Do you tend to be sensitive to cold weather in the winter, or air conditioned buildings in the summer? Do you have a hard time staying warm, no matter how many layers you’re wearing? There’s an easy and delicious Chinese herbal solution for being cold that you can put together easily at home, using spices that are likely already hanging out in your kitchen!
There happens to be an entire category of herbs in the Chinese materia medica devoted just to warming us up and getting rid of the cold. These warming herbs go deep into the body and keep us warm from the inside out. And -- many of these herbs are conveniently in most chai tea recipes! Try this one out, and let me know how it goes.
**Important note on shopping for spices**
Choose organic spices over conventional, since conventional spices are produced with lots of toxic pesticides and irradiation. In fact, in my kitchen, spices are second on my list of organic priorities, right after eggs / meat / animal products. It’s best to buy your organic spices in small quantities from stores with high turnover, ensuring the best taste, potency, and safety.
Herbal Chai Tea Concentrate
(makes 6-8 cups)
- 8-10 cups of water (use 8 if you prefer more concentrated flavors, and 10 if you prefer a milder flavor)
- 4 cinnamon sticks
- 4” piece of ginger, unpeeled + sliced
- 25 cloves
- 25 cardamom pods (I use green)
- 10 allspice berries
- 5 star anise
- 1 tbsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 8 tbsp rooibos, black, or mate tea (if you go with mate, I’d recommend putting it in tea bags because it’s often powdery / hard to strain)
- 5-8 pieces dried astragalus root (huang qi), or 20-30 grams (optional)
- 1/2 vanilla pod
- 2 tbsp vanilla or almond extract
- 4-6 tbsp sweetener (honey, agave, yakon, coconut sugar, stevia) or to taste
- Combine water, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, cardamom, allspice, star anise, nutmeg, astragalus (if using), and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Add tea and vanilla pod (if using) and simmer for 10 more minutes.
- Remove from heat. Mix in vanilla extract and sweetener (if using).
- Allow to cool before straining into a mason jar or other container.
- Store the mix in fridge for 1 week.
- To serve, mix 1 part chai mix with 1 part milk (almond, coconut, etc) and warm on the stovetop. Enjoy!
Acupuncture treatment, moxibustion, and custom herbal formulas also do wonders for warming the body by increasing circulation and improving digestion, among many other things. If this chai recipe doesn't do the trick, I encourage you to reach out to me or visit your local acupuncture center for additional support.