Photo credit: Parks Photography
Chai. It’s like the one word summary of all things I loved in my early twenties. Warm, cozy, with a bit of spice…or cold, with an energizing boost. I’d take them either way.
This years long love affair began with Caribou and a dear friend twenty years my senior. We both had dogs and would meet almost daily to run them in the woods or along the regional trail near our homes. When those mornings included frost or snow, well, then, Chai.
Off we would go into the woods with mugs of hot oatmeal with applesauce and return back to her house if we didn’t hit up the coffee shop. She kept Oregon Chai on hand at home, which was my favorite brand. I loved that because I was twenty something and didn’t have any money to spend on them at Caribou….unless, I had money to spend on them at Caribou. I suspect I wasn’t the only one managing my finances in such a fashion at that age.
We shared so much time together (over Chai) and made so many memories…it was a friendship much needed for my mental health at the time. We both loved to read, she taught me to sew in her basement so I could then use the machine I had been handed down on my own. With music playing in the background, deep conversation, and Chai, all was right for the world during those times when outside of her nurturing space, I wasn’t so sure.
Upon reflection, the other thing going on (hindsight is 20/20) was that my mental health was triggered by a trauma from a year prior, but was also being impacted by my diet. Though I had begun making changes already, the changes weren’t consistent enough yet to ward off the ongoing bacterial infections I dealt with. And I hadn’t yet begun to educate myself (nor was anyone sharing this information with me at this point) on the gut/brain connection.
I had no idea that consuming the amount of sugar I was at the time was contributing to my ongoing (and building) health concerns. When I look back, goodies like my Chai and love of chocolate chip cookies, bagels, cereal, homemade bread and cheese were getting me into some big trouble—I just didn’t know it yet.
By age 23 I had been under the care of my acupuncturist for a few years and we had gotten to the point where dietary changes were necessary to maintain and gain progress on my health. Decreasing my intake of sugars was one of them. Had I known I could have found a way to continue drinking my Chai without the evaporated cane juice, I would have done it.
Fast forward twenty years and here we are, with a special little treat. Caffeine isn’t so much my friend, so this has to be consumed quite infrequently, but it’s an oh so delish rendezvouz with my past that I can’t wait to share with you.
Spiced Chai Latte
3 cups water
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp turmeric
⅓ cup honey
5-10 organic chai tea bags, depending upon strength/taste of your chai
2 cups creamer of choice (we use almond milk)
Add spices and honey to water, bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add tea bags. Steep for 15 minutes. Add creamer and enjoy. Serve hot or iced.
What are some of your favorite drinks, warm or cold?