Making Time for Red Raspberry Leaf Chai
The weather is getting hot, here in western Oregon. And by hot, I mean it’s been in the 80′s. I know, the rest of the country laughs at us here in the Northwest. We’ll take your laughter, and our mellow weather. Pansies (the flowers) live nearly all year long here. Call us pansies. We’re a colorful bunch, if a bit on the sensitive side. But, I digress. It’s hot. It reminds me of India. And that reminds me of CHAI: sweet nectar of the goddesses with many arms, who do many different things, like MOMS! I’m probably not drinking enough water, which leaves me feeling a bit depleted, round about 3:00 in the afternoon. I start thinking, like Pooh-bear, that I’d like a little ‘smackerel’ of something, namely, CHAI. I could stop by one of the multitude of drive-through coffee stands, or ever-present Starbucks, or even into my friend Eleanor’s awesome Goodness Coffee House. But, being in a thrifty mood, and knowing that I have all the fixings in my own kitchen, I am making my own. Yes, it takes a bit of time. It is my reminder to slow down, smell the spices and take a bit of care of myself (and several friends!) This is no ordinary chai, either, friends. This is Red Raspberry Leaf Chai.
Chai is that wondrous combination of tea (usually black), cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, black pepper, cloves, sometimes allspice, anise or fennel, and milk. All of those fragrant spices are great for our digestion (ginger, fennel), good for our skin, helpful during colds and flu, calming to our nerves (cloves). They strengthen our bones (cinnamon) and purify our blood (pepper) as well us give us energy. The addition of milk helps everything to move through our systems without irritation, and black tea often hangs it all together creating an alchemical wonder drink. And, it tastes like heaven. The people of the Indian subcontinent drink it in volumes, and although I encountered chai in Santa Cruz, prior to traveling in India, it was my taste of ‘real chai’ that made me a chai enthusiast.
However, the chai offered in most coffee houses is so sweet! One of the great things about making your own chai is the ability to control the sweetness, or even drink it unsweetened. Many of the spices have an intrinsic sweetness, and I find that when I make my own chai, I don’t really desire more sweet. Although I never once had an ICED chai in India, I do enjoy it both hot and cold, even on hot days. Something about spicy on the inside does seem to cool me down, either way. Treating ourselves to this kind of refreshment is a nod to the ritual of tea drinking that goes back centuries. And while I do enjoy going out for tea, especially with friends, making it right in my own kitchen not only makes the whole house smell like chai, it saves on $$ and the ubiquitous paper cup.
Why Red Raspberry Leaf?
Traditional chai is made with black tea. Black tea, while lighter in its caffeine load than coffee, still contains caffeine. Due to all of the reading I’ve been doing about cortisol and adrenal fatigue lately, I am, like many of us, looking to ditch caffeine from my daily diet.
Enter, Red Raspberry Leaf. The hot summer sun beats down on beautiful raspberry canes, giving us delicious fruit, and also the amazing gift of her leaves. Since I was pregnant with my little ones, and like a good hippie mama, reading The Compleat Mother, I have also been an avid drinker of this amazing beverage. While pregnant with my second child, who was due in mid July, I drank many quarts of Raspberry Leaf sun tea, and it hit the spot that nothing else could. My other babes were born in March (yes, all three of them) and I enjoyed the tea warm, often in chai.
It is a favorite drink of women, both pregnant and not, because it is an incredible tonic for our wombs, and the muscles of the pelvic region. It is said to increase fertility, reduce ‘morning sickness’ and ease labor and birth. It can help ease the hot flashes of menopause, the fatigue of athletes, and the woes of children and teenagers.
It’s a blessed, wonderful leaf, and interestingly, it’s flavor as tea is somewhat reminiscent of black tea, which makes it an excellent addition to chai.
Without further ado, I give you my chai recipe:
*The information on this blog and website is provided for educational purposes only. I am not a doctor and do not diagnose any illnesses, or offer any medical advice. Please be sensible and listen to your body, and consult your health care practitioner if needed.