I’m not sure how to talk about the way my relationship with plants has changed this past year without irritating myself with sound of my own voice (words). It’s a familiar problem.
I could tell you about growing a garden and tending houseplants helped me to measure growth in my life at a time when I was feeling dormant and curled inward. Or about how I’ve started, after very careful research, begun using plants to support my health in small daily ways. Gah. Look. Let’s talk about this chai.
Right now I am dealing with herbs mainly in tea forms, because the dosage is small, and the benefits accrue through habitual use, the same way we gain health through a balanced diet. I only use herbs that are considered safe for general use by the medical establishment, and if I were to take herbs in any more potent form than tea, I’d talk to my doctor about it, because modern medicine is awesome and herbs are real. I never recommend that my doula clients take herbs without talking to their doc or midwife, because, again, plants act on the body in real ways.
So. The chai. I got all of the ingredients from my local YES! Market and mixed it up in about five minutes. It’s got all the usual chai suspects (green cardamom, cloves, fennel seeds, black peppercorns, star anise, cinnamon stick, black tea) along with new chai friends dandelion root and oats.
The dandelion root has a slightly bitter, roasty flavor that goes well with the malty Irish breakfast tea in the chai, and has great liver-supporting benefits. I stole the idea of adding dandelion to chai from Portland Apothecary, but dandelion has been used in hot drinks and as a coffee substitute forever.
The oats are a cool trick-- they give the chai a slightly opaque, milky look and mouthfeel without the addition of dairy. This tea tastes aromatic, warming, creamy, and just the tiniest bit bitter—perfect with a tablespoon of honey.
Dandelion Oat Chai
-One part each each fennel seeds, cloves, and black peppercorns
-Two parts each Irish breakfast tea, dried dandelion root, rolled oats, and green cardamom pods
-One star anise for every serving
-One crushed cinnamon stick for every three servings
Mix together and store in an airtight jar. To prepare tea, add one tablespoon of chai per serving, one cup of water, and a few coins of fresh ginger to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer for seven minutes. Strain, and serve hot with honey!
A few extra notes and resources: I really like Rosemary Gladstar's thoughts on herbal immunity, as well as the People's Pharmacy resources on home remedies. I always start my research with this comprehensive guide to drug-herb-vitamin interactions. Finally, a workshop with local herbalist Holley Poole-Kavana of Little Red Bird Botanicals was so helpful and fun.