In India, when the clock strikes four, the kettle goes on and life stops—it's chai time. Chai time is a time to connect with friends and family, relax and have a cup of tea. If you're lucky, chai time comes with snacks. If you're really lucky, and not on the healthy train, it comes with samosas too.
Full of antioxidants, chai is also a great health-booster, especially when made with lowfat milk. A classic cup of Indian chai is made from black tea (my favorites are Lipton Yellow Label or Taj Mahal), milk, and sugar. The more authentic Indian treat, Masala chai, includes a mixture of spices, mint, and ginger. Contrary to popular belief, black tea is as powerful as its green cousin. It helps fight against viruses, diseases, and heart problems. Ginger is a great digestive aide and helps fight against inflammation. Mint is a natural diuretic that helps calm nerves and fight against irritable bowel syndrome.
A daily cup of chai is one tradition I've kept up in my own household here in the United States. Not only does it curb my appetite until the dinner hour, but it also helps keep my heart and body healthy too.
My Perfect Cuppa Chai
3 whole cloves
2 cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
4 mint leaves
2 slices of ginger
1 cup water
1 tablespoon granulated sugar (Splenda or stevia works well too)
Crush the cloves, cardamom pods, and cinnamon. Transfer the crushed spices to a small saucepan, with the mint and ginger add water bring to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat, cover and let steep for five minutes. Add the milk and sugar to the pan and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and drop in the tea bags. Cover and let steep for three minutes. Stir the chai, strain it into a warmed teapot or directly into teacups. Spice it up with mint, lemon grass, black peppercorns, or ginger.
Next time you find yourself overworked, under slept, and just dragging around the mid-afternoon hours, stop and turn on the kettle.
Edited by Alison Stanton