• Renata Lynn Atkinson

Feeling Winter’s Chill? Warm Up with My Favorite Chai Blend

We’ve had the first snow of the season here in Maryland and it was a wet, icy, bone chilling snow that got me reaching for my favorite chai blend to keep warm. One of my favorite things about chai blends is their accessibility. Most of the ingredients are probably already in your kitchen, or at least at your local grocery store.

We appreciate the pungent and aromatic spices that are typically included in chai blends for their pleasant taste and warming effects, but they have many benefits and a daily cup (or two) of a chai blend is a great way support and enhance your health through the winter season. A cup before meals will aid digestion, but if you have any issues with gastritis, reflux, or ulcers have your chai with your meal or after.

Chai actually translates to tea and refers to the preparation and masala means spice, so you’ll hear the term masala chai, or spiced tea to describe chai blends. Traditionally, chai blends include black tea, but it can be omitted according one’s preference. And there really is no “one” correct chai blend, I think of it more like a menu of spices to choose from.

Some typical Chai herbs

  • Ginger

  • Cinnamon

  • Cardamom

  • Fennel

  • Anise

  • Clove

  • Black pepper

Aromatic and pungent herbs exert their warming effects through stimulating circulation, interacting with thermoregulatory receptors and other physiologic mechanisms. They also have digestive and respiratory benefits. Ginger (Zingiber officinalis), for instance, stimulates digestive secretions and intestinal motility, and relieves nausea. Ginger’s antispasmodic activity can relieve digestive cramping and calm spastic coughs, while encouraging productive ones. Ginger also has potent anti-inflammatory activity.

Cinnamon (Cinnamomum spp.), fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), and cardamom (Elletaria cardamomum) have carminative action and can dispel gas and relieve bloating. Cinnamon and fennel are warming and soothing to the respiratory system and help keep mucus thin and loose.

My favorite chai blend

  • ½ tablespoon fresh grated ginger

  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon chips or 1 cinnamon stick

  • 1 tablespoon dried orange peel

  • ½ tablespoon fennel seed

  • ½ teaspoon peppercorns

  • ½ teaspoon cloves

Simmer gently in 4-6 cups of water for 30 minutes. Add honey and the milk of your choice you like and enjoy!

Check out the resources page on my website for trusted sources of herbs and herbal products.

Renata is a clinical herbalist, scientist, gardener, and woodland wanderer who helps women create profound transformation in their lives through the healing power of herbal medicine and the practice of devoted self-care. She has a BS in Chemistry from University of Maryland, a MS in Therapeutic Herbalism, and a Post Masters Certificate in Clinical Herbalism from Maryland University of Integrative Health.

Find Renata at renalynn.com and on Facebook @renatalynnclinicalherbalist.

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