It's Chai time! It can be chai time whenever you want, but seasonally, this is a wonderful time to enjoy masala. As we experience the cold months, Vata settles in & has a higher chance of pushing our imbalances. The spices in masala chai add warmth (fire) to bring balance to the coldness of the autumn & winter seasons.
Just like many Ayurvedic specialties, chai has made its way to the western world & enhanced our quality of life, wouldn't you say? Yogi's get excited for chai just as much as coffee connoisseurs for their macchiatos, (but our tummies feel better at the end of the day!). Over the last month, I have actually been drinking a consistent amount of coffee - with the Ayurvedic touch of added herbs. I would make it at home & add my homemade herbal mix of lion's mane, cardamom, cinnamon, cocoa, nutmeg & shatavari to balance out the inherent depletion of caffeine. And let me tell you, the herbal mix smelled SO. GOOD. It was truly a delight. The best part is, I didn't even feel the imbalanced "high" of the caffeine - just a smooth ride. However, after some time, I found myself getting some lattes out in the local coffee shops, and that's when my digestion / elimination suffered.
I started to think, "it's time to pause the coffee indulgence missy, even if it's a rose cardamom latte". Some bodies can handle coffee better than others & I'm surprised that my constitution had handled it as long as it did - it seems the herbal mix really helped. Then my Indian friend came over to receive an Abhyanga from me & he brought me some homemade chai! I thought, "this is it!" My saving grace from the intestinal coffee pains. I am very satisfied by warm herbal latte's & I have a very Vata expression currently. So the balance of Masala Chai will actually do my body & heart wonders during this time of year. Let's explore why...
Masala chai originated many thousand years ago. In India, chai is a drink used to welcome people into their homes. On average, people may have 4 cups daily as it is actually suitable for many occasions. It is popularly drank around 4pm with a savory snack such as samosas. That sounds so delicious & I cannot wait to try them together!
Classic Masala Chai ingredients vary by Indian households & family preferences, but they are a mix of:
These are all warming, except for the fennel. You may adjust your masala based on your intention & personal needs. Feel free to experiment as well! By learning herbal properties, you can create your own masala & stray from traditional recipes. Just make sure you try the traditional recipes first, as they are rooted in health & amazing flavor.
For enhanced focus + energy: emphasis on the black tea, or if you prefer no caffeine simply replace black tea with tulsi. Tulsi is a nervine stimulant yet it is sattvic so it provides clarity without any anxious energy.
To reduce inflammation: add some turmeric
For a stronger spiced masala: emphasis on the black peppercorns or ginger
For a sweeter tasting masala: emphasis on cinnamon
To relax the nervous system: add nutmeg
Experiment with a variety of black teas such as Assam, Darjeeling, Nilgiri, Ceylon, English Breakfast & Earl Grey.
2 teaspoons of ground masala to your liking
2 cups of water
Bring to a boil & then add:
2 teaspoons of jaggery & 2 teaspoons of black tea (The addition of black tea came along with the British influence along with the sugar. In India, jaggery is the traditional sweetener of masala chai. In the US, honey or cane sugar is usually used.)
Boil 2-3 minutes & then add:
1 cup of milk (whole or oat is recommended)
Lower the flame & cook / simmer for 10 minutes. The longer you boil, the thicker the chai. Strain & serve! Give thanks for this moment of warmth & nourishment while you enjoy your divine drink.