DIY Citrus Ginger Tea for Immune and Digestive Support


The past few months have shed a lot of light on the importance of nutrition and what you put into your body. Personally, I have been more conscientious about limiting certain foods I know cause inflammation, which in turn suppresses the immune system. This includes sugar, processed white foods, and dairy.  I know they inflame me. I've had DNA tests that show genetics don't tolerate dairy and I am at an increased risk for chronic, low-grade inflammation. Plus, I feel that inflammation and it doesn't feel good! 

Another health benefit of modifying my diet, and something I think we all need to pay attention to, is long-term care for the gut microbiome and preventing gut dysbiosis (an unhealthy imbalance in gut bacteria). Gut dysbiosis and overgrowth of bacteria create an environment where it’s much easier for viruses to take hold and proliferate.

This Tea and Gut Health

This tea is great for anyone who wants to support their gut health. It contains nutrients called quercetin and hesperidin (a citrus flavonoid) that promote the body’s innate resistance to pathogens. It also contains antioxidants, which are known to significantly promote certain immune responses.

If you haven't already heard, about 80% of our immune system lies in our gut, and it is directly influenced by diet! The more we do to take care of and balance our microbiome , and to lower the populations of these pathogenic and opportunistic species, the better off we’ll be in terms of any illness from the common cold to far more dangerous pathogens. This is something everyone should know and be working on and bring into their daily lives.

Opportunistic pathogens in our gut in small amounts are just waiting for that time we overindulge in inflammatory foods in order to get stronger and grow.

Inflammatory foods

  1. Dairy
  2. Sugar
  3. Wheat
  4. Fried/greasy foods
  5. Trans Fats
  6. Refined, Processed Carbohydrates
  7. Processed Meat

Good-For-The-Gut Foods

  1. Tea, such as this Citrus Ginger Tea, Chamomile Tea & Green Tea
  2. Fermented Foods 
  3. Good quality Protein
  4. Pumpkin and other cooked orange and yellow Root Vegetables
  5. Ginger
  6. Onion + Garlic
  7. Cinnamon, Cardamom, Horseradish
  8. Bitter Vegetables (artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, watercress, etc)
  9. Exercise! It has been shown to modulate the gut microbiome. 

Tea-Making Process:

Collect the citrus peels from the oranges, tangerines, grapefruit and lemons you eat over the course of a few days. Keep them in a bowl in the refrigerator or freezer so you can keep adding the peels while you snack and nothing ever goes to waste.

p.s. wash the peels before adding them to the pot of water.

Key Points:

  • No need to measure exactly.
  • There’s no way to do this wrong.
  • The goal is to get a bunch of plants in water and simmer. Don’t think the tea won’t be as good if you don’t have every single ingredient. The goal is to use what you have in your kitchen. If you have GI issues, consider buying rosemary and fennel next time you go to the store since those two ingredients are great for gut health.

#1: Set the flame to high heat.

#2: Add a handful of the citrus peels to a big pot of water. I usually start with 8-10 cups of water but that will reduce as it simmers, so don’t be afraid to start with a lot of water.

#3: Peel ginger, chop it into chunks, and throw a handful of chunks in. The amount you add depends on how “spicy” you want your tea.

#4: If you can find rosemary at the grocery store, toss in 1-2 rosemary sprigs.

#5: Toss in a handful of fennel seeds (found in the spice/seasoning aisle).

#6: And….from here you can get creative! Other spices that support the gut and oral microbiome include clove, cardamom, and cinnamon. If you’re feeling REAL WILD, add half onion! Onions, especially the skins, are extremely high in quercetin and very good at promoting the body’s innate resistance to pathogens. Throw ½ onion right into the tea.

#7: Bring everything to a boil in the pot, and then lower the heat to “low” and cover so it can simmer and become more concentrated. Let it simmer at least 20 minutes; sometimes I leave it on the stove for hours so it can keep getting stronger!

#8: Once the tea is finished "cooking" and "marinating,", strain all the solids from the liquid. I store my tea in a glass container/mason jar in the refrigerator. 


Kelly Harrington, MS, RDN

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for Healthy Goods

This recipe was inspired by my fav herbalist, Organic Olivia.

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