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March 5, 2015

The Amazing Health Benefits of Chai! {Plus: Homemade Recipe}

Masala_Chai

My partner and I have been drinking homemade Chai for 20 years. Not only does it serve up many health benefits, it makes the house smell terrific!

Introduced to us by a yogi friend, homemade Chai is satisfying to make (and I love the ritual). Add a Deva Primal CD or some other mantra type of music and you’ve created a moving meditation while preparing the brew.

I used to say Chai tea, but since the word Chai means tea, I was in effect, saying tea tea.

Chai recipes differ according to family and region. Some are prized secrets. I didn’t understand this until I began casting spells in my magical practice. Recipes are like magic, each ingredient, plus the emotional and physical energy of the cook, come together in a synergistic effect to create something very unique to each recipe.

Have you noticed that when two cooks create the same soup, it rarely tastes identical? This is because the essence of each cook infuses the food and, as such, cannot be duplicated by another’s hands.

Something else that I enjoy in addition to drinking Chai is browsing through the spice racks at the traditional East Indian grocers. The aroma…the romance of choosing ingredients by hand! It is part of the experience, and well worth the effort. Later, at home, re-filling my jars in the pantry is just a furthering of my love affair with this fragrant tea.

The standard ingredients for Chai are as follows: black tea, ginger, green cardamom pods, cinnamon, clove and black pepper. Additional optional ingredients are fennel and anise. It is traditionally taken with honey, (unpasteurized or raw is good) and cow’s milk. Synergistic effect of the ingredients aside, one can make adjustments according to lifestyle habits.

Decaf tea or green tea can be used if regular black tea is too much of a stimulant.

Almond milk, or soy (organic please and non-GMO only) can substitute for cow’s or goat’s milk.

Some benefits of Chai:

A gentle stimulant for the bowels.

An energy boost…can be used to ease one from cigarettes, coffee or drugs.

Protects against colds, influenza and lower respiratory infections.

Balances creative and sexual energy.

Can be used as part of a one to three day fast.

The ingredients individually also have specific health benefits to add to the above list.

Black Tea: anti-viral, anti-cancer, anti-oxidant, helpful in prevention of cardio-vascular disease.

Ginger: Oh, the magical ginger root…digestive aid, fights inflammation, circulation support, immune booster, anti-oxidant, may help fight cancer cell development.

Green Cardamom: A Tibetan medicinal, cardamom aids in digestion, supports immunity, circulation, respiratory function and a general detoxifier.

Cinnamon: Anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, digestive, balances blood sugar.

Clove: digestive, pain relief, anti-bacterial.

Black Pepper: May prevent fat storage, anti-bacterial, anti-oxidant, supports digestion.

 

I always laugh and say that since these spices are regularly used as food preservatives in hot climates, I will also be well preserved and live to be a hundred. I’ll let you know.

To make your own Chai:

In a medium sized pot, (I prefer glass or ceramic coated to metal) bring to a boil:

10 cups of water
6 whole black peppercorns
2 cinnamon sticks
32 green cardamom pods (I crush mine first with mortar and pestle)
24 whole cloves
8 thick slices of fresh ginger root
1 anise seed pod

Simmer on low for half an hour. Remove from heat and add one bag of black or green tea
Steep for a half hour before drinking. Enjoy with milk of choice and honey

Personally, I like mine strong so I let it sit in the pot overnight to steep, then strain, and store in a jar in the fridge. But it disappears so fast around here that sometimes there is no need to strain. Up to you. Also good as a chilled drink.

Gift Idea: A jar of Chai spices for someone you love.

Enjoy to your good health.

 

Relephant:

Chai Hot Toddy. {Vegan Recipe}

 

Author: Monika Carless

Editor: Travis May

Photo: Wikimedia

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Monika Carless  |  Contribution: 48,425