Chai (also known as masala chai) is a delicious aromatic, healing drink made from spices originally from the Indian subcontinent. It is often (but not always) combined with black tea and cow’s milk, then sweetened with sugar or honey. There are lots of variations of chai that are drunk all over the world. The addition of spices into a daily cup of tea help fortify the immune system to keep bugs at bay. The spices that are typically used are cardamom pods (Eletteria cardaomum), cloves (Eugenia carophyllus), black pepper corns (Piper nigrum), ginger (Zingiber officinalis) and cinnamon (Cinnamonum cassia). These spices are boiled (decocted) in water or milk for 30-60 minutes, allowing the aromatic flavours to infuse and concentrate into the water. Once the spices are infused and concentrated, lose black tea leaves, milk and a sweetner are added to taste. In some places the spices are boiled in milk, then tea leaves and sugar are added to one big pot and left simmering for a whole family/ community’s consumption.
According to the ancient tradition of Ayurvedic Medicine chai is balancing to all three doshas (elemental constitutions), and have sattvic quanlities: being calming, vitalizing and mentally stimulating. This could be a great antidote to the stresses of modern life.
The herbs help promote healthy and optimal digestion, stimulate the immune system, calm the nervous system and are generally drying and binding: a great antidote to cold, damp weather and to try up snivels and snot caused by having a cold.
10 cracked green cardamom pods
10-15 black pepper corns
Thumb sized piece of ginger, sliced
2 small cinnamon sticks
Add spices to ½-1L of water and simmer on low heat for 30-60 minutes, covered with a lid. The spices can also be simmered in milk (according to Auyrveda, boiling milk makes it easier to digest). Either way, add lose black tea leaves, combine milk and spiced water and sweeten as desired.
Frawley, D.Dr, Lad, V. Dr, 2001, The Yoga of Herbs, Lotus Press
Pole, S., 2006, Ayurvedic Medicine The Principles of Traditional Practice, Elsevier