Chai is a great coffee substitute. From the moment I had my first chai at the young age of around 9, I was smitten.
Unlike coffee, chai has many inherently beneficial properties. The black tea in chai is rich in antioxidants and the spices in chai have been used for thousands of years to promote general health and well-being, as well as to treat various ailments.
According to Ayurvedic (Ancient Indian) philosophy and medicine, these spices are considered to be “sattvic,” or calming, vitalizing and mentally clarifying – The perfect antidote to the stresses of modern life!
Here is why:
Cinnamon is thought to increase circulation and open breathing, increase awareness and vitality, and reduce fatigue. It is also reputed to be an aphrodisiac! (Hubba hubba!)
A popular spice in both the Indian and Chinese preparations, cardamom is said to benefit the lungs, kidneys, and heart. It is also a mood elevator.
Native to the spice islands of Indonesia, cloves have been used by the Chinese since 300 BC, and came to Europe in the 4th and 5th Centuries AD. Cloves have pain-relieving and antiseptic attributes. Like pepper and ginger, clove is also used to synergistically increase the potency of other herbal blends.
Widely used to support circulation and metabolism, black pepper can help to alleviate chronic coldness. (We can use more of that here in Paris, in the winter!)
Nutmeg has been used for centuries to ease sciatica and promote the digestion of heavy foods. It was also used by ancient Arab physicians to treat kidney and lymph problems.
Chinese Star Anise
Traditional Asian herbalists credit star anise with a variety of properties. It’s used frequently as a cough remedy and to freshen the breath.
Long valued as a stimulant for the circulatory and the immune systems, ginger has been used to treat such disparate conditions as impotence and motion sickness. I’m mad about ginger. Read my post here.
An important medicinal plant in the royal herb gardens of medieval France and Germany, fennel is still widely used to treat both kidney and ocular problems, as well as laryngitis.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. You want a chai latté? Please do not, for the love of the human race, go drink them at Starbucks. Not only are they expensive, but the milk is genetically modified, and it isn’t real chai. It’s concentrated sugar with favour added. This is not chai. What you need is a saucepan, good organic fresh milk (unlike what is easily found here in France) and a good chai mix. You boil everything up together in the milk and strain it after a few minutes of simmering.
I will soon post my own chai recipe. I hope you love and it gets you through the winter time. I certainly need it!
I am also going to attempt chai shortbread. Om nom nom.
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