A Yogi’s Drink
Chai is the chosen drink of yogi’s because of several reasons:
1: Caffeine helps to keep the mind awake when you are practicing deep breathing, meditation, and relaxation; these practices bring your body to a state on the verge of sleep. The extra stimulating boost that chai gives you can mean the difference between falling asleep or not in the middle of your practice.
2: Milk fat nourishes the nerves and buffers the highly available energy from the sugar and caffeine so that it doesn’t ravage your nervous system. Yoga practices that direct prana also create lots of heat and movement throughout the nervous system. Milk fat is a great way to keep our body insulated.
3: Ginger and black pepper provide digestibility and help you to digest the milk, while the other spices create a sattvic quality of mind.
4: Sugar helps pull all of these things deeper into the body. Your body considers sugar a friend and readily welcomes it in. Thus when your friend sugar arrives, the doors open and all of the spices – along with their benefits, are taken deeply into the body. Many people find that coffee doesn’t keep them awake at night, but when they drink coffee with sugars and syrups, it affects them more strongly. This is a reflection of the fact that our body opens the doors wide to sugar.
Here is a PDF of our chai recipe as written below. We hope you enjoy.
Combine in a large sauce pan – Make sure this pan is big enough to hold the contents from both pans when you combine them.
- 1 cup water – turn to high heat, bringing to boil
- Add 1 heaping tablespoon of loose black tea or 1-2 tea bags (rooibos tea works for a non-caffeinated option)
- Sugar to taste (usually 1-3 tablespoons)
- ¼-1/2 inch of a ginger root –peeled & grated or chopped
- 3 shakes of ground black pepper
- Combine in a small sauce pan
- 2 cups milk – turn to high heat, bringing to simmer but not to a boil!
- 3 strands of saffron
- Combine pan contents after the water pan has boiled for 30 seconds. The main purpose here is to assure the diffusion of the tea. Sometimes I take the pan off the heat for 30 seconds or so until my water turns nice and dark.
- Bring the combined pan to a boil. The mixture will froth up and if not pulled off the heat fast enough, it will boil over. So pull the pan from the heat, stir and let the froth go down. Repeat this 3 times so that you have fully mixed the ingredients and have denatured the milk proteins properly for easy digestion.
- Add aromatic spices – Add ground cardamom to the mixture, stir, and cover to cool.
- The milk will form a scum on the surface from oxidation if you do not cover the pot.
- Strain and serve. Enjoy!
- Your chai will increase in flavor if you refrain from straining out the whole pan until serving each cup individually. Some people like to strain the whole pot and serve in a separate decanter. This works best when serving family style.
Why 2 pots?
Using two pots speeds up the process of chai preparation; this is very important for true chai addicts! Typically it takes me 12 minutes to make chai in a single pot – yes I have timed it! This recipe is given for preparation in two pots, but the milk pot can easily be added to the water pot after the water pot boils for 30 seconds. Speed is often an important factor in our busy day and
A liquid recipe
Water: Milk ratio changes based on digestive capacity. The general rules are that the ratio starts at 1:2 and moves towards 2:1. Young or vigorous or Pitta should start with more milk while older, congested or convalescing people should start with more water.
The spicing of chai changes according to the season and your dosha. People find a variety of extra spices wonderful in their chai. Experiment and see what works for you.
Bacteria as Guide
The whole drink, when prepared with boiled milk is very bio-available, it means that it is all easily used by the body and doesn’t take too much energy to digest it. If you have any doubts about this, drink chai in the morning before you brush your teeth. You will find that after 30 minutes or so you have a heavily coated tongue. The extra bacteria have grown on that highly available chai energy.
I have tasted cooked milk products that have sat out for four or five hours. Chai tastes markedly more spoiled than most products after a mere three hours sitting out. Use bacteria as your guides to know what foods are more bio-available. The faster it rots – has small organisms eating it – the more bio- available the food will be.