Chai is not just a tasty spicy hot drink you know. This traditional Indian tea blend actually has hundreds of amazing healing benefits. Too many to list in this blog so I'll just give you a little sampler.
The reason I'm sharing this with you in my blog, is because I've just spent over a three months not having my daily dose. I've been drinking chai almost daily for about five years, and I only brought a little bit with me to the outback. There are other variables of course, but I started to notice a huge difference in my health, as well as my ability to fight sugar cravings. I ate crap, gained weight, felt bloated and uncomfortable and was an emotional mess! I finally got back on top of things and ordered some spices in so I could make my healing cuppa. Life is good again =)
If you search the internet for a chai recipe, you will find hundreds of variations. After years of tinkering, I have found a really good solid base recipe, that can be varied with additional spices if you want to change it up occasionally.
You will need six core ingredients:
whole cinnamon sticks
whole black peppercorns
whole cardamom pods
organic black tea
Optional additions: star anise (a little goes a long way!), fennel, bay leaves, nutmeg, vanilla bean, honey
Time to prepare: five minutes
You'll also need a powerful blender or mortar and pestle to grind up your spices. Take a good sized palmful of ginger, and about 20 grams of each spice and place them in your blender.
Grind away until you get your mixture into very small bits, a few chunks is ok. You might need to pick up the blender bowl and shake it a few times to get the big pieces ground up.
Now if you want this fresh chai to last in the fridge, you'll need to add some honey. The spices themselves have antimicrobial properties but the honey is really going to help preserve your chai. You don't need much, maybe one big tablespoon, just enough to blend it all together. And this will keep your chai fresh for up to three months, even longer if you store it in the freezer.
I used to drink my chai with loads of soymilk which is NOT a health food. I'm still addicted, but I'm working on it. Lately I've applied the Bulletproof Coffee recipe to my chai, and it's sooooo good! Again, you'll need a blender, I recommend a magic bullet or nutri infusion small blender for this purpose, and for grinding your spices. Much easier to use and clean than a big blender. Add two tablespoons of unsalted grass fed organic butter, and a tablespoon of bulletproof brain octane to your blender. Brew a big tablespoon of your chai with one organic black tea bag in boiling water for five minutes and then strain the hot tea into the blender. This blends up to a nice creamy texture, and can even be used as a meal replacement to aid in intermittent fasting, especially when you add a bulletproof collagen protein powder =)
But, if you want to do it the old fashioned way, simply place your chai mix and tea bag in a small pot with about an inch or two of water and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer. Once it's been brewing for about five to ten minutes, add your milk of choice (coconut is a nice dairy/soy alternative) and simmer for a further ten to fifteen minutes. Strain your chai and drink as is or add a bit of honey for sweetness. This is especially well received after eating because of the digestive benefits. If your milk curdles when you add it to the tea, let it cool down a bit before adding.
Money saving tip: leave your spices whole, and make one brew batch at a time, but once you've strained your first brew, rinse the spices and keep in a jar in the fridge (make sure you use a teabag instead of loose tea so you can use fresh tea each time, otherwise it gets bitter, and fresh ginger too). This mix can be re-used up to five times! They will lose a bit of flavour after each brew but still tastes amazing =)
Healing Benefits of Chai
The ginger provides, along with a zesty zing, anti-inflammatory and immune system boosting benefits, as well as being a digestive aid. Great for sore throats and sore tummies. Interesting gut fact: ginger helps promote regular digestion and metabolism of your food, which means you prevent nutrient deficiencies and get more bang for your buck out of everything you eat. And this is just the tip of the iceberg on the therapeutics of ginger, get this stuff into you in droves.
Cinnamon, also an anti-inflammatory, is a powerful antioxidant rich in polyphenols, which reduces oxidative stress on your tissues, possibly even preventing cancer. Not to mention, this sweet flavoured spice has now been proven to help reduce insulin resistance in diabetics! Insulin is a key hormone that regulates metabolism and energy use, and in this way, it can help you fight sugar cravings. Now do be careful which type of cinnamon you buy, because most supermarkets sell the cousin of cinnamon, cassia.The benefits are not quite as good, and overconsumption of cassia might even have ill-effects. Look for Ceylon Cinnamon or Cinamomum verum.
One daily cup of clove rich chai is also going to help protect your liver with its high amounts of antioxidants. And similar to cinnamon, cloves imitate insulin in the body, helping to control blood sugar levels. This is not just great news for diabetics, but for everyone. Regular spikes in blood sugar cause all kinds of inflammation in the body, and inflammation is at the root of most disease.
Black pepper is phenomenal for digestion. Not only does it prevent gas forming in the body, it also helps to expel gas in a downward direction (the way its meant to go) rather than pushing upwards into the chest cavity and straining the lungs and heart. The outer layer of the peppercorn assists in the breakdown of fat cells, helping you squeeze into those skinny jeans again. Pepper is also a tonic for coughs and colds and provides relief from sinusitis and nasal congestion.
Interesting fact: You know how salt increases the flavour of the foods that you add it to? Well pepper increases the bioavailability of the foods you add it to, making the nutrients in your food more easily absorbed. No wonder salt and pepper and are such a stellar team!
Cardamom is great for cardiovascular health and cancer prevention, is a natural anti-depressant and helps prevent gastrointestinal disease. This sweetly aromatic spice has been used in ayurvedic (traditional Indian) medicine for joint and muscle pain, and also as an alternative to antibiotics. Spices can inhibit infectious microbes without harming beneficial gut bacteria.
So, in short, drinking a daily chai can help you lose weight, fight sugar cravings, improve digestion, prevent cancer and heart disease, regulate blood sugar, lift your mood, prevent colds and infectious diseases, protect your organs, boost immune system and metabolism, and increase the absorption of the nutrients you consume. If that's not enough to convince you, it's also frickin delicious ;-)
And as you can see, travelling or having limiting circumstances is no reason not to take good care of yourself. Where there's a will, there's a way!
Feel free to comment with your favourite chai recipes and variations!
The nutrition facts in this post were correlated from information on these websites:
You can purchase brain octane oil and other bulletproof products here
Or if you're in Australia from here