The movie The Little Princess based on the novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett made a strong impression on me when I was 8 years old. The novel was written in 1905 and tells a beautiful story of a kind and courageous young girl who believes in magic. I identified myself with the adventurous girl and completely fell in love with the idea of going to India. I talked about it for years and dreamt of climbing massive Buddha heads, playing with elephants and chasing Indian Gods and Goddesses, just like in the movie.
When I was 21 years old I finally made it to India, the land of colour, strong smells and intensely populated streets. I felt challenged in every way possible and overcame some of my greatest fears of travelling alone. I landed in Varanasi. Hindu pilgrims bathed in the Ganges whilst others performed the funeral rites of burning loved ones. To make it even more interesting it was monsoon season, which meant it was raining a lot. I spent an entire month travelling in India. Each day was filled with incredible experiences that only India can really offer.
Completely blown away with the entire place, people and experience I found myself regularly looking for the small chai stalls. They were my place to relax, watch people and get away from all the hassling in the streets. Ever since, drinking chai became part of my weekly routine, especially during winter.
History of Chai
Chai is one of the oldest drinks in history and is a part of the daily rhythm in India. Chai folklore dates back to more than 5000 years ago. Traditionally it was created as an Ayurvedic herbal concoction that was brewed to heal certain ailments. Chai is believed to be highly balancing for the body, mind and soul. Black tea was slowly included into chai in the 1830s but didn’t become popular until the 1930s when the British East India Company established tea plantations in India.
Ayurvedic note: chai is balancing for all three doshas (pita, kapha and vata). Meaning it is beneficial for almost every body type.
I like making a big pot of chai, which I reheat throughout the day, over a period of 2-3 days. This way I save time and can enjoy a cup whilst busily working on Love & Co. products. This is why I don’t include milk in the preparation as it would go off sitting on the stove. I add milk when I am ready to drink. It isn’t the traditional way, it’s the mumtrepreneur way, which means saving time.
Chai recipes vary as each state of India varies. This recipe will make approximately 6-8 cups.
- 7 whole cardamom pods
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 2 – 3 cloves
- Fresh ginger – thinly sliced
- 6 cups filtered water
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 – 4 heaping teaspoons of loose leaf tea. If using tea bags, substitute 1 tea bag per teaspoon.
- Milk and sweetener to taste: preferably raw sugar or honey
Optional: fennel seeds or peppercorns
- Crush the spices in a mortar and pestle.
- Add spices, ginger and water to a large pot and bring to a boil. Upon boiling, let simmer for 10 – 20 minutes and allow the tea to reduce.
- Add tea-leaves (loose leaf teas have less packaging and more flavour).
- Bring the entire pot to a rolling boil, watch it carefully as this will happen quickly.
- Strain and pour into teacups.
- Heat milk in a separate pot or with your coffee machine and add to teacups.
- Add sweetener of your choice. The sweetness helps bring out the flavour of the spices.
- Serve and enjoy good company.
Smell the complex and stimulating aromas of chai and you’ll most likely want more.
Aphrodisiac Qualities of Chai
A well-prepared chai has a variety of spices that are incredible warming. These spices increase circulation and get your blood moving. Chai is known to stimulate and awaken your sexual senses, increasing libido. The aromas found in my Chai Perfume are known to be stimulating and warming. Chai is also great for the immune system and has many other medicinal qualities.
Spice things up with chai!