Chai Bhagwan!

As many of you know, I enjoy chai.  I’m not really sure where or when I first had chai.  I do know that the first cup of chai was Mataji’s soothing chai recipe.

There’s an important reason why chai is so integral to my experience with yoga.  It comes from two things that my good friend Chanbdrakant says.  The first, is a simple phrase, “I do not drink the tea.”  Simply renouncing something doesn’t make us who we are not nor does it make us better than others.

The second is a story about an Abbott of a Zen monastery and an administrator.  The two of them are having a conversation when two monks come up to them.  The first monk is a venerable old fellow who’s been to the monastery a number of times over the years.  The Abbott looks at the old man and asks, “Do I know you?”  The old monk responds, “Yes, I’ve been here many times before.”

The Abbott smiles and says, “Go and have some tea!”

The second monk approaches the Abbott and the Abbott asks the same question, “Do I know you?”  The second monkey is very young, a novice, and replies, “No, we have never met before.”

The Abbott smiles and says, “Go and have some tea!”

After the second monk leaves, the administrator becomes very distraught.  “Do you know what you’ve just done?  You just insulted the venerable old Monk by treating this young novice the same as that venerable saint.”

The Abbott looks at the administrator and asks loudly, “Administrator? Do I know you?”  The administrator stammers and then says, “Yes, you’ve known me for many years!”

The Abbott smiles and says, “Administrator! Go and have some tea.”

The point being that the Abbott treats them all the same because he sees them all the same.  He sees them as his Self.

Here, then, are the recipes for Mataj’s Soothing Chai and Chandrakant’s Chai.

Mataji’s Soothing Chai

Ingredients
2 cups water
2 tablespoons of dried peppermint
1 quart milk
1-2 cinnamon sticks
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon black peppercorns

Makes about 1 quart of chai

Bring water to a boil in a large sauce pan and add peppermint in a tea ball.  Remove from heat and steep 20 minutes.  Remove tea ball or teabags.  Add milk, spices, and sweetener (unless you’re using honey, in which case wait until the chai is finished to stir it in).  Heat and steep on low heat for an additional 30 minutes.


Chandrakant’s Chai

Ingredients
1/2 water
1/2 milk
1 spoon Assam tea
1/4 spoon chai masala (see below)
1/4 spoon ground cardamom
sweetener

Makes 1 cup, can be scaled up

Take the cup you will use to drink the chai and fill it half with water and then fill the rest with milk.  Add to sauce pan.  Take a teaspoon (an actual tea spoon like is shown at the right) and measure a heaping spoon of Assam tea.  Add it to the milk.  Next measure just the front quarter or less of chai masala and the same of ground cardamom.  Add those to the milk.

Stir constantly as you heat the milk to boiling.  When the mild boils up, lift the pan from the heat and continue to stir so the milk doesn’t boil over or burn.  Return to heat and repeat 3-5 times.  You will see the tea release its color into the milk as you stir.

Strain, sweeten and serve.


Chai Masala

Ingredients
4 parts ground ginger
3 parts ground black pepper
2 parts ground cinnamon
1 part ground cloves

Put all the parts into a container and shake vigorously.  Alternately, sift each part into a container, close and then shake vigorously.

Chai Bhagwan!