Freshly brewed chai on the stove was a firm favourite at our last Yoga Nurture weekend, so by request, here’s my favourite way to make chai…
Freshly ground spices really make a big difference. I used to use a mortar and pestle, which is a nice meditative way of doing it if you have time, but these days I use a spice grinder. I grind up about a teaspoon each of cloves, cardamom seeds, fennel seeds, black peppercorns, and a cinnamon stick. One teaspoon of this ground mix goes in a saucepan filled with a mug of water. I seal the remaining ground pices and store them, and they keep their freshness well for a week or two.
Also into the saucepan goes a teaspoon of mild black tea leaves like oolong, or sometimes I’ll use Rooibos tea leaves, and a slice or two (or four in winter!) of fresh ginger.
I bring this very slowly to a simmer to give the spices and tea time to infuse. Once it’s simmering, I add a mug and a half of oat milk, or good un-homogenised cow milk. You can even use almond milk…any type you like. I then intend to let it simmer again for about five to ten minutes.
But at this point it’s quite easy to get distracted by some gardening or a great book, or taking photos of tiny flowers, and before I know it the spicy warm smell of chai that has been accidentally brewed to a dangerously thick, syrupy soup wafts to my attention. If this happens, the tradition at my place is to jump up, yelling “Chai Check! Chai Check!” and race into the kitchen to add more water if necessary. Friends are now so used to this that even those who don’t like chai will run to the stove and give it a stir. Don’t worry though, it will taste extra spicy for brewing so long, and if you use a good mild black tea, it never becomes bitter.
Just before serving I’ll stir in two teaspoons of honey to be warmed through the mix, because I prefer honey to the sugar that is added at the beginning in more traditional versions.
A good cup of chai is best enjoyed with a beloved friend, sitting for a quiet chat overlooking the vegie patch 🙂 One of my favourite people to drink chai with is my good friend Abby Takarabe of YoHO Health. You can check out her chai recipe here: http://yohohealth.com.au/how-to-make-a-real-chai
I drink chai because it’s delicious and it tastes like a hug, but I also appreciate its health benefits…
Mild black teas such as oolong are ideal for chai because they won’t become bitter when brewed for a long time. These teas have very little tannin and caffeine compared to stronger black teas, so they won’t interfere with iron or protein absorption, and they won’t keep you awake if you have an evening chai. Oolong tea is rich in antioxidants called polyphenols, which are believed to help the body’s cells resist damage by free radicals. If you wanted to, you could also make chai with green tea leaves or caffeine free Rooibos. Some people leave the tea out altogether and just enjoy the spices.
Cardamom, according to Ayurvedic tradition, is a warming spice that improves digestion and blood circulation and detoxifies.
Cloves contain Eugenol, which functions as an anti-inflammatory, and a variety of flavanoids.
Black Pepper has both anti-oxidant and anti-bacterial properties.
Cinnamon is also anti-bacterial and can lower LDL cholesterol. It may also may have a regulatory effect on blood sugar.
Ginger is a great anti-inflammatory and is warming when the weather’s cold. It’s good for the digestive tract and is very helpful for settling the stomach.
Fennel seeds soothe the stomach and are rich in minerals, including magnesium.
Cardamom, cloves and cinnamon are also sources of manganese, which helps to strengthen cell walls and aids joint lubrication and nerve function.
These are only a few of the benefits of drinking home-made chai and there are as many ways to make it as there are chai lovers. Some add a bay leaf or some coriander seeds. I would love to know your favourite chai recipe! Share it with us on the Facebook Page. And by the way, for Huon Valley residents, if you don’t feel like making your own, the best chai in the Huon Valley (in fact, the only real chai) is served at the Lotus Eaters In Cygnet: http://www.thelotuseaterscafe.com.au
For more complimentary resources, Yoga tips and recipes please see www.alisoneastland.com