The Metal Element

Chinese Character for the Metal Element

Welcome to autumn and element of metal. As the air begins to chill and nature begins to shed its excesses of summer, we find that we too need to shed and hone in on what is most important to us. Fall is a great time for this. Being ruled by the element of metal, fall is a time of letting go. Just as the trees allow their leaves to return to the soil to turn into something new, now is the time to unplug our energies from the old--that which does not serve us--and allow those energies, in time, to be used for a new direction.

In the fall we begin to cook our foods more. Fresh salads give way to hearty soups. With the pungent flavor ruling the season, it is time to add these flavors such as onions, garlic and the (not quite) newly-discovered flavor of umami. Umami is the pungent flavor discovered in the 20th century and found readily in shitake mushrooms. Other pungent foods include: cauliflower, pears, cinnamon, mint, tarragon, marjoram, rosemary, thyme, scallions, cloves, fennel seed and bulb, cilantro, parsley, anise, dill, mustard greens, wasabi, horseradish, mustard, basil, and nutmeg.

Chai is a great way to get some of this pungency into you - I’ve included a recipe below:

Chai Tea Recipe

Cup of chai tea in an earthenware mug

Fill a medium pot with 2 quarts of filtered water. 


  • 8 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of cardamom seeds
  • 1/2 tablespoon of whole cloves
  • 1/2 tablespoon of black peppercorns
  • 5 slices of fresh ginger root. 

Boil 30 minutes. Reduce heat and simmer on a low flame for 2 hours. Add water as necessary. Remove from heat and let the concoction sit all night. In the morning, strain and store in fridge.

After heating the tea the next day, add 1 -2 teabags of black tea. Steep one minute. The black tea is an important healing catalyst in the tea. Add milk and honey to taste. 

This recipe is from the Sikh community of northern New Mexico

Article written by Stephanie Gianarelli of Acupuncture Northwest & Associates, an acupuncture clinic specializing in mental health, pain, fertility and pregnancy with clinics in Seattle, Bellevue and Tacoma, Washington.