I had my first taste of real, homemade chai while working at an Indian restaurant years and years ago. It was such a revelation after only having the boxed, overly sweetened, steamed milk concoction served by the big coffeehouse chains. This chai was totally different- just the right amount of spice, a quality that warmed the whole body, milky without being heavy. After that experience, I started making my own chai at home. It’s the perfect wintertime tea.
It wasn’t until years later when I started learning herbal medicine that I realized what a powerful medicine chai is. Most of the spices used to make chai have medicinal properties. Fennel seed is used to promote digestion. Cloves, cinnamon, black pepper, and cardamom are warming herbs that are perfect for people who tend to feel chilly. Fresh ginger is used for warming the lungs and digestion, breaking up phlegmy conditions, and treating colds and flus.
- 1 tsp fennel seed
- ½ tsp cloves
- ½ tsp black peppercorns
- ½ tsp cardamom seeds
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 10 slices fresh ginger
- 4 cups water
- 1 tbsp (or 1 teabag) of black tea leaves or tulsi tea
- Milk or milk alternative (optional), to taste
- Honey (optional), to taste
- Simmer for 10 minutes, then turn off the heat and add the tea leaves or teabag
- Strain out the spices and tea leaves
- Add milk or milk alternative and honey to taste
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