Ayurveda & a Chai (Tea) Recipe – Warm & Delicious on Cold Days!

How does a delicious steaming hot cup of homemade chai sound?

’Tis the season of chai! Chai is not only delicious, but because it is warming, it stokes your digestive fire! This makes it great for those of vata and kapha constitution or imbalance. Not as good for pitta, as it can be too heating.

There are as many versions of chai as there are people who drink it, so below is just one variation. This recipe is my personal favorite, which I have made pretty much every morning for years. I modify it based on my mood, the season, what I have on hand, etc. I never actually measure, so below are just approximate amounts. This gives you a starting place from which to get creative and make your own personal masterpiece!

The recipe below is for making one tea mug full, so just double, triple, etc. if you wish to make more!

½ tea mug      Milk (cow’s milk or your favorite non-dairy milk alternative)
½ tea mug      Water
1 tsp.             Cinnamon chips (or approx. 1 cinnamon stick)
½ tsp            Cardamom seeds (also called decorticated cardamom)
Pinch              Fennel seeds (optional; this keeps the chai from being overly heating)
2-5                 Black peppercorns (depending on the season and how spicy you want it)
2-5                 Cloves (same as black peppercorns)
1 tsp              Tea – black, green, white, oolong or rooibos tea (rooibos is naturally caffeine-free)
to taste          Organic pure cane sugar or honey (unless you prefer unsweetened chai)

Begin with filling your tea mug about ½ full with whatever version of milk you plan to use, then fill it the rest of the way with water (so it’s about ½ milk, ½ water). Pour into a pan, add the remaining ingredients, stir. Bring to a simmer. The longer you simmer, the stronger the flavor, so adjust according to your preference. Turn off heat, strain, drink, and enjoy! Perfect for chilly autumn and winter days!

There are lots of variations, including:

Fresh or dried ginger
Vanilla beans
Nutmeg (at night you can skip the tea and use nutmeg to help you sleep. The effect kicks in about 4 hours after drinking. For medicinal effect, use about 1/8 – ¼ tsp. grated fresh nutmeg)
Mint (fresh or dried)
Fenugreek seeds

If you love chai as I do, and plan to make it often, make it easy on yourself ~ get a masala dabba (Indian spice box), available at Indian food stores and import stores ~ and keep all your chai spices together in one place!


By Dr. Marisa Jackson-Kinman, C.A.S., P.K.S., A.Y.T., Faculty at the California College of Ayurveda