all.
Lime vs. Lemon
Besides Lemon being just sour and a tad sweet, and Lime being also bitter and astringent, I find lime even more refreshing than lemon, because it is so aromatic; it has a really fresh taste. This aromatic quality stimulates the digestive energy, which is important in summer, when the digestive qi, or Agni, is naturally weaker, and further weakened, potentially, by too much cool fruit or beverages.
And it is interesting the very hot countries like southeast Asia, India, central America, you find Lime more than Lemon.
A Dash of Salt
In India, where it is so hot and you sweat so much, lemonade is sometimes made with a dash of salt. There are actually really great spice mixes for lemonade, too, with gooseberry, cumin, hing, but let’s talk about that another time.
A dash of salt in lemonade does something alchemical; it feels to me as if softens the water, if that makes sense. Perhaps it balances the sour of the lime. And the more tastes that are in a food, the more balancing it is, overall. But if you have high blood pressure, please leave it out.
Rose Scented Limeade
12 oz filtered water
1/2 small lime, more or less
Sweetener of your choice: honey is excellent for Vata and Kapha, Agave syrup fine for all.
Start with 1 tsp.
To use less sugar combine it with stevia. Using a little sugar helps cover up the bitter aftertaste of stevia.
Pinch of sea salt
1 tsp Rose water, more or less
In India they roll the lime around on the table before cutting in half, with some pressure.This makes it easier to get all the juice out. Squeeze the lime into a glass, and add the sweetener.
If using honey, or raw sugar, you will need a little warm water to dissolve it. Honey gives a lovely taste to this, which will vary of course with the kind of honey you use.
Add the rose water and a pinch of sea salt.
That’s it! Stir it up and have a lovely, naturally cooling, summer drink.
Pitta Dosha and Summer
Summer is the season in which Pitta naturally increases. If the hot sun makes you sick, or gives you headaches, you almost certainly have a Pitta imbalance. Pitta is also highest at noon, and aggravated by intense heat, excessive sunlight, hot food with chile, sour food like tamarind or vinegar, and excessive salt, like potato chips.
So if your Pitta is very dominant, or imbalanced, you will need to take more than the ordinary care in avoiding the sun and the hottest part of the day, and avoiding the above kinds of foods, just as a start.
Pitta is, on the other hand, pacified by the sweet, bitter, and astringent tastes, such as you find in fruits and leafy green vegetables and herbs, for example, and by foods and experiences that are cooling and a little dry such as evening walks in the shade, swimming late or early in the day, raw vegetables, and the above limeade which is cooling, sweet, astringent, and bitter.
The astringent taste, which is higher in raw vegetables and lower once they are cooked, is considered drying; taste a lime–it leaves the back of your mouth dry, that is the astringent taste. Whereas when you taste a lemon, the sides and front of your tongue salivates, that is the sour taste.
I like to make limeade with sparkling water sometimes. Then I don’t use the rose, but like to use lemon and orange, kind of in imitation of orangina or something like it. There is a mineral water from Georgia (the country) called Borjemi, that is very strong, even sulfurous. I like to use it sometimes.
Where to get Rose Water
The best and cheapest is Cortas brand, Indo-European and Sadaf are also good. Get them online, or at any Middle Eastern, Arab, Iranian, and sometimes Indo-Pak market.
A 12 oz bottle should be from two to four dollars only.
copyright eyton shalom, july 2011, all rights reserved, use with permission
Ayurveda, Acupuncture, and Chinese Medicine in San Diego