Autumn. My favorite time of the year. Leaves turning, a briskness in the air that is quite invigorating. I find myself gravitating towards steamy drinks of the most spicy kind. Enter Vegan Vata Chai. This is my standard wake-up drink pretty much every morning now. Trish, a dear friend, can attest to the wonderfully rich aroma that fills these chill early mornings. Not only is chai a lovely way to start the day, but it is chock full of excellent benefits. It's the ultimate grounding beverage with a little kick, minus the jitters of coffee. Think delightful without sugared or caffeinated guilt.
During the times I have spent in India, chai was a staple and each region of this diverse nation had their own signature style of the tea. I found my favorite to be leaning heavily towards the sweet spice of cinnamon and cardamom. Unfortunately, all chai in India is made with whole milk and heaps of sugar. After several months of drinking such a decadent concoction, I must say I did not feel the most vibrant or healthy. So the quest for a convincing (and delicious) alternative began.
Vata is the wind element in Ayurveda and tends to be unbalanced in our fast-paced, rush around lives. It is quick, light, and cool. When vata becomes aggravated, we become worrisome, scattered, forgetful, and ungrounded. Our vata nature is nurtured into balance by warm, sweet, and earthy flavors. Ginger helps with circulation and warms the system. Ditto for the cloves and cinnamon. The licorice root adds a nice little kick by increasing energy and balancing blood sugar levels. However, if you have high-blood pressure, skip this herb. I use rooibos tea which has a rich, earthy quality while providing abundant antioxidants. As an added bonus, rooibos is caffeine free.
Wishing all an abundant, spicy, and heart centered autumn!
Vegan Vata Chai
Yield: 8 cups/four generous servings
*As always, organic ingredients are best for flavor, nutrition, and the environment.
I like to make a big pot and have it on a gentle simmer throughout the day. As the ultimate comfort beverage, Vegan Vata Chai keeps me going during these brisk, busy days.
1 1/2 quarts of filtered water
4 tablespoons loose rooibos tea
2 tablespoons licorice root, shredded or chopped
1 tablespoon cardamom seed
2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
3 whole star anise
1 stick of cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon whole cloves
2 cups unsweetened almond, hemp, or coconut milk
Stevia to taste
Simmer rooibos, licorice, cardamon, ginger, anise, cinnamon, and cloves in water for 15-20 minutes. Strain and return tea to pot. Add non-dairy milk of choice plus stevia to sweeten. Share joyfully with friends, family and those you love.
"May you always have walls for the winds, a roof for the rain, tea beside the fire, laughter to cheer you, those you love near you and all your heart might desire." -Irish Blessing