The Chaï life
The first time I ever ordered chaï tea (which is quite the peculiar sentence, as chaï is in fact the hindi word for just tea #funfact - so let me rephrase: the first time I ever ordered tea tea) was at a café in Stockholm some eight-or-so years ago. Chaï lattes had just made their way to Sweden and seemed to be all the range. I found it difficult to understand just what the fuss was about, as the steaming cup of watery milk with hints of cinnamon flavour was placed in front of me. Since then I have had my fair share of both bland and lively chaï mixes (although I still struggle to understand people who mix masala chai and COFFE?!) and have been intrigued to try and make it myself from scratch. No more bland tea!
Apart from being a heart warming, tasty beverage the chaï also happens to be quite the cocktail of immune system boosting ingredients. In other words - the perfect drink for September-October when just about every other person seems to be walking around with an oncoming cold-to-be.
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Let's have a look at some of the proclaimed health benefits:
Ginger reduces muscle cramps (menstrual ones too!), calms an upset belly and eases digestion as it is known to increase the production of digestive enzymes
Cardamom another digestion helper, also reduces risk of heartburn and mouth infection (better breath hey!).
Cloves works well against nausea, also good against coughs and colds.
Cinnamon is a bit of a jack of all trades; works as an antiseptic, regulates blood sugar levels, reduces nausea and is good for your (*drumroll*) digestion.
Black pepper increases the uptake of nutrients in the intestine.
Some notes before we get started...
- Avoid boiling the black tea and fennel as they tend to turn bitter when boiled. Instead add in once you have removed the pot from the stove and let steep in peace.
- Use whole spices if possible. Not only are they easier to strain, but also makes for a much livelier mixture.
You might also fancy adding:
- star anise
- bay leaves
- vanilla beans
- infuse it into a half chaï-half hot chocoalte beverage
- 5 cm fresh ginger - cut into cubes
- 8-10 cardamom pods - roasted + cracked
- 6 cinnamon sticks - crushed into small pieces
- 10-13 whole cloves
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- 1 tbsp fennel
- 3 tbsp black bea (like assam or darjeeling)
- 1,5 litre water
To serve: milk of choice + maple syrup
Simply place all spices, except black tea and fennel, into a large pot and bring to a gentle boil. Keep covered and let simmer for at least 30 minutes - the longer you brew, the stronger the tea (surprise eh!). Once satisfied with the flavour, remove from stove and add in the black tea + fennel. Let steep for 5 minutes before straining.
Fill the bottom of a mug with maple syrup, fill it half way with the tea and top off with warm, frothy milk. Sprinkle with ground cinnamon. Sip and enjoy!