Chai Time


By Kaitlin Quistgaard  |  

To get toasty on a chilly day, start from the inside out, with warm, well-spiced food and drink that stoke your agni, or digestive fire. Beth Baker, a personal chef and the principal cook at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, California, often makes gallons of this decadent chai to warm up meditators on silent retreat.

To make an agni-enhancing herbal version you can sip all day, follow steps 1 and 2, reheat, and strain, adding extra hot water as necessary. For a rich and heavenly pick-me-up, follow steps 3, 4, and 5 to add the milk (dairy or non), black tea, and sweetener.

  1. To make 1 quart of chai, grind in a spice grinder:
    • 11⁄2 teaspoons coriander seeds
    • 3 tablespoons fresh cardamom pods
  2. Bring to a boil, then let sit overnight:
    • 2 cups water
    • 1⁄3 cup ginger, finely chopped
    • 1⁄2 teaspoon black peppercorns
    • the ground cardamom and coriander
    • 1 cinnamon stick
    • 3 cloves
    • 1 dash allspice
    • 3⁄4 teaspoon licorice root (optional)
  3. Add 3 cups of milk and carefully bring to a low boil, stirring continuously so as not to scorch it.
  4. Add 2 or 3 tablespoons good-quality black
    tea and simmer for 5 minutes.
  5. Strain and sweeten to taste with 2 to 31⁄2
    tablespoons maple syrup, honey, or sugar.