If I had a penny for every time someone asked me this question I would be a very rich woman. The short answer is thankfully, YES! The chai I am referring to is traditional a homemade recipe from whole spices and organic milk.
However, if you are drinking chai from a box at a commercial cafe, chances are it's been hanging out in that box for a while and it's probably loaded with refined sugar or even worse, corn syrup. Dun Dun Dun! Why is this bad? Two reasons. First the fact that it has been sitting around for so long means it has stagnant energy. When you drink that stagnant energy, it actually effects how you feel. One good example of this, try eating a can of beans vs. beans that you soaked and then cooked fresh! Also, refined white sugar has little or no medicinal value. It will cause your blood sugar to spike and then crash resulting in mood instability and irritability.
Now let's get back to the good stuff! Homemade chai. I learned how to make Chai from an Ayurvedic Master Chef, Sanjai Mathur from Vedika Global. My teacher, Acharya Shunya was a self-proclaimed chai addict, so by the time I graduated I was a self-proclaimed "chai making expert". I will include my recipe here for all of you chai lovers at the end of this blog, but first I will explain the medicinal values one ingredient at a time. Sanjai Ji taught us to use raw cane sugar, but I prefer maple syrup because I like that it comes straight from the tree!
1. Black Tea- Astringent nature, balances pitta and kapha dosha but be careful not to have too much because the caffeine can aggravate vata dosha. It is high in anti-oxidants and stimulates your circulation and energy flow.
2. Cardamom- Considered to have aphrodisiac qualities. Besides being a catalyst for romance, cardamom also has numerous other health benefits: Added to milk it neutralizes its mucus forming properties and helps to detoxify caffeine. It also clears sinuses and stimulates the mind and heart bringing clarity.
3. Ginger- Ginger has a strong pungent taste with sweet post digestive effect. It has hot potency and it is used in many herbal and food preparations. It is an analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-depressant, anti-diarrhea, and anti-oxidant. It is used for multiple symptoms like nausea, vomiting, headache, chest-pain, colds, stomach-pains, rheumatism, and nervous system disorders. Let's not forget about the anti-cancer properties!
4. Black Pepper- Pungent and heating, this spice acts as a stimulant and kindles agni (digestive fire) increasing the secretion of digestive juices and helps destroy toxins. Black pepper is good for the circulatory, digestive and respiratory systems.
Overall, chai is a warming drink that can help improve digestion and give you a pretty big boost of energy. Look out for the jitters and if they happen to you after you drink chai, it may be too much caffeine for you so you can switch to using caffeine free rooibos tea instead of black tea.
-Recipe for Chai- (serves 2)
1. Bring 2.5 cups of water to a boil.
2. Add 1 heaping tablespoon of freshly grated ginger, 5 crushed green cardamom pods, and 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper to the water and simmer on low for 5-8 minutes. Enjoy as the smell of heaven permeates your house.
3. Add 1.5 tablespoons of loose leaf black tea, or 2 tea bags. I prefer to use PG Tips tea bags if I go the tea bag route. Then turn off the heat and let the tea steep for 5 minutes.
4. Add 2/3 cup of whole organic milk and bring to a boil. Then add sweetener of choice to taste. (I prefer real maple syrup.)
5. Strain the tea and pour into your favorite mug and enjoy!
Have another question? Ask Litt! We are happy to answer whatever questions you may ponder!