By Cat, November 2016 (image, right, from Lisa’s Project Vegan blog (3)
For a caffeinated beverage, I far prefer a good espresso or latte to chai, mainly because I’m not much of a black tea drinker. But when it comes to warming medicinal beverages, this caffeine-free chai is perfect. Especially in fall/winter and early spring when colds and flu are rampant. It is an immune-boosting, warming and preventative beverage made without tea. It is related to Golden Milk but doesn’t include turmeric (you could add that if you wish).
Immune-boosting homemade chai
The original inspiration for this beverage is from a Winter Wellness Recipes file from Learning Herbs, by Rosalee de la Forét (1). But I prefer to change a few of the ingredients in her recipe since they are hard to come by where I live in rural Montana. So I’ve based my version on an Epicurious Homemade Chai recipe (2), without the black tea and adding additional immune-enhancing herbs from Rosalee’s recipe. I’m not sure how many servings this makes but likely 4 – 6.
I recommend sweetening with raw local honey to maximize the immune-boosting qualities of this beverage, especially if you have environmental allergies.
For more about astragalus root, and a great image of this herb, see Wellness Mama (4).
If you want to use fresh ginger root, peel then grate it or slice it thinly. All dried spices should be ‘fresh’ (not past their sell-by date) for maximum flavor and healthfulness.
To make your own dried ingredients:
- orange peel, see the Kitchn Blog (6)
- ginger root, see Livestrong or LeafTV (7),or my post: Herbs & Spices, G – Z under ‘ginger’ for my testing. I note that my dried ginger root is difficult to measure because it is so stringy (if it is sliced thinly lengthwise before drying). Better to slice it crosswise with sharp knife to avoid stringiness)
I dried 1.3 oz ginger before peeling; 1.1 oz ginger after peeling); it was 0.1 oz (5 g) after drying and is a scant 2 Tbsp when crushed a bit to fit in the measuring spoon. Fresh to dried ratio: 11:1 (comparing unpeeled fresh) with dried.
Ingredients & Equipment
- 2 Tbsp or 3 – 6 g dried ginger root (about 1.3 oz fresh ginger with peel before drying); or 1/2 – 1 tsp powdered ginger. Using peeled fresh ginger may be better option.
- 2 Tbsp chopped and dried orange peel, or 0.4 oz (see (6) for drying instructions)
- 2 fresh cinnamon sticks
- 1 – 2 tsp black peppercorns
- 3 -4 whole cloves
- 6 or more crushed green cardamom pods (papery covering and tiny seeds)
- 10 – 20 grams dried astragalus root (0.35 – 0.70 ounces at sea level); see Wellness Mama (4) for more about astragalus root
- 6 – 9 grams dried reishi mushrooms (0.2 – 0.3 ounces at sea level)
- 1 ½ quarts (6 cups) filtered water
- Optional herbs/spices (5):
- coriander seed
- star anise
- fennel seeds.
- To serve:
- fresh milk (or cashew, almond, or coconut milk)
- raw local honey
- 3-quart saucepan OR crockpot
- mesh strainer
- small saucepan
- Place all Chai ingredients including water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 1 hour. OR place all in crockpot; set heat to low and cook overnight.
- Strain. Store in glass jars in the refrigerator.
- Serve: Heat a shy cup of the chai liquid with some milk and honey to taste in small saucepan, just to warming temperature, about 145°F. Remove from heat and pour into a cup. Garnish with a sprinkle of ground cinnamon if desired.
11/29-30/16: made roughly half recipe (2 – 3 servings); don’t have dried ginger root so used ground ginger. (1/4 tsp ginger powder, 1 Tbsp dried chopped orange peel, 1 cinnamon stick, 1 tsp black peppercorns, 2 whole cloves, 2 crushed green cardamom pods, 10 g astragalus root, 6 g dried reishi in 3 cups filtered water). Cooked in crockpot on low overnight (9 PM – 9 AM). Strained into a jar and into fridge, except reserved about 1/2 cup for my saucepan, then added 1/4 cup raw milk and a tiny bit of honey and warmed the mix. Result: Pretty weak in flavor, so I sprinkled a little ground cardamom and cinnamon on top. Much better, but I think more of the flavorful spices would be appropriate (cinnamon, cardamom, ginger*), and perhaps an addition of crushed red pepper flakes. Definitely something I won’t mind drinking 2 – 3 times a day when I’m trying to avoid a cold/flu, or once a day otherwise. I think it would benefit from fennel or star anise in the overnight slow-cooker.
*I used powdered ginger instead of dried root as in original recipe, but was unsure of equivalence. For half recipe: I think 1/2 – 1 tsp ginger powder would have been better, but how much dried root? At least double the cardamom; increase cloves to 3.
12/8/16 Testing: Weighed Tbsp measurements in oz/grams and updated recipe; for ginger, I started with 1.5 oz 5 fresh unpeeled root, weighed it, then peeled, dried and weighed again. I got 1 – 2 Tbsp after drying (it’s so stringy is hard to measure in spoons), which weighed 5 g (will use this amount for this testing. Made roughly half-recipe (see amounts, below).Added all to 3 cups filtered water and brought to boil; reduced to simmer for 1 hour using simmer plate. Started simmer at 10:15 AM. Removed from heat at 11:21 AM.
- 5 g dried ginger root (approximately 2 Tbsp, as in full recipe). Next time try 2 – 3 grams
- 8 g dried orange peel (1 Tbsp)
- 1 cinnamon stick Next time use fresher stick or add cinnamon powder.
- 1 tsp peppercorns (plus 2 crushed red pepper)
- 2 whole cloves
- 4 crushed green cardamom pods
- 10 g astragalus root
- 5 g dried reishi and 3 cups filtered water.
Result: Slightly off-flavor compared to previous test. I think it needs more cinnamon (or fresher cinnamon sticks – mine are old) and less ginger.I sprinkled some ground cinnamon on top, which improved flavor. Updated recipe per my suggested changes.
- Learning Herbs: Winter Wellness Recipes, by Rosalee de la Forét. You have to register for the Winter Wellness class to get her recipe; see learningherbs.com
- Epicurious Homemade Chai recipe: epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/homemade-chai-201226
- Lisa’s Project Vegan blog: lisasprojectvegan.com/2014/03/11/fresh-ginger-turmeric
- Wellness Mama on Astragalus Root, includes image: wellnessmama.com/15726/astragalus-root-benefits
- The Kitchn blog: 5 spices (or more) for homemade chai tea: thekitchn.com/the-5-spices-you-need-for-homemade-chai-200440
- The Kitchn Blog: Homemade dried orange peel: thekitchn.com/how-i-make-dried-orange-peels-for-homemade-bitters-the-9bottle-bar-212236
- How to dry ginger root: livestrong.com/article/232697-how-to-dry-ginger-root or LeafTV: leaf.tv/articles/how-to-dry-ginger-root
- Fresh-to-dried herb equivalence: healwithfood.org/substitute/convert-fresh-dried-herbs-recipes-chart.php#ixzz4RizWryTu