A lovely pot of chai is boiling on my stove filling my little apartment with a wonderful fragrance. This particular pot has cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, black pepper, and fennel. No ginger because I used it up yesterday. The milk is unpasteurized whole milk, which according to the label, is 8% fat by volume. Mmmm.
My love affair with chai tea (which is a redundant phrase since "chai" actually means "tea") began when I worked for a few months at an Indian restaurant while I in college. They gave me free food and free tea. I probably would have kept working there forever just for the free food and tea but I moved away after I finished college to begin graduate school. My first year of grad school I kept body and sole together with instant oatmeal and rice porridge. I did not cook nor did I eat out at all. Lost 20 pounds, in fact.
Then I got married and got pregnant and my natural concern for my health turned into extreme concern, especially since we had no health insurance. My mother had a ruptured tubal pregancy when I was five that nearly killed her. Thanks to God she recovered but the hospital bill (my parent's had no health insurance) was an serious blow to my family's finances. So I was tremendously aware of my health during pregnancy.
Being vegetarian and poor, my husband and I made many trips to the Indian grocer to buy dal. Dal is high in protein, cheap, and very healthy. The only problem with it is that I couldn't gain any weight eating it, even if I ate a lot. So along the way I began eating some meat too. Then I had digestion problems. I have always been an "anti-drug" person. I don't even take over the counter medications unless I am in real pain. And by accident, I found out that a few cups of spicy chai made me a "regular" person again--if you know what I mean--without the need for Metamucil or such things.
Only spicy chai worked, preferably with plenty of fresh ginger, fresh ground black pepper, fragrant cinnamon sticks, and good crushed whole cardamom pods. The Oregon chai or most American brand of chai are too weak and too sweet. Since I already had all the spices that I needed, I just made my own.
***If you want to try it, buy your spices at an Indian grocer. The quality is good, the quantity is large, and the price is often less than a quarter of what you would pay in the supermarkets.