At Aura Chai we’re true chai lovers – and we’re passionate about chai latte. We’re dedicated to introducing our authentic, delicious chai blend to as many people and places as possible! Although chai latte is now a trendy ‘not coffee’ beverage emerging on menus all over the world, it has noble origins as an Ayurvedic healing tonic. It’s not the overly sweet, powdered version many have become accustomed to. It’s actually a complex blend of healing spices and tea muddled with warm, comforting milk designed to balance and nourish the body. Here we share some of the proven health benefits of chai latte and its rich heritage steeped in the culture of India and Ayurvedic medicine.
What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is the world’s oldest holistic healing system – a traditional natural medicine practiced in India and Central Asia for thousands of years. Even though we now rely on modern medicine, the sophisticated and insightful teachings of Ayurveda are still widely used today to promote health and wellness. ‘Ayur’ means life, ‘veda’ means knowledge or science. Nourishment and nutrition are incredibly important in Ayurveda – and a balanced, healthy diet is essential for holistic wellbeing.
Ayurveda is a complex and fascinating subject – and we simply don’t have time or space to explore it in depth here! For the purpose of explaining the role of chai however it’s worth sharing the basic principles.
Overall the discipline is governed by three doshas – vata, kapha, pitta – the five elements and twenty qualities or gunas. Body, mind and soul are unified throughout each element – and a careful balance of the doshas is key for complete health. The Sanskrit word for health is ‘svastha’ – and this refers to wellness of the body, mind and soul.
What is Ojas?
In Ayurveda there are three vital elements that come together to promote complete health and wellbeing. These are known as prana, tejas and ojas. There are many ways to build and support ojas – most refer to nourishment and recipes designed to boost energy and mental clarity. Chai latte is one of the healing elixirs known to promote and balance ojas – thanks to its warming, comforting blend of creaminess, sweetness and spice.
Why is our chai latte recipe Ayurvedic?
When I created Aura Chai I was completely fed up with what was currently on offer. Everything I tried was watered down, missing spices or saturated with sugar and sweetener. Even in speciality coffee shops I was served powdered chai, syrup (😩) or chai concentrate. I became so disappointed that I eventually made my own!
There are a couple of reasons why I created Aura Chai with Ayurveda in mind.
Wellness (for both body and mind) is incredibly important to me. As a teenager I was bullied into believing I was fat and ugly at school. Irresponsible diet companies and magazines lent a helping hand and turned me against my own body. I hated myself and the way I looked – which reflected in the way I treated my body. I ended up in hospital with an eating disorder, literally starving myself to death. The 13-year-old me didn’t understand that the role of food is nourishment and support. It shouldn’t be feared, hated or rationed, divided into good and bad. Over the years I learned that looking after your body also has positive consequences for your emotional health – and it’s really quite simple, too! Eating natural, whole foods, avoiding processed and ‘diet’ alternatives. Reconnecting intuitively with what the body really needs.
Now one of the most crucial ways I look after myself is the way I take care of my body. This includes intuitive eating, recognising when I need rest, and eating a plant-based diet rich in whole foods that properly nourish my body. I came to realise (slowly and over a number of years!) that to be able to thrive my body couldn’t live in constant survival mode. I needed to be grateful for my body and take good care of it. We had to work together – not against each other!
I’m a strong believer in authenticity – especially when it comes to food and drink. One of the main problems I had with what was currently on offer was a severe lack of this realness. As I watched it watered down into convenient options, I felt chai had lost its true identity.
My Grandad was born in India – and later returned as a young adult. In recent years he’s opened up to me about his early years and fascinating life – sharing insights from his travels all over the world. I have always felt a strong connection both to India and to the Middle East, where my Great-Grandma was from. I have been lucky enough to travel a lot myself – and I’ve always found food and drink prepared in an authentic way to be the best. From the turmeric latte I tasted in Bali to the Rendang curries of Malaysia, it’s true that the most delicious recipes often exactly mirror the original, traditional formulas.
Creating an authentic Ayurvedic chai latte
When I started to learn more about Ayurveda many of the teachings resonated with me – especially this intrinsic link between body and mind. I avoid processed foods and refined sugar and I’m vegetarian transitioning to vegan. That’s why the lack of an authentic offering really bothered me – both as a chai lover and as someone who values their health and wellbeing.
