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Health March 2018

Eat Right Now

Chai Taking Western World by Storm

By Wendell Fowler

The more I researched, the more benefits I discovered. Chai improves digestion, enhances the immune system, fights inflammation and has antioxidant properties. According to Ayurvedic (ancient Indian) medical philosophy, spices in chai are considered calming, vitalizing and mentally clarifying.

Inspired by the revelation that my daily cup-o-joe rendered my temple’s pH unhealthily acidic, I gradually cut down and began ordering frothy, heavenly sweet chai latte at our cozy neighborhood coffee shop. Oh my gosh, it was too delicious and I began ordering it regularly. Due to my unknowing, I let a barista brew the heady concoction. Well, one day I ask how it was sweetened: “Lots of sugar. It’s a powdered mix we buy.” Ugh…cue heart sinking and a jaunt to the tea shop.

Chai – rhymes with pie – dates back over 5,000 years when a king in India ordered a healing spiced beverage to be created for use in Ayurveda, a traditional medicinal practice in which herbs and spices are used for healing. There are scores of people in the modern world who cannot live without it. The spices in chai have been used for millennia to promote overall health, well-being, and to treat various illnesses.

NatureChronicle.com shares: Chai tea is derived from the leaves of tea plants and is believed to have originated in the forest lands of Western China, Tibet and Northern India. There is no exact time chronicled to claim the birth or discovery of  chai tea but according to a Chinese legend, it was discovered in 2737 B.C. by the emperor of China, Shen-Nung. Tea is known as “cha” in Chinese and later this word moved westward and into the middle Eastern languages and finally settled down as “ chai” in most parts of Asia and mainly in India.

Though the word “ chai” is a household name in India today, it still owes its discovery in India to the prince turned monk, Siddhartha of Lumbini (Lord Gautam Buddha). According to the preaching and texts of Buddhism, propagating-Buddhism Siddhartha was traveling towards China during the sixth century and it was during that tour that he miraculously discovered the power of chai tea.

The more I researched, the more benefits I discovered. Chai improves digestion, enhances the immune system, fights inflammation and has antioxidant properties. According to Ayurvedic (ancient Indian) medical philosophy, spices in chai are considered calming, vitalizing and mentally clarifying. Cherished for centuries in India, chai is traditional a blend of cardamom, ginger, cloves, cinnamon and black peppercorns – dominant chai spices readily available in India. Vanilla, nutmeg, mace, star anise or fennel may also be seen in some traditional recipes has been used to preserve health and increase peace of mind.

The heat from ginger and black pepper was believed to stimulate digestion; the antiseptic properties in cloves were thought to help relieve pain; cardamom was used as a mood elevator; cinnamon supported circulation and respiratory function; and star anise was known to freshen breath. Many say steamy hot chai tea tastes like wassail.

No one is suggesting you immediately stop drinking coffee. Just be aware of what java
does to your pH (acidity / alkalinity) and then gradually work chai into your habits. Chai can be steeped in water alone, a mixture of water and milk (nut milks too), or in milk alone, depending on your preference. Never boil milk, though, or you could scald or burn it, leaving an off flavor. Avoiding dairy? Try almond, cashew, hempseed or coconut milk and honey to the delicious, healing tea.

This human behavior of clinging to outdated, destructive eating patterns from a time that no longer exists incubates the majority of today’s largely preventable disease, aggressive social behavior, and diminished quality of late life. That, and not enough self-love to make changes to end the suffering or, meh, it’s too late in life, why bother now?     

Mindful change in your senior years can add more quality to the NOW. I can lead you to the water, or tea in this case, but it is you who must take a drink. Your “Earth Suit” is a marvel of the universe experiencing human form. Each of your trillions of cells reacts positively or negatively to what you consume, whether it be food, beverage, fear, TV or newsprint. How life plays out depends on the choices you make. We are at last discovering what Eastern practitioners have known for centuries. This ancient beverage is rightfully treasured by civilizations throughout the world. Honor your health one fragrant sip at a time.

 

Chef Wendell hosts Eat Right Now on WISH TV 8 CBS Indianapolis. He can be reached at 317-372-2592 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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