Masala chai is an ancient medicinal drink originating from India and Southeast Asia. Simply known as chai in western countries, it has gained popularity and is offered along with coffee in many cafes.
Many countries around the world use the word ‘chai’ to refer to plain black tea, and ‘masala’ as a blend of spices. Together it’s known as masala chai. The oldest recipes include a blending of cardamom, cinnamon, clove, ginger, and black pepper. The spices are crushed and boiled along with black tea leaves. The spices are then strained, and milk is added to create a creamy spicy taste sensation.
Ayurveda uses chai medicinally. The spices are both drying and warming, and a perfect remedy for cold wet weather. People with dominant Kapha tendencies (moist and cold qualities), either by their natural constitution or excess imbalance will benefit from drinking chai on a regular basis.
Let’s take a closer look at why Ayurveda uses these spices for many conditions.
One of the prominent tastes in chai is cardamom; a plant native to Southeast Asia, and my favorite. Cardamom is an aromatic seed pod filled with oils that stimulate digestion and absorption, clear mucous and relax muscles.
Cinnamon is the bark of the tree; but not all types are medicinal. True cinnamon is Ceylon Cinnamon. Cinnamon strengthens digestion, relaxes muscles and destroys toxins through its sweating action.
Cloves are dried flowers of an evergreen tree. They increase digestion and absorption, clear mucous and relieve pain.
Ginger Root is chai’s secret healing ingredient. It has a powerful ability to destroy toxins while improving digestion, clear mucous and relieve pain.
Black Pepper is a very powerful seed that not only destroys toxins it actually helps us digest them. A cup of chai holds great benefits for those with low appetite, slow metabolism and weight gain, as well as respiratory congestion or even the onset of cold symptoms. It’s no wonder this tasty drink has become so popular!
As perfect as the traditional chai recipe is, other spices and herbs may also be added for additional taste and medicinal value. Vanilla’s unique flavor comes from the pod of an orchid plant and is known to lift depression and mood. Turmeric is another favorite with an earthy flavor it has the ability to balance blood sugar, reduce pain and inflammation. Chaga mushroom grows on birch trees; adds a tasty nutty flavor, and is one of the world’s strongest immune boosting super foods. Cacao the most revered taste of all time; triggers the release of dopamine and endorphin, two hormones that make us feel really good. As you see there are many possibilities for making a cup of chai…I will let you dream and create your own masala!
Numi Golden Latte Mixes are available at Sprouts Farmers Markets nationwide, and will be available at other outlets (including shop.numitea.com and Amazon) mid to late December. If interested, you can sign up for our mailing list to be notified when the product is back in stock.
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Ayurvedic Medicine, The Principles of Traditional Practice by Sebastian Pole, Lic OHM, Ayur HC
Chocolate: Modern Science Investigates an ancient Medicine http://jn.nutrition.org/content/130/8/2057S.full.pdf
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