Because of this when I sat down to start creating the recipe for Aura Chai I had two essentials in mind – flavour and health benefits. I wanted to be able to enjoy a delicious yet healthy chai latte both at home and when I was out at a coffee shop or restaurant. After researching recipes I came up with a blend that incorporated all the essential spices and a lower amount of black tea and caffeine. Getting the balance just right took a little time and patience – but it was totally worth it in the end!
What are the benefits of Ayurvedic chai latte?
Chai latte was first created as warm, soothing Ayurvedic tonic. It is known as a ‘rayasana’ – a healing beverage or tonic that strengthens the body and mind and promotes wellness. This is partly because of its abundance of gorgeous spices – each with their own health benefits! In Ayurvedic terms however each element has a special role to play.
Spice: Spices are of course one of the most obvious aspects of chai’s healthy credentials. The spices were carefully chosen for their revitalising and balancing properties. They promote mental, physical and emotional healing – each with their own benefits to impart. Cinnamon regulates blood sugar and aids digestion. Cloves offer antibacterial protection. Pepper stimulates the gut and clears your mind. Of course the other benefit of the spices is flavour – an aromatic, fragrant blend that is uplifting and comforting all at once.
Tea: Chai was traditionally consumed as an energy booster – so the caffeine in black tea helps with this. The caffeine serves as a gentle energiser – a mental boost that’s uplifting and brightening. As Aura Chai is predominantly spice-based it is naturally lower in caffeine. We use a special kind of black tea which isn’t too strong or bitter to perfectly complement the spices.
Sweetness: Traditionally chai is sweetened with pure honey. In Ayurveda honey was considered one of nature’s most remarkable and wonderful gifts to mankind. It has unique nutritional and medicinal properties, which Ayurvedic physicians realised very early on. Honey is known as a fine source of energy, warmth and promotes digestive health. Of course, milk and honey were treasured, cherished and respected ingredients in simpler times – they weren’t overproduced and commercialised as they are today. Because they weren’t found in abundance they were sustainably and carefully collected. I like to substitute Sweet Freedom, coconut sugar or maple syrup.
Milk: Milk has a very special place in Ayurveda. It is considered a sacred ingredient, believed to fully nourish the body and balance the doshas. It also promotes Ojas – the essential ingredient for wellness and vitality we talked about above. The word ‘latte’ has become attached to chai because of its milky consistency. If you are vegan there are so many nourishing, creamy plant-based alternatives out there. We love Oatly Barista milk, Bonsoy and Macadamia milk.
Warmth, relaxation and comfort: To balance the vatas Ayurveda practitioners recommend warm drinks, depending on your Dosha. The action of gently sipping tea is also in itself a meditation. I love to sit with a cup of chai, fresh mint, floral green tea or white tea with jasmine before bed or for a quiet break from the hustle and bustle of daily life 💕
Supercharged Ayurvedic Chai Latte
If you want to add further healing power to your Aura Chai latte, consider adding some adaptogens. Adaptogens are herbs which help the body to recalibrate and cope with the stresses of daily life – providing a range of impressive benefits from energy and increased sex drive to brighter skin and regulated hormone function! We love GlowBar’s range, which incorporates a comprehensive selection of the finest and most potent adaptogens. Check out their new Wellness Spa (opening late August) here!
Super Happy Ojas-Supporting Iced Chocolate Chai Latte
This super-happy latte contains over six adaptogenic herbal extracts, raw Peruvian cacao and ten different spices – all with a host of beautiful benefits to fully energise and rejuvenate your body and mind. Think of it as a deliciously spicy chocolate milkshake that tastes great and helps you feel amazing, too!
1 dessertspoon Aura Chai Cacao blend
2 tsp GlowBar Super Happy blend
200ml barista quality coconut milk
2 tsp plant-based collagen powder
1 tsp coconut oil
2-3 tsp maple syrup (to taste)
1/Place the spoonful of chocolate chai blend into a jug and cover with 30ml hot water. Add maple syrup and stir well. Leave this to infuse whilst you make up the milk.
2/ Add milk to a blender and spoon in the Super Happy powder and collagen powder. Whizz then add the coconut oil and whizz until combined.
3/ Pour in the chai infusion over a strainer and blend again until frothy. Serve immediately over ice.