Chai is a Indian “tea”, traditionally made with a variety of spices, black tea, water, milk, and sweetener. The spices in chai are used in Ayurvedic cooking and healing for their digestive properties.
Cinnamon promotes digestion and strengthens circulation. Coriander is a digestive that balances the heat of pungent foods and spices. Cardamom is one of the best digestive herbs; it stimulates the digestive fire and neutralizes mucous in the stomach. Black pepper is a strong digestive spice, as it cleanses the digestive tract and destroys toxins. Ginger is a universal digestive remedy; it relieves indigestion, and gas and cramps in the abdomen. Clove is a warm digestive aid and carminative. And nutmeg increases absorption, and has a calming effect on an agitated mind. For a cooler maybe summer version, you can add fennel or licorice. Slightly cooling, fennel strengthens digestion and reduces gas. Licorice is a mild laxative and it smooths and tones the mucous membranes. Together, these spices provide a perfect after-dinner beverage, morning wake-up drink, or mid-day treat! Although I put measurements with each ingredient, everyone’s palate is different, so adjust amounts to your taste; and while you can add black tea if you like, this is a caffeine-free recipe.
Combine in a large pot:
4 cinnamon sticks
2 tsp whole coriander seeds
15 whole cardamom pods crushed
1 tsp black peppercorns
10 thin slices fresh ginger root
10 whole cloves
fresh grated nutmeg
* 1 tsp licorice root, optional
* 1/2 tsp fennel seeds, optional
4 quarts water
Bring to boil, then reduce and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Strain. More water can be added if it has boiled too long and is overly spicy. This strongly flavored base can be made in bulk and refrigerated. Then, simply heat desired amount in a small pan with 1/2-part milk (cow, almond, rice, etc.) and sweetener (honey, maple syrup, agave, etc.) to taste!