6 Warming Herbs & Spices for Chai Tea

6 Warming Herbs & Spices – Chai

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Legend has it that the origin of chai dates back more than 5,000 years, when a king in what is now India ordered a healing spiced beverage be created. This was in keeping with the tradition of Ayurveda where Spices are a way of life and used for everyday healing. They are super tasty and have been the base for “Chai Tea’s” around the world. Also, Chai tea was originally only herbs and spices. Masala Chai for example didn’t start out with Camellia sinensis which is the black tea we see so often now.

The word “Masala” is actually a noun and means “Spice” while the word Chai is a Hindi word and means “tea”. Put them together and you have “Spice Tea” or in other words “Masala Chai”

So, In 1858, British Crown rule was established in India, ending a century of control by the East India Company. Long dark history there and a story for another day. The Chai spices came from India but the British ruled them at the time and they are the ones who had a fondness for Camellia Sinensis black tea from China, think English Breakfast and Earl Grey. The Assam and Darjeeling teas are native to India are the most popular to use as a “non-herbal” chai base.

These days you’ll also find chai made with various types of green teas, the South American yerba mate or the South African herb red rooibos. You will also find completely herbal blends made only from spices and containing no tea leaves.

As for the milk and sugar? Those were also later additions to Chai tea. They became popular around the mid 1800’s throughout Europe, specifically England, and into India and the Middle East

And now you know why I couldn’t just pick one recipe! So, rather than choose, I just decided to have them all lol

Now on to the 6 basic herbs & spices in an herbal chai: Cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, fennel, ginger and black pepper.

Cinnamon- Ironic that cinnamon controls blood sugar problems and yet we add lots of sugar to it to create some of the tastiest treats. And Yes, there are 2 cinnamons: what we commonly use here in the USA is Cassia cinnamon. It comes from the same botanical family as true cinnamon – verum cinnamon - but Cassia is the sweeter and stronger version.  True cinnamon is found more often in Mexico, Latin America, India and other nations in South Asia.

  •  Calms the stomach
  • Long-term blood sugar control
  • Antibacterial – think H. Pylori
  • Anti-fungal - wonderful for Candida

Cardamom - By far one of the worlds most expensive spices and is known as the “Queen of Spices” (Pepper is King). Expensive due to its impressive medicinal value. The medicine is in the pods – before they are ground up. The best pods are small, with a gnarly oval shape and a paper-like husk. They are lime green. You want an even & vivid color. If you can’t find the pods then go for the seeds. The volatile oils are preserved in seed form until you are ready to grind them up and use them.

  • Support the cardiovascular system – specifically blood pressure and preventing blood clots
  • Support the lungs – asthma, bronchitis
  • Clears up sinus infections?
  • Supports the immune system – cold & flu
  • Supports the digestive system – Colic, constipation and diarrhea
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anti-spasmodic

Cloves - Technically Cloves are dried flower buds from an evergreen tree and have a long and fascinating history. Perhaps I’ll do a LIVE on just cloves another day 

  • Known for its anti-nausea properties
  • Supports the stomach and intestines – gas issues
  • Promotes digestion and nutritional absorption
  • Pain relieving for tooth problems
  • A strong broad-spectrum antibiotic
  • Antibacterial – think H. Pylori again

Fennel - Fennel is technically a vegetable, herb and spice. The ground level bulb that sprouts is the vegetable, the willowy fronds that flower is the herb and those flowers are what produce the aromatic seeds we know as fennel

  • A few potent phytochemicals – including phytoestrogens that might be a woman’s best friend
  • Both during her cycle or while nursing
  • Powerful anti-inflammatory
  • Supports the digestive system
  • Known to prevent nausea
  • Rich source of Vitamin A
  • Supports the intestinal tract – helps rid the mucus
  • Supports the detox process of the gallbladder and liver

Ginger - Well known for it’s uses with nausea – No matter what type it is, Ginger says no. This dates back to the dawn of time but it was the Spanish who introduced the Americas to Ginger in the early part of the 16th century (1500’s)

  • Supports the digestive system – heartburn & stomachaches, abdominal cramping
  • Supports the blood and circulation - high cholesterol (hardening of the arteries or strokes)
  • Supports the lungs – asthma, chronic bronchitis
  • Has been known to reduce migraines
  • Supports and builds the immune system

Black Pepper - Considered the “king of Spices” and more valuable than gold during the middle ages. Its origins were also a closely guarded secret with wild tales of danger and mysterious islands. It was during the “Spice Wars” (15th century) that things got even crazier. Once the tariffs and taxes drove up the price of pepper to insane amounts, Christopher Columbus set sail looking for the mysterious land of pepper. Columbus set sail, leaving Spain and headed towards the “secret” land of pepper somewhere near India’s Malabar Coast. We all know how that voyage turned out! Pepper:

  • Supports the digestive system – triggers the pancreas to start producing digestive enzymes
  • Tones the lining of the intestines too
  • Speeds up Transit time – Slow transit times are connected to gut issues and constipation
  • Enhances the effectiveness of medications – the metabolize faster
  • Known for its anti-cancer properties – specifically colon, breast and lung
  • Anti-inflammatory -arthritis and joint pain
  • Supports the heart and lowers high BP

6 Warming Herbs & Spices – Chai and that’s a wrap!

Loving you all, Emily

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