The beginning of autumn is rough on the body. The cold, the rain, the wind … all of  these factors challenge our immune systems as we adapt to the change in seasons. School starts and all those little people gather indoors to share ideas and germs.

Time to heat up the teapot. Even stalwart coffee drinkers can take a break between hot cups of Joe to ward off an impending flu. Just a cup of tea is not going to be enough to defend against everything this season has to offer, but there are cheap and easy ways to add more bang to your cup.

1. Drink herbal tea. Straight from the bulk bin or selected from a fancy tea tin. Choose an herb that will help your immune system sit up and take notice.

2. Try new herbal blends. The market is flooded this year with the best tea companies have to offer. Don’t be afraid to experiment on your own. Schisandra berry or Astragulus root are not big flavor favorites on their own, but they can subtly add their immune care to tea mixtures with snappier tastes.

3. Add a piece of dried fruit to your tea cup. Dried pears, apples, mangoes or papayas naturally sweeten a cup of tea and give that extra shot of vitamin C our bodies crave. The dried fruit is re-hydrated after you drink your tea and serves as a tasty snack to chew on afterwards. I also suggest throwing in a piece of crystallized ginger for those of us with spicier tastes.

4. Use a cinnamon stick as a stirring spoon. One stick of cinnamon can be reused several times if you can keep opportunistic family members from snitching your trick. Cinnamon adds flavor and stabilizes blood sugar.

5. Got a sweet tooth? Switch to honey. Sugar is a treat for bacteria and fungus. Honey helps defend against these little nasties. Honey is sweeter than sugar, too, so you don’t need as much. For the hardcore sugar warriors, substitute sugar and honey for licorice. Start with using a dried piece of licorice root as a stirring stick just as you would use cinnamon. (see option 4 above)

6. Let you tea steep longer than 2 or 3 minutes. Steeping time draws out more flavor and medicine from the herbs. Covering the tea cup with a little dish or a napkin prevents the flavors from escaping with the steam.

7. Revive your water bottle. Throw a healing tea bag into your water bottle to give your rehydration breaks a bigger boost. Try dried orange or lemon peel to add extra vitamin C.

Don’t let the chilling winds of autumn get you down. Raise your cup in salute to new season. Cheers!