I am excited to share this guest post from one of my favourite Vancouver yogis, Maitreyi. Its a recipe that every Ayurvedic practitioner knows and loves; and a drink that adults and children can both enjoy equally. Its is a great alternative to tea and coffee, with the same pick-me-up quality, and unlike regular chai, no cost to your life-force levels. Enjoy!
Chai chai recipe...And the Tantra of Tea
Chai means tea in Hindi and masala chai means spiced tea. My grandmother never let the kids have chai because tea and coffee according to ayurveda are habit forming. Plus both are said to increase pitha and acidity , which increases grey hairs. No woman wants that!
My grandma said that if I wanted my hair dark till a ripe old age, I should avoid drinking tea or coffee. She would point to those who were greying in their 20's or lost hair and say "too much pittam." That made me avoid drinking it in my teens when I was tempted, before exam nights to cram answers in, last minute.
However she let us have masala milk or masala brew in water, whose stellar qualities rose to the occasion of relieving every cold, cough and stomach upset I had. What is originally masala milk or masala tea in India, is called chai tea in the west, which translates to tea tea :). This is how vendors sell it in trains and some streets in India. Chai chai or tea tea in their gutteral vendor melodies will be heard resonating and reminding ones taste buds of this familiar upper with way too much sugar added, for my liking. So the western stores and restaurants are not far off.
Masala or spices are an excellent infusion to have in water when one has an upset tummy or in nut milks to boost immunity and heal a range of imbalances from inflammation to depression, as well as being anti ageing. I substitute milk with nut milks and instead of black tea use rooibos if needed.
The curcumin in turmeric is better absorbed when pepper is used or cooked along with it. That's why in ayurvedic recipes you will always find this combination together. The combination of spices further enhances the effectiveness of the herbs. Below the recipe, I will give you some pointers about the spices and if it has peaked your interest then you can always search the net for more on their benefits.
Boil the herbs listed below in 4 cups of water.
Chanting and saying a prayer enhance the qualities of the chai as do all positive sound vibrations. If you are with someone who is very chatty for their own good or nosy then extend the chanting to the whole length of making the chai, leaving absolutely no room for any triggering questions that you may be forced to evade. You may further extend it to doing a ajapa japa or internal chanting while drinking the chai depending on whom you are with. Add to this a strategic smitha or a smile , with a japa mala in the other hand for effect and you have perfected the art of the yoga of chai :)
1. Ginger - 1 inch, crushed in a mortar and pestle. This is a must in every Indian kitchen. Do not worry if you do not have one, just whack it lovingly with a clean hammer on a cutting board or grate it if you are patient and add to water.
2. Turmeric piece - half an inch , do the same as above. Or use half tsp powder if you do not have the fresh one
3. Peppercorns - a quarter to half tsp crushed. Depending on how spicy you want your chai. The best peppers come from Kerala more specifically a region there called Talicherry
4. Cinnamon - Half to one stick of Ceylon cinnamon. Yes there is a lesser cinnamon.
5. Cardamom - 4 to 6 pods - Smells divine and crush it a bit and add to water. These are also native to Kerala and the western ghats in India. And there is a bastard variety here as well. I am not making this up !. Though both varieties are known to have medicinal properties.
6. Cloves - 4 to 6 roughly crushed. They are indigenous to India, Indonesia and some areas in east africa. Its origins are traced back to Mollucas islands in Indonesia
7. Cumin, Fennel and Ajwain - 1tsp to one and half tsp combined. If you cannot find ajwain, the chai still tastes good. Ajwain in hindi and omam in Tamil and bishop's weed or carrom in English. This omam water on its own was given to babies to release gas
8. Nutmeg - One pinch. Was used as a sedative for babies in small quantities in India
9. Mint - 1 tsp . Called pudhina in both Tamil and Hindi it is used in chutneys, curries and medicinally in Ayurveda
10. Tulsi - 1 tsp - This is lakshmi's plant and more below
11. Rooibos - 1 tsp - Native to South Africa with many benefits
12 Jaggery - small piece. Jaggery is a raw indian cane sugar which is unprocessed and has the minerals and molasses along with the sugars. Rich in iron
13. Rose hips - 2 tbsp - Very high in Vitamin C
14. Organic nut milk of choice- 3 cups
Boil the ingredients for 10 mins in water. Slowly add the nut milk and boil for another 5 to 10 mins. You can let it simmer for more time as well to allow for flavours to seep in.
Chai version 1
Use all listed ingredients
Chai version 2
A tasty and healthy chai with just the first 6 ingredients alone. Add saffron if inspired
The ajwain has a strong flavour and I add saffron into the cup after masala chai is strained, if I do not add the ajwain to the brew.
Chai version 3
If you are a cardamom fan like I am, then double the quantity of cardamom. Add to just turmeric and pepper and nut milk.
Chai version 4
If you like a mint tone to the chai and have a lot of fresh mint in your garden, then make pudhina masala chai with one bunch of mint leaves with ingredients 1 to 3 or 1 to 6
Chai version 5
To the above recipe add orange juice instead of milk. Do not boil with the juice. Or add a little lemon
As you can see, I have made many permutations and combinations of this chai. Feel free to experiment.
All the above spices clear ama or the undigested matter that can cause stagnation and therefore illness. Each of them has myriads of benefits. You can read about them on the net
ABOUT YOGACHARINI MAITREYI:
Maitreyi's heart sings to see lives blossom into consciousness. She is a Practical Mystic and International speaker who has presented in over 20 conferences around the world. She has been teaching internationally for over 22 years. She has trained over 60 corporations in self and stress management and enlightened leadership.
With over 100 published articles and poems in leading news dailies and journals, Maitreyi has been given many titles: Yogacharini (Guide and Visionary), Yoga Chemmal (Expert) and Yoga Shiromani (gem) since 1997 in India. She runs a foundation for children who live in the slums of Chennai/India.
Maitreyi has called Vancouver home for the last three years after feeling called to build more community and train
Arkaya Yoga Teachers and Healers in the city. She greatly enjoys and sees the value of community and wholesome communion. Through gentle mindful practice she leads participants into relaxed states as well as the deeper dimensions of yoga. To know more about the Arkaya teacher training or online Foundations for life course, which is module 1 of the Teacher Training email firstname.lastname@example.org, www.arkaya.net
UPCOMING PROGRAMS - www.arkaya.net/upcoming-events
Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/arkaya.maitreyi/
1. Arkaya Community class - Every Saturday via zoom from 11.00 am to 1.00 pm
2. Online Foundations for Life program - 30 hrs + 20 practicum hrs
3. 300 hr Arkaya Teacher training - This is for anyone who wants to deepen their connection to themselves and the universe and be able to facilitate a structured heart centred practice. Spread across 4 modules for better integration and assimilation.
4. Arkaya holistic realignment with Yogacharini Maitreyi - Individual sessions via phone , zoom or in person. There will be an assessment of chakra and energy flows as well as physical, emotional and mental realignment to allow for ones best life to unfold. email@example.com