A tea called CCF tea or cumin-coriander-fennel tea is trending in new age and Ayurveda circles. Is CCF tea all it’s cracked up to be? Is it THE digestive aid that trumps all? What is it and is it beneficial for all doshic types?
I am not certain who came up with this combination and whether it is mentioned anywhere in the ancient Ayurvedic texts. I doubt it. It’s fair to say that Ayurveda has always promoted using spices to fire up digestive juices, improve elimination and prevent and reverse many diseases.
Digestion, Digestion, Digestion
The reason I say prevent and reverse many diseases is because Ayurveda teaches that all disease starts in the digestive system. If our digestion is strong, we can transform incoming food to usable material. If our digestion is weak, this same incoming food stays undigested and turns into Ama which literally means undigested food. This spice combination is wonderfully mild and I have seen many clients benefiting from a lovely cup of this tea over the years. Digestive challenges like gas, bloating and sluggish digestion become a history of the past.
But let’s start in the beginning:
What is CCF TEA?
CCF tea is a simple combination of cumin, coriander and fennel seeds. You can easily make this at home by blending equal parts of each herb together.
1/2 tsp whole cumin seeds
1/2 tsp whole fennel seeds
1/2 tsp whole coriander seeds
4-5 cups of water
Take 1.5 tsp of the mix, combine with 4-5 cups of water. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 5 minutes. Strain. It can be enjoyed as an after-meal tea to prevent gas, hyperacidity and fire up slow digestion.
I think this combo tastes lovely and I have not come upon anyone personally not liking it. If you prefer sweet flavors, increase the amount of fennel in your CCF blend.
Not the tea drinking type? Maybe when you are at work and don’t want to mess around with simmering liquids… The CCF herbal combination can also be taken as a dried, powdered herb mix before your meal. In this case, you would mix ½ tsp of spice mix with 2-4 oz. of water. Drink this down before your meal. You will get the best consistency if you use a coffee grinder.
The Wonder and Magic of Spices
Spices as a general category increase Agni (digestive fire) which is a good thing. As we know, a strong Agni is what allows us to transform food into usable energy. If Agni is too low it turns food into Ama, which clogs our system. That’s not good. Often Ama is translated as toxins but ultimately it is undigested food that hangs out in our physical body but can’t be used productively by our cells. And even worse, it clogs our cells.
Each of the CCF TEA Spices Have Unique Properties
Fennel is one of the best herbs for digestion, strengthening Agni, stopping cramping and dispelling flatulence. Have you ever been to an Indian restaurant and noticed that they give you a small spoonful of roasted fennel seeds after you paid? Of course, according to Indian fashion, they mix it with sugar, to make it more appealing for you to eat. The active ingreedient is the fennel.
Cumin has an affinity for drawing energy downward. This is a great thing as it helps you dispel gas and aids elimination. It is particularly good if you have sluggish digestion. It helps with absorption of nutrients. It also is a wonderful antidote against acidic foods like tomatoes and chilies.
Coriander has similar properties to cumin. It increases digestion, absorption and relieves bloating. Like the other two herbs it enkindles Agni without aggravating acidity (Pitta). It can be used safely even when there is inflammation in the digestive system.
All three spices are cooling by nature and thus are okay to be enjoyed by all doshic types, Vata, Pitta and Kapha. In other words, the formula is tri-doshic. There is not a lot of spices that won’t aggravate acidity or Pitta too much, but the three-some is one of them.
Truth be told-CCF tea most benefits Pitta (the fiery type) as this mix is more on the cooling side. Vata needs a little bit more heat and boost and Kaphas need an even stronger hit to get their sluggish stomach fired up. While CCF tea will still be beneficial, the two following spice formulas may be more appropriate.
¼ tsp dry ginger
1/3 tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp dill seed
¼ tsp fenugreek seeds
1 cup water
Boil water and add spices. Cover and let sit for a few minutes. Enjoy!
Adding dry ginger and cloves to this blend gives this tea a clear jolt. Kapha needs that. Fenugreek and dill bring some lightness to the heavy Kapha energy.
¼ tsp fresh ginger, grated
¼ tsp ground cardamom
¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ajwan (celery seeds)
1 cup water
This blend is a bit hotter than the CCF blend but not too hot to dry out the delicate Vata energy. Cinnamon provides moisture as it is a demulcent. The fresh ginger is more mild, less hot than dry ginger. Ajwan relieves intestinal spasms which Vata has a tendency toward. It is specifically indicated for hiccups, belching and rebellious Vata energy moving upward instead of downward.
Are There Any Dangers?
Like any other substances, we have to be aware of how we use them. In moderation, they are considered safe, and frankly they are so mild it will be hard to mess anything up. You would have to take a big dose. Still, we should be aware of contraindications:
Coriander overall is considered a safe remedy. Cumin should not be used in excess if there is inflammation in the digestive tract. Fennel in herbal textbooks is also considered to be very safe.
However, we should always keep in mind that if we use anything in excess it can get ugly. In one study published by pub med, fennel, a known phytoestrogen, was found to have caused breast development in a 12-month-old girl. The mother had given the baby 2-3 tsp of fennel tea every day for 6 months. The study did not indicate how much fennel was used to create that tea.
A normal adult dosage of powdered fennel for an adult would be ½ tsp, 3x/day. Obviously, the dosage the mom administered to the child was excessive to what was beneficial to the baby causing abnormal tissue growth. If the same dosage would have been given to a nursing mom she would have probably welcomed the increased milk production in her breasts. Fennel acts as a galactagogue and increases the production of breast milk.
The CCF TEA Conclusion
Although CCF tea may be “only” an anciently inspired formula, it will have a positive impact on digestion and assimilation for all doshas.
If you have a more Vata or Kapha type digestion you may want to switch it up with a bit hotter and more stimulating spices. If you are Pitta stick with the cooling CCF blend.