Makes 5 C
Sometimes nothing is better than a cup of chai. It’s warm, spicy, sweet, creamy. The blend of the spices and tea and milk (in this case coconut milk) are like a warm blanket on a cold day. With a cup of chai, you slow down and breathe. Literally. According to Ayurveda, most of the spices used in chai are sattvic, or calming. Sattva also denotes clarity, understanding and light. Not bad for a cup of tea.
Chai is like curry. There are a million and one ways to make it and they will vary quite a bit depending on what region you’re in. This is exciting for 2 reasons. First, for purists, there’s nothing like finding a traditional version…and really, it is quite special. Second, it leaves room for plenty of interpretation and experimentation. These recipes are made for the rest of us to get creative, to tweak and play with until they resonate with us.
I took the 2nd route and while this chai has many (not all) of the traditional spices, I decided to play with the tea. Purists, I believe, would choose a black tea like Assam or Ceylon. I chose Dark Obsession Chocolate Rose. It sounds too good to be tea, and I assure you it is, but it’s still tea. I try not to think too much about the decadent contradiction and just enjoy it. Sometimes the best things just can’t be explained. This special blend comes from Marie Belle’s in NYC. If you can, go there. It’s a treat like no other. (So are gifts from there=) )
As for the nutritional aspect of chai:
Cinnamon is one of the oldest spices in history with uses in the Middle East, China and the Mediterranean. Not surprisingly, it enjoys a long list of medicinal properties as well. Cinnamon is known to improve circulation, counter congestion and treat nausea. It is also a stimulant and an analgesic. Cinnamon also aids in the absorption of nutrients, so feel free to use this spice in your savory dishes, too!
Star Anise is popular in Chinese and Vietnamese cooking. Medicinally, it’s commonly used to aid digestion, as a diuretic and for pain relief. It also does wonders for coughs.
Clove is a particularly strong spice that is also a digestive aid and treats nausea. Cloves have pain-relieving and antiseptic attributes. “Clove is also used to synergistically increase the potency of other herbal blends.”¹
Black Peppercorn was once the most important spice in world trade. It is commonly used to support circulation, stimulate the flow of energy² and improve metabolism.
Cardamom is special. Rebecca Wood describes it as tasting like lemon zest and eucalyptus. She also says that cardamom acts as an antidote to the stress caused by coffee on the adrenal glands, which in my opinion makes chai a great substitution…if that’s what you’re looking for. In addition to being a digestive aid, easing coughs, congestion and breathlessness and benefiting the lungs, kidneys and heart, cardamom also makes you happy!
Black tea isn’t often considered for its health benefits, especially not next to its more famous relative, green tea. Still, it has some health properties to boast such as; inhibiting tumor cells, being high in antioxidants and strengthening the immune system.
I encourage you to get creative with your own recipes. Maybe you like more cloves or perhaps you’ll try a green tea chai? If you’re feeling a bit under the weather, definitely add some fresh ginger. Whatever you choose, I assure you that this cup of chai will get you to slow down and smell the roses.
6 C water
10-12 cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick
4-5 black peppercorns
1 star anise
3 whole cloves
2 T Dark Obsession Chocolate Rose
1. Bring water and all spices to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
2. Covered, let spices steep for 10 minutes. Then, return to a boil and promptly remove from heat.
3. Add tea and let steep for 5-7 minutes
4. Strain and discard tea and spices. Let tea cool to room temperature and then refrigerate. Unless you’re having a cup immediately, then prepare as per instructions below, or to taste!
1. While tea is settling, bring 3/4 C of milk (dairy or non-dairy) to a simmer and add to tea.
2. Add 2 T maple syrup or sweetener of choice. (Optional-you could also add 1t vanilla extract.)
3. Serve in individual cups and ENJOY!
²Rebecca Wood, The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia