a ‘chai’ of a life

Posted on Thursday, November 1, 2012

I’m beginning to think my Peet’s Yin Hao Jasmine Green tea is becoming a bit angry with me, or at least I’ve hurt its feelings.  More and more these days, I’m trading my beloved Chinese Green tea, full of grassy notes and delicate jasmine blossoms for the rich, exotic flavors of Indian chai.  Thanks to A Curry of a Life, my source and teacher for traditional Indian Chai, I’m completely addicted.  Colleen, the main culprit of my conversion, mischievously giggles.  She takes great pleasure in her encouragement for chai addiction for many, knowing I’m one of those extreme addicts. 


Colleen, “a girl from sunny Santa Cruz, California who married a Punjabi boy from Bombay” has masterfully married her American perspective with the culture and cuisine of India.  Over one year ago, she introduced me to Authentic Indian Chai in her cozy home full of intoxicating aromas, warmth and laughter.  As Colleen taught me that day, while chai stole most of the attention, it wasn’t just the chai that made the day so memorable.  Colleen taught me not only about cultural consciousness and appreciation, but also about ceremony.  To me, chai became the promise of a friendly conversation.  To me, chai became a connection between many worlds, personalities and stories.  Chai lifted our spirits as we sipped and laughed.  It is the ceremony around chai that has made the experience a lasting treasure.


Now each morning I light my stove top, I celebrate this daily ritual.  My cup of morning chai is not another “to do” to get along with my day – it’s a sacred space.


The steam of the chai is a prayer stimulating the senses and awakening a sense of gratitude. Boiling water is an overflowing of blessings.  Spicy ginger dances wildly in the pot, while cardamom pods humbly offer a combination of seducing aromas and numerous healing properties.


Experimentation and new combinations lead to playful and enriching mornings.  A local business owner shares with me to add a stalk of lemongrass, which brightens up the peppery ginger – a wonderfully refreshing morning taste.  A new favorite is a blend of Colleen’s cardamom and ginger recipes.  I choose to omit the suggested sugar and add heavy doses of ginger and cardamom, which both offer incredible health benefits.  Many sources suggest both of these ancient and commonly used ayurvedic ingredients aid in healthy digestion and work as anti-inflammatories, help relieve cramps and headaches, are diuretics and can perhaps prevent cancer.  No matter what the combination, Colleen has taught me preparation must never lack love and joy; it must be experienced with appreciation and genuine awareness.


Let us not robotically fill our bellies or sit with lovers, but truly witness these things in and around us.  Chai or green tea, a lover’s morning sighs or the soreness of the working body – all are reminding us we are alive, so very alive.  May we give thanks for the water’s life-giving generosity, the first blink of the morning sun.  May we toast to life with wine glass in hand or not.  May we find celebration in everything, praising not one special day, but every day.


Thank you Colleen for chai, for the invitation to start my day with thanksgiving, to remind me of friendship, endless blessings, and for continual warmth. Let us all find our chai, our chi, our reason for ceremony.  Let us enjoy this grand ‘chai’ of a life.


Three Great Chai Recipes from A Curry of a Life

Chai Video

Ginger Chai

Authentic Indian Chai


Online Sources for Reading Basic Health Benefits of Ginger and Cardamom

Cardamom: The Queen of Spices

The Health Benefits of Cardamom: Grains of Paradise

Natural Remedies Base: Health Benefits of Cardamom

The Worlds Healthiest Foods – Ginger

10 Health Benefits of Ginger

Health Benefits of Ginger – An Amazingly Healthful Spice



feature image, dancing women, provided by bootsnall.



  1. Wish I could grab a cup of this right now!

    • Andrea,

      I am sipping on a cup now. I wish you lived closer so I could invite you over to join me. Let me know if you decide to try a cup of chai and how you like it. By the way, what’s your current “chai” moment in the morning?

  2. Jessica, as a certified tea addict, this post has pushed me over the edge and for the first time I feel as if I’m “settling” to a cup of nice Chinese puerh rather than royally sipping Indian chai!

    Here’s to hoping you’ll include a recipe for this and other delectables in your future posts! ; )

    • Zachary,

      This tea is one I would love to make for you over a nice long chat. Like the balance of yoga mixed with wild dancing, I’d call indian chai the wild dance and your beautiful Chinese puerh a nice yoga session, leaving me relaxed and grounded. Both are necessary in my life.

      I’ve included some of Colleen’s recipes at the end of my post, if you dare to try the wild dance…

